To start improving our memory power, you should understand how memory works and why it might be fallible to begin with.
Essentially then, your memory is distributed across your brain’s ‘connectome’. This is the network of neurons (brain cells) that is spread across your entire brain and that makes you who you are. This stores all of your memories, all of your abilities and all of your personality. New memories are created the birth of new neurons and/or new connections between existing neurons. This is what we call ‘brain plasticity’ – the ability of the brain to change shape in response to learning, just as a muscle gets larger and stronger in response to training.
The ‘autobiographical’ memories and ‘declarative’ (factual) memories that we tend to think of as ‘memories’ though, are located more specifically within our hippocampus – which is one of the most highly plastic parts of the brain. This is a part of the limbic system, which in turn is closely connected to our emotions.
And that’s our first clue as to what really makes memory tick: the limbic system is our emotional cortex. This is the brain region responsible for producing hormones and neurotransmitters. It helps us to feel excited, scared, angry, or anything else.
And ALL these things help us to better differentiate between what is important and what isn’t. This in turn helps our brains to know what to store and not to.
So how do you improve memory? You make it important. You add emotional charge.