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Eight Core Principles of Effective Memory

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1. When information is first acquired, it is tagged for its potential importance or value.

2. Such tagging is influenced by multiple factors such as attention, old memories, emotion, repetition, and purpose.

3. Images are easier to remember than words. The most powerful mnemonic systems are based on representing ideas and facts as images.

4. Memories with impact get preferentially rehearsed, either through conscious will or by covert (implicit) brain processes.

5. Rehearsal should occur with true self-testing, repeated often, and spaced over time.

6. The re-call during self-testing launches a new round of consolidation that can strengthen the original learning. Each re-consolidation episode builds on prior ones and strengthens the neural circuits that store the memory.

7. Sleep promotes conslidation of recent learning.

8. Effectiveness of recall during rehearsal is promoted by use of relevant cues, especially information that was associated with the original learning material. 

Applying these principles is the theme of my book, Memory Power 101.

William Klemm, D.V.M., Ph.D., is a Professor of Neuroscience at Texas A&M University.

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