Make Your New Year’s Resolution Become a Reality; Increase Your GPA by Increasing Your Brain’s Ability to Store Memory

As the new semester begins, grab a hold of your courses while you still have the time because midterm season is fast approaching. Help prepare yourself to increase your GPA by not only working hard, but by using techniques that actually increase your ability to learn. Use these functions of your brain to your advantage! Allow yourself to learn the material needed to be successful on that midterm.

Learn Key Ways to Consolidate Memory

 Consolidation is the process of transitioning short-term memory into long-term memory. As students, I’m sure we all want to receive a good mark on those upcoming midterms and the more your brain consolidates the better your performance will be.

 

1. Rehearse

To increase your brain’s ability to consolidate, the memory must be rehearsed - just as if you were practicing how to throw a ball. Your brain becomes more familiar and soon remembers how to throw the ball without even thinking about it. This act is called reconsolidating.

 

2. Connect Information to Yourself 

The amount of practice time needed for your brain to consolidate the information varies. For example, social psychologists have discovered that the most effective way to learn information is by relating the material to yourself. When studying factual information, it will be most efficiently remembered when personal connections are made with the material. Find out more information about social psychology by taking PS270, here at Laurier.

3. Stay Aroused

Social psychologists have also found that arousal increases memory. Whether this pertains to physical arousal through exercise or emotions from stress. Even hunger can arouse us in ways that increase our memory to become more active. Thus, try taking breaks while you study to exercise or eat a snack. This action will activate your body and more information will be consolidated.

4. Write Notes by Hand

During my first lecture of Introduction to Statistics, Dr. Max Gwynn highlighted the importance of longhand written notes verse using a laptop. New research conducted by Pam Mueller and Daniel Oppenheimer provides evidence to Dr. Gwynn’s advice. Within their research findings, Pam and Daniel conducted experiments between individuals who produced hand written notes verse others who used laptops. As a result, their findings concluded that hand written participants had a “stronger conceptual understanding and were more successful in applying and integrating the material”. The link to this article can be found at the bottom of this page if you’re interested in learning more. Overall, the core finding that distinguishes writing by hand compared to laptop written notes is that it allows students to “listen, digest and summarize”. These three processes are necessary to learn your course material well. Hand writing your notes allows your brain to absorb the information more because it forces your brain to use more complicated processes.

5. Sleep

Getting a good night sleep provides many important functions for your body including consolidation of memory. Anything that inhibits sleep is called a zeitgeber, which is a German word that translates to “time giver”. For land animals like ourselves, light is the ultimate zeitgeber. Blue light, which is projected from electronics including phones, inhibits the production of melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that allows the body to fall asleep. Thus, if you are having any trouble sleeping try to avoid looking at a screen at least 30 minutes before you go to bed. Although, if you are an iPhone user, simply turn on night mode in your settings and your phone will not emit blue light.  Making this step a priority in your life will allow your sleeping process to function more effectively. This will allow your brain to consolidate memory more efficiently. If you’re interested in memory formation and other brain mechanisms check out PS263, Biopsychology.

Trying to create new study habits and adopting these techniques can be stressful. Identifying how you learn as an individual is a huge aspect of doing well academically. Once you have gotten the tricks of your brain down pat, you should be proud of your outcomes. Hopefully, the techniques provided above may assist in identifying which study exercises works best for your brain. We are all unique but our brains all function similarly with regards to memory. Take advantage of what you now know. Who needs luck when you have brain power on your side!

Want to learn more? Follow this link.