When it comes to reading, many people have the feeling that they spend time reading a book, only to forget all about it. If this happens to you often, don't get upset, because it's normal, forgetting is a natural physiological phenomenon.
Forgetting is, in a sense, a strategy by the brain to filter information: we are exposed to a lot of information every day, most of which is of little value and doesn't need to be stored, so the brain chooses to do so to filter out information it doesn't think is important. So is there any way to improve this state and improve memory when you read a book? Of course there is. In fact, the brain's memory function has its own rules, if we can understand and make good use of these rules, we can effectively improve the efficiency of reading.
In this article today, I'd like to share with you my knowledge about memory and my reading methods.
Major categories of memory
Let's talk about the classification of memory first. The most commonly heard classification of memory used to be the division of memory into short-term and long-term memory. The reason for this classification is that previous researchers believed that all information is initially stored in short-term memory, and then stored in long-term memory for consolidation by the brain through retelling and integration. If this retelling process is interrupted before consolidation happens, the information will be lost quickly.
However, in recent years, the researchers found that not all of the memories have to undergo such a process could be a long-term memory, some memory is really very short, if no repeat, will soon be forgotten, such as a series of meaningless Numbers, but some memories don't need to repeat can be stored for a long time, sometimes even a lifetime will not forget, some things happened when I was a child, for example, so now basically don't how to use the word short-term memory, but to switch to working memory.
The more popular classification of memory is the following three categories:
Working Memory Implicit Memory Explicit Memory
工作记忆 隐性记忆 显性记忆
Working memory, as its name suggests, is the memory you use to focus on work, learning or thinking at the moment. Working memories last for very short periods of time, perhaps as little as 30 seconds. They don't always disappear after they're used up.Some are immediately erased by the brain, while others are stored for long-term memory.
Of course, long-term memory can be long or short, ranging from days to months or years. We'll talk a little bit about the factors that affect the length of long-term memory. Long-term memory includes recessive memory and explicit memory.
Recessive memory is mainly the memory of movements or steps, such as driving, swimming or dancing, which are muscular motor reflexes formed by practicing a certain movement over and over again. Such memories are called invisible memories because they are difficult to describe in words, and we don't even know how we do it when we use these skills, because they have been internalized by the brain as an instinct.
Explicit memory, on the other hand, is verbal, and when we use it, we need to actively recall it. Explicit memory can be further classified as Semantic memory and Episodic memory.
Semantic memory refers to the memory of all the facts, objects, concepts and words that we store in our heads. Episodic memory is an autobiographical memory system that contains events we can recall from our daily lives, such as memories of the past.
| factors affecting long-term memory
After we talk about the classification of memory, let's take a look at the factors that affect long-term memory:
1. Strength of curiosity
Scientists have identified a link between curiosity and the brain's dopamine system, which is responsible for reward and pleasure, through various experimental studies. When we want to know something because of our intense curiosity, this knowledge or information becomes a "reward", which increases the amount of dopamine in the reward circuit of the brain, and we feel a sense of satisfaction and happiness. Curiosity can also prolong memory. The more curious we are about a piece of information, the longer it remains in our memory.
2. Strength of correlation
Correlation refers to how new information relates to existing information in the brain. We all know that the essence of memory is connection, and the formation of memory, on the biological level, is the formation of connections between neurons. From this point of view, the brain is a vast and complex network in which all memory and thought is carried out through the interconnections of tens of billions of neurons in the brain.
This "connectedness" of memory tells us that we remember new information or knowledge better if we can connect it to what we already know.
This actually explains why we read slowly and forget quickly when we are new to a new field of knowledge -- because we don't have the relevant knowledge in mind to connect with. As we accumulate more relevant knowledge, we will naturally read faster and faster, and remember better.
3. Level of concentration
The ability to pay attention while reading also has a big impact on memory. If we are learning something that is not of interest to us, but if we are able to pay attention and try to understand and remember it actively, it will be much better than if we are absent-minded.
So, when learning, do not let yourself in a loose state, but to focus, actively to learn. Synchronized note-taking is a learning strategy that helps us focus.
4. Times of repeated extraction
We've talked about the nature of memory as connections between neurons -- when a memory is made, neurons build up biochemical and electromagnetic channels between them, called "memory tracks," and the strength of the connections between them represents the strength of the memory.
我们之前说到记忆的本质就是神经元之间的连接——当记忆产生时，神经元与神经元之间会建立起生化电磁通道，这些神经细胞通道叫做 「 记忆轨迹 」，它们之间连接的强弱则代表了记忆的强弱。
Again when we come into contact with this information, or this information was extracted through recall from memory, the relevant neurons are activated, the connection between them will therefore be strengthened, but if the long-term memory is not wake up, then as time goes on, these links will become more and more weak, or even disappear.
While curiosity, connectedness, and attention can make connections between neurons stronger, allowing the brain to create more lasting memories, they only serve to reinforce the initial connections. To eventually avoid forgetting, we must also strengthen the connections between neurons by reviewing them regularly until the memories become solid.
The last factor worth mentioning is the quality of sleep. Although scientists do not yet fully understand the relationship between sleep and memory and learning, there is ample evidence that quality sleep improves learning and memory.
First of all, people who are chronically sleep-deprived are less attentive, which affects learning, and second of all, when we're asleep, the brain is actually active, and it processes the information that's acquired during the day, and it integrates it, and it rewires it and integrates it.
Mind map reading notes
Now that we know the basic rules of memory, how can we put them into practice? In my opinion, the best way is to use mind maps to make reading notes.
We've already mentioned the benefits of note-taking. It helps us focus, but why use a mind map to take notes? One of the most important reasons is that there is a structural conflict between the way books organize information and the way the brain organizes information -- books present information in a linear way, while the brain stores information in a divergent tree structure.
Every book we read, and every chapter of the book, has an internal logical structure, but this logical structure is not well presented in a linear way.
When we read chapter by chapter in a linear structure, the brain feels that we're just putting in a bunch of information that doesn't have much relevance to each other, especially if we're not familiar with the field of reading and the process is stretched too long. The brain then stores this information at will, rather than connecting it in a logical way. Without connections, memory is not strong.
With this understanding, we realize that the process of taking notes with mind mapping is essentially a process of actively seeking out the relationships between information and making it logical and structured. The biggest role of mind mapping notes is to urge us to clarify the relationship between all the ideas and information in the book through active thinking during reading, and then reorganize the information in a divergent tree structure according to the author's thinking logic structure.
In fact, I've been using mind maps for reading notes for many years now, which is an important tool for me to organize information effectively. Every time I read a book, I spend a few days going through it quickly to get a general idea of what it's about. If I think the content of the book is of great value, I will use the method of synchronous mind mapping reading notes to read the book again and clarify the logical structure of the whole book.
To do so, not only can let me has a more profound understanding on the book content and more strong memory, but also conducive to the review of knowledge and information search, because had the mind map, I can quickly review the core content of the book at any time, can also be in need to book some specific content, such as a theory, a view, or an experiment and so on, easily find.
Because of this reading habit, I have accumulated a lot of mind map reading notes over the years, and these notes have become my most powerful database and best writing helper -- I often go back to these mind map notes when I'm writing.
an exploratory reading
In addition to taking notes with mind maps, there is another method of reading that I highly recommend, and that I have been using myself, and that is exploratory thematic reading.
What is exploratory reading? Simply put, it is to take a specific question or topic as the center, and then carry on the related reading around it, the purpose is to deeply understand this topic, solve the confusion in mind.
For example, if you are on the problem "how to control their own emotions" is very interested in, then you can think about the question first and decomposition, think of what it contains more specific problems, such as the problem is subdivided into what "emotion", "what methods of control emotions", and "what is the principle behind these methods", etc., and then to search related books or courses, to read and to learn.
There are two important benefits to research-based reading. On the one hand, it can stimulate our curiosity, when we have a specific practical problem in mind to answer, we will be more interested and motivated to read.
On the other hand, it helps us to build up a network of knowledge in a certain field. Any areas have their own vast knowledge network, a book that covers the content of the is usually limited, we must read several books, choose a few more angles, can the core knowledge in this field and the deep inner logic, we may establish in your mind a preliminary knowledge of network. With this knowledge network, our understanding and thinking about relevant issues will be more in-depth.
Of course, when we have finished the exploratory reading, if we can output it in the form of an article and share it with others, it will not only encourage us to internalize the knowledge through thinking, but also make reading something valuable to others, from which we can get a sense of value and achievement.