A team of scientists recently discovered that repetition is a terrible way to memorize information—and their findings highlight much better strategies.
A new study published in Learning and Memory found that simple repetition interferes with the ability to learn new information, especially when it is similar to a set of familiar facts. This may mean that memorizing facts about an issue through repetition could interfere with the ability to remember a more nuanced version of the same issue later on.
In study, subjects said a list of objects either one or three times. Later on, in the recall phase, another set of similar objects ("lures") was snuck in. Those who had seen objects multiple times better recalled the original objects but had a harder time distinguishing the lures. In other words, their memories were stronger but less precise. Over the long run, repetition can be a false temptress, making us think we've learning something when we really haven't.
在研究中，让参与者对一个单词列表重复记三遍左右。在接下来的回忆阶段，在单词表里添加了一个相似的单词(“鱼饵”)。记过几遍单词列表的人对原单 词列表的记忆颇深，但很难注意到细微的区别。也就是说，他们的记忆虽深但不够精确。从长期来看，重复性记忆很可能会成为虚假的诱惑变成一个幌子，其实我们 并没有精确地记住东西，只是给我们造成的假象而已。
Here are a few tips for better memory:
Pace your studying
Not all repetition is bad. It's more accurate to say that cramming is ineffective. “The better idea is to space repetition. Practice a little bit one day, then put your flashcards away, then take them out the next day, then two days later," explain McDaniel and Roediger.
Mentally testing yourself on materials generally increases recall days later, even if there's no feedback on how well you actually remember the facts. In other words, just going over the material in your head at regular intervals has benefits.
Within academia, there's a raging debate about the optimal spacing between recall intervals. One of the original systems, by foreign language learning icon Paul Pimsleur, advocated for a pacing of five seconds, 25 seconds, two minutes, 10 minutes, one hour, five hours, one day, five days, 25 days, four months, and two years after the facts are initially learned. Since then, others have found that a slight delay of 10 minutes in the first retrieval made the task just mentally challenging enough to be beneficial. But it depends on the goal; if it's to memorize a speech in a day, you'll probably want to cram more intervals than if you want to remember something five years later.
在学术界，关于分段回忆最佳间隔期的争论一直都很激烈。其中最初的一个记忆体系是保罗·罗皮姆斯勒式外语学习，主张分段记忆的时间段为5秒、25 秒、两分钟、10分钟、一小时、五小时、一天、五天、25天、4个月、两年后进入初步学习阶段。另有其他人发现在首次回忆推迟10分钟的内，在回想记忆的 过程中从精神上足以受益。但这取决于记忆目标，你想把一个演讲内容记一天的时间可能更多要依赖于死记硬背，你想要五年后都能记住的东西可能就要采取分段记 忆法了，多分出几个时间间隔段进行分段记忆。
I've been experimenting with recall intervals one hour after I read material, then again when I'm at the gym, trying to recall facts learned during the previous three days, one week, and one month prior. The optimal intervals will ultimately depend on your schedule.
The ancient granddaddy of advanced memory techniques is the method of Loci, which involves placing objects in sequential order in a mentally constructed (imaginary) world. The most famous memory man of all time, Solomon Shereshevsky, who could recall sets of random numbers years later, used to imagine himself placing objects near buildings.
World Memory Champion Dominic O'Brien gives practic...