Memory is critical to every insight and idea we will ever have. Memory enables us to plan, to make decisions, and to understand the world around us. It links our past to the present and future. And the better memory is, the better the mind functions.
Peter Vishton, associate professor in the department of psychology at William and Mary, shares the science of how human memory functions and what you can do to enhance your memory and reduce forgetfulness.
9:30–10:45 a.m. Your Memory Is Amazing, Whether You Know It or Not
Many people think their memory is not very good. However, the fundamental components of human memory vary little from person to person. What causes variations in performance is not how good your memory is, but how well you use it.
11 a.m.–12:15 p.m. Elaborative Encoding to Enhance Memory
To maximize storage efficiency in most situations, we throw out everything that isn’t essential, keeping only the things that we absolutely need. In the domain of human memory, however, this strategy is detrimental. By encoding more information, you can remember what’s essential far more quickly and easily.
12:15–1:15 p.m. Lunch (Participants provide their own.)
1:15–2:15 p.m. Reducing Forgetfulness
By reducing your brain’s tendency to forget things, you will obviously remember more. Forgetting is often thought of as the opposite of remembering, but a wide range of research suggests that it is not. Once you’ve created and consolidated a high-quality memory, it’s worth taking some simple steps to maintain it.
2:30–3:30 p.m. Aging and Memory
As we age, our brain function tends to decline. That said, there is evidence that the amount of decline is often exaggerated by the statistical methods used to summarize research in this area. By enhancing your exercise, sleep, and mental engagement in the right ways, the rate of age-related decline can be significantly reduced. As we age, we gain knowledge and experience. By using some of that, our overall level of mental performance can be maintained for a very long time.
S. Dillon Ripley Center
1100 Jefferson Dr SW
Metro: Smithsonian (Mall exit)