improve memory recall

7 ways to strengthen your memory recall

January 22, 2024
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Have you ever gone to the store for something, but then come home without it? Or have you read an interesting article only to have immediately forgotten what it said? 

It’s safe to say that having a strong memory is invaluable. And in this article, we'll explore seven effective techniques that can help you improve it. 

What is memory recall?

Memory recall is your brain’s ability to retrieve learned or experienced information. It occurs while you’re using certain types of memory, like your short-term and long-term memory. 

Short-term memory (which is similar to but not the same as working memory) holds small amounts of information for brief periods, like when you’re remembering a phone number you just looked up. On the other hand, long-term memory retrieves information stored for days, years, or even a lifetime. 

Retrieval cues, like smells, songs, images, or emotions, often act as triggers to help you access memories you'd like to retrieve. (More on retrieval cues in a moment!) And while you’re retrieving a memory, your brain reactivates the nerve pathways formed during the initial memory formation. This process all takes place in the hippocampus, which is the area of the brain responsible for memory. 

How Retrieval Cues Impact Memory Recall

As mentioned, every memory is associated with cues such as emotions, smells, songs, or visuals. These cues prompt your brain to access related memories. 

Consider this: Have you ever forgotten where you parked in a large lot? Without cues, finding your car feels impossible. However, if you remember parking near a large tree, that tree becomes your retrieval cue, helping you recall the information and guiding you back to your car. 

7 Ways to develop and improve your memory recall

Using retrieval cues effectively has the power to make your life easier and save you the time (and frustration) spent trying to remember things. 

Here are seven strategies can help boost your cue retrieval and memory recall: 

1. Use mnemonic devices

Mnemonic devices involve creating associations between new information and existing knowledge, making it easier to retrieve the new information later. 

There are various types of mnemonic devices, such as acronyms, visualization, and rhymes. For example, you might remember the colors of the rainbow by using the common acronym ROYGBIV (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet). 

2. Practice regularly

Spaced repetition is a technique where you review information at increasing intervals, such as once an hour, once a day, and so on. It encourages practice and repetition, which is one of the best ways to train memory. 

Spaced repetition is a form of active recall, where you actively retrieve information from memory (instead of looking it up, for example), that can significantly improve your recall skills. And here are two easy ways you can begin to practice active recall as soon as today: drive somewhere based on your memory (and not your navigation app’s directions), or type someone’s phone number based on memory. Whatever you do, just remember: The key is consistency!

3. Organize information effectively

Think about how easy it is to find what you need in a well-organized drawer or cabinet. The same goes for your brain: Organizing information in a structured manner can make things easier to remember.

To do this, you can try a memory technique like chunking, where you group related pieces of information together to enhance memory recall.

4. Leverage the power of visual imagery

Fun fact: Your brain is wired to remember images more effectively than words or concepts. By creating vivid mental images associated with the information you want to remember, you can enhance your ability to recall it later. 

So, try incorporating visual aids, such as diagrams or drawings, in your learning process to strengthen memory retention and recall.

5. Learn association techniques

By connecting new information with existing knowledge or creating meaningful associations, you can improve your ability to retrieve information when needed. 

So next time you want to remember someone's name, try associating it with a memorable visual feature, or create a story that connects their name with something else familiar to you. There’s a good chance their name will be a lot easier to remember later on. 

6. Keep your brain active and challenged

Regular mental stimulation is essential for maintaining a strong memory. Engaging in activities that challenge your brain, such as puzzles, brain games, or even learning new skills, can help keep your memory sharp. And by continuously pushing your cognitive skills, you can improve overall cognitive function, too. 

Our favorite way to stay accountable and motivated with cognitive training? The Elevate app

7. Develop your ability to retrieve clues

As mentioned earlier, establishing strong retrieval cues can significantly enhance memory recall. And if you need a refresher, retrieval cues are stimuli or hints that trigger the retrieval of specific memories. 

In your daily life, try this by noticing associations you have between various memories and smells, images, or songs. You might be surprised by remembering things you haven’t thought about since they happened!

Improve memory recall with fun brain games on the Elevate app

By implementing these seven techniques into your daily routine, you can strengthen your memory recall and retrieval cues. 

Whether you're a student preparing for exams or wanting to better remember the items on your grocery list, a strong memory can make life a lot easier. And if you’re looking for additional practice and a comprehensive approach to memory skill improvement, consider downloading the Elevate app. 

Elevate is an award-winning brain training program consisting of 40+ fun games that are expertly designed to boost your cognitive functioning. With Elevate, you can improve your skills in categories from memory to math to reading and more, all in one place. 

So if you’re hoping to stay sharp for years to come, download the Elevate app on iOS or Android today!


The best brain games to improve working memory

  • Learn why brain games boost your memory skills and five to try today. 

How to improve working memory and recall with chunking

  • You’ll always remember phone numbers and grocery lists after you discover the chunking technique. 

Working memory and short-term memory

  • Learn the differences between working memory and short-term memory and tips for improving them. 
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