Repeating things over and over again is something you learned in grade school. But, it turns out this memory trick is not just for children. Here’s how repetition helps preserve memory.
Practice Makes Perfect (Recall)
There is a reason why there are so many memory games out there. The repetition helps retain information. As a child, you learned the Alphabet Song. Or, maybe practiced tying your shoes until you could do it alone.
As adults, the power of repetition doesn’t change. And, it’s not so much the “input” that people have a problem with. The brain is remarkably resilient and will retain most new information. The trouble comes during “recall” or trying to remember that information.
Every time you learn something new, your brain cells make a new connection. Your brain puts it into short-term memory so that it can file it into long-term memory later. Usually, this happens when you sleep.
When you repeat the same information, you are essentially training your brain to retrieve the memory repeatedly. And, every time you retrieve, or recall, the memory you are creating new connections to it. This makes the information even more accessible in the future.
Furthermore, many people stop at being able to retrieve the memory a couple of times. They figure it’s a done deal and move onto something new. Unfortunately, being able to recall something relatively new doesn’t guarantee to recall further down the road.
If you want to fully commit something to memory, you need to practice all the time. Think of piano lessons as a child. Just because you learned a piece doesn’t mean you stopped practicing it. As a matter of fact, when you moved onto something new the old piece was simply added to the practice list. Meaning: you still practiced repetition even when you don’t need the information immediately anymore.
Whether it’s a new skill or new face, repetition helps preserve memory and keeps you from forgetting vital information. If “practice makes perfect,” repeating new information should eventually give you perfect recall.