Using a picture or image enhances memory because it engages your senses. We store things in our brains along with the sense that is involved in understanding it.
I know what a carp looks like. So, the memories of the fish are stored in the visual centers of my brain. I know what carp tastes like. So, it is stored in the portions of my brain involved in taste. I know what a carp smells like … and so it goes.
When you are trying to access specific memories, it is easier to grab them when they are stored in more than one place in the brain. The picture that you use for the simple words can be strictly a mental image or you can make a sketch to go along with it. You can experiment to find out what enhances memory best for you.
Making Connections Enhances Memory
You might think of making the substitutions and creating the mental images as two pieces of a pie. A third piece, possibly a larger one, is making the connection. How can I make “Met a Carp Us” connect to what the term means? Making the connections is truly what enhances memory storage. Here’s an example of how it works.
I have a visual image for the word metacarpus. Now, I need to connect it to the definition. The metacarpus are the bones in the palm of the hand. So, I take my same cartoon picture of the giant carp and have my friend and I holding up our hands, palms facing the fish.
In the image, our hands are larger than normal. Our palms seem to pulse in my mind. That makes the connection for me and it is what enhances memory storing related to the meaning of the term – the location of the bones.
I can go a little further with this by having each of the five fingers move in the image. That tells me there are five bones in the palm, the metacarpals. If I were telling the fish story to another friend named Al, I would say, “Met a Carp Al.”
This whole process can go on as long as you like, making one connection after another. The funnier your mental images are to you personally, the easier they are to remember. Sometimes a teacher can suggest something, but if you can’t make it personal, it might not work for you.
The Peg Method also Enhances Memory
Scientific research has shown that the peg method is what enhances memory for average normal people. This system works for practically everyone, because there are certain things that we will never forget: the numbers 1-10 and the letters of the alphabet (See ABC Memory Exercises).