A photographic memory, also known as eidetic memorial is a medical condition in which a person can recall a memory of an image, object or sound with a high degree of accuracy.
Only a small percentage of the population has this kind of memory recall. But for those of us without photographic memories, remembering what we read can be a struggle. However, neurological and cognitive research on the brain and human learning has revealed several strategies you can use to improve retention of information and remember what you read.
Engage as many of your senses as possible. A recent study by researchers at University College London's Department of Imaging Neuroscience found that memory is closely linked to the senses, in particular the sense of smell. As a result, drinking coffee, burning incense or playing soft music while reading can improve your retention of information.
Read in different locations. Numerous studies have revealed that changing the environment in which information is learned improves retention. Learning material in different places increases the number of neural connections in your brain associated with what you are reading, which will help you remember it better.
Eat regularly to maintain your body's supply of glucose, which is the chemical that fuels the brain. Research has shown that replenishing levels of glucose improves learning and retention of information. Eating at least a small snack every three to four hours will replenish glucose and help you better remember what you're reading.
Read before going to sleep, and get a good night's sleep. Research from Harvard Medical School shows study participants who learned shortly before going to sleep at night showed greater retention than other participants. Sleeping seven or eight hours or more per night facilitates memory storage in the brain and renders memories more resilient.
Avoid multitasking while reading. While a wealth of distractions such as TV, social media and cell phones compete for our attentions, refrain from engaging these stimuli while reading. Research has shown that multitasking while learning negatively affects flexible retention of information.
- "Nature": Linked Proved between Senses and Memory; Michael Hopkin; May 21, 2004
- American Psychological Association; Food for Thought - Glucose is Good for Learning and Memory; B. Murray; March 2000
- "Brain Rules"; John Medina; 2008
- "Scientific American"; Snooze Or Lose - Memory Retention Enhanced by Sleep; David Biello; July 11, 2006
- "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences"; Modulation of Competing Memory Systems by Distraction; Karin Foerde, et al; August 2006
- "Psychology Today"; Study Skills 2010 - Not What You Think They Are; Christine L. Carter; September 14, 2010
Chase Sackett has been writing since 2003. With a B.A. from Washington University in St. Louis, his work has been published in the "Cincinnati Enquirer" and "Student Life," the Washington University student newspaper. Sackett has professional experience in nonprofit management and human resources.