Scientists are still figuring out many new things about the brain and how to improve our memory. We do know that a lot of people struggle to remember things, and in many different ways. Perhaps you’re forgetting appointments or answering your emails, or picking up the dry cleaning on your way home. Let’s take a look at what’s really going on in your brain, and see what memory games can help you train your brain to be a little better at remembering faces and names.
Why you remember what you remember
According to a study from MIT, what you remember depends on how meaningful that memory is to you and if you can connect it to other knowledge or other memories . If you can make a relation between a memory and something else, there is a larger chance that you will remember it later on. Like learning, memory is all about context.
That is why pattern recognition is so important. Essentially, the more connections a new memory has to memories which already exist, the more likely you will remember that information. The same goes for making new memories.
Memory games can help you
Many people have trouble remembering faces or names. Have you ever gone to a really important meeting and couldn’t remember someone’s name there? Or introduced two friends at a party and referred to one as a ‘he’ instead of saying their name? Remembering a person’s name is flattering and people appreciate it when you do, and that is why it is so important that you make up memory games to make sure that your memory will not fail.
Try to find an unusual feature – ears, hairline, forehead, eyebrows, eyes, nose, mouth, chin, complexion, etc. and then create an association between that characteristic, the face, and the name in your mind. The association might link that person to someone else you know. Alternatively you could find a rhyme or image that fits with the name or the person’s appearance.
When you are first introduced to someone new, ask the other person to repeat their name or find a way to see it written. A business card, or adding the person on Facebook or LinkedIn always helps to improve the memory, especially if the technique involves using visual memory. If the name is unusual, you can be fairly sure they get asked by many people for more details on their names origin and spelling. Keep in mind that the more often you hear and see the name, the more likely it will sink in. After you say goodbye, review the name in your mind several times or write it down on a piece of paper. This will help you improve your memory, getting you ready for the next time you meet, so you will smile with relief when their name comes out of your mouth correctly.
This memory game is both simple and beneficial.
If you actually want a real challenge for your memory, try NeuroNation’s “Path Finder”. This memory game is based on an exercise created by Professor Joni Homes of Cambridge University. The aim of this exercise is to go over your steps, record the information in the short memory and then recall back the steps taken. This exercise, together with other brain games of NeuroNation, will train your ability to recall back information from the short memory, like the names of people you just met. Remembering a new acquaintance’s name can earn you many points when it comes to business deals and establishing new friendships, so try these tips together with the Neuronation brain exercises today and see how they help you improve your memory.
 Brady, TF., Konkle, T, & Alvarez, G. (2011) A review of visual memory capacity: beyond individual items and towards structured representations. Journal of Vision, 11(5). doi: 10.1167/11.5.4