Does practicing memory techniques improve your general memory?

As the title says, I’m curious if as you practice these techniques if it sort of primes your brain to where you seem to remember things more easily without directly/explicitly using said techniques.

1 Like

I’d say mostly no, but I wouldn’t argue against someone who said mostly yes. Let me clarify what I mean

Once you improve your techniques, using them becomes automatic. For example, every time I learn the name of someone new, I’ll almost subconsciously look for a way to tie it to their face. However, if I just think of a name and think of a person and just repeat the name in my head the way a beginner would, I’ll only remember it as well as I used to. However, I did once hear Katie Kermode - the world’s best at international names - say that when she does international names, she’ll just work out what country the name is from, then try to get a feel for the name rather than always coming up with an image. Maybe this means it changes as you get better, but you’d have to ask her where she draws the line between technique and automatic improvement.

For the other disciplines though, for me it’s more distinct. If you don’t use a technique while looking at numbers and try to remember as many digits as possible, you won’t remember many more than a beginner. While that sort of misses the point that you eventually start almost automatically using the techniques, you do always need a place to store the images you generate.

Three things do improve though. The first is your technique. As you become more efficient at using the techniques, memorising more information doesn’t take as much effort. The second is self efficacy. Once you’ve memorised enough things, you trust yourself more, which improves your memory. The third is your attentiveness. Once you get used to the idea of paying attention to memorise things, paying more attention gets that little bit easier every time.

So yes, it becomes easier to memorise things without paying as much attention, but no, it isn’t because your ‘natural memory’ has improved, it’s mostly because your technique becomes easier for you to use.