How to Improve Recognition Memory

improve recognition memory

Recognition memory is the process of recognizing previously encountered events, people, or objects. When we experience something we already experienced, or see something we have already seen, this content is compared to previously stored memories, evoking matching signals. Recognition memory can be useful for studying, especially when taking multiple-choice tests.

So, how can you improve recognition memory?

How Does It Work?

Recognition memory manifests itself in two processes: familiarity and recollection. This is best illustrated with an example from George Mandler. Say you are sitting on a bus. You look to your right and notice a man – you feel like you’ve seen him before, but you can’t remember how or where. That first feeling is called familiarity. As you keep looking at him, you begin fetching some concrete details about him. Maybe you remember him wearing an apron, or giving you some meat in a grocery store. That is recollection.

Recollection plays a vital role in studying, as well as memorizing concepts and their relations.

What Can You Do to Improve It?

Different processes affect our recollection abilities. There are many things you can do to improve recognition memory. Try some of these methods:

  • Study during the day – Research shows that light may have a positive effect on recognition. Avoid studying at night, or in badly-lit rooms.
  • Mnemonics – Memorizing things can be a lot easier if we make it catchy and familiar. Use abbreviations, rhymes, and familiar concepts to explain new ones.
  • Study in groups – As a study by the University of California shows, studying in groups can yield better results when it comes to recalling concepts and definitions. Gather your friends and start a study group.
  • Simulate conditions –  Research that we are more likely to remember things if testing conditions match the learning conditions. Try to imagine the situation where you’ll be required to recollect the information you’re learning.

We hope these tips will help you work on your recognition memory. Remember – there is no point in just reading words from a piece of paper. While learning new things, always ask questions, connect concepts, and think about what you’re studying.