Memory Games

Have Fun While You Improve Your Memory

Card games can help exercise your memory.

© iStockphoto/musk

Have you ever looked up a phone number and repeated it over and over to yourself until you dialled it correctly?

This draws on your working memory; however, just moments after dialling the telephone number, chances are you have forgotten it.

This is because the telephone number was not "committed" to your long-term memory.

And, while working memory is reliable for quick recall of bits of information (like phone numbers), it can hold only a few pieces of information and only for a very short time.

To remember things for a longer amount of time, you must connect the new information with information you already have, "committing" it to your long-term memory, which stores more information and, for a longer period of time.

There are, of course, many 'serious' techniques for improving your memory. (And you can find many in Mind Tools memory techniques section  .) But you can also have a bit of fun "working out" with memory games. This article introduces several games to workout your memory, individually or in a team.

Story Telling

One way to remember the information you need to commit to long-term memory is to make up a story that "connects" the items or facts you need to remember, thus making them easier to recall. The idea here is that it's easier to remember more information when one fact or item connects to another.

While making up the story, create a strong mental image of what's happening. This helps to "connect" the data to an image and better cement it in your long-term memory.

For an example, read our article on story telling technique  .

It's fun to practice using this technique in a group. Practice by laying out 20 or more objects on the table and trying to remember them. Each member of the group takes his or her turn to add to the story by including another object.

If the first three objects are an apple, a key and a mobile phone, here's how the story might start:

Person 1: In the orchard, ripe apples were falling from the trees.
Person 2:But the gate to the orchard was locked and John had brought the wrong key.
Person 3: So he called Sue from his mobile phone to see if she could help.
...

Once all the objects have been included in the story, remove them all from the room. See who can remember the most items. Now tell the story again as a group, taking it in turns. The group will probably be able to remember the whole story and so recall all the items.

Pexeso: Matching Pairs

Pexeso involves matching pairs of like cards or tiles from a large group, when one of each group is hidden.

You play Pexeso with a set of cards or tiles that includes pairs of picture or numbers. You can play using half a pack of standard playing cards – just remove 2 of the 4 suits, so you have just 2 aces, 2 kings, 2 queens and so on.

Start by laying out 24 of the cards, making sure the 24 cards consists of 12 matched pairs. Once face down, move the cards around so that you do not know where any single card is located.

Turn one card over at a time, take a look at the number or object, and then turn it face down again. Repeat this process until you turn over a card that matches a card you turned over earlier. Now find the card's 'mate' by remembering from earlier where it is located. As you find a matched pair, remove them from the group. The number of cards dwindles until all the pairs are matched.

Time yourself and see how you improve (get faster) each time you play.

As you get better, increase the number of cards you start with, moving from the original 24 to 30, then to 36, 42 and so on.

'Blind' Jigsaw Puzzles

Another fun and inexpensive way to give your concentration and memory a boost is the good old-fashioned jigsaw puzzle. Playing it 'blind' means without referring back to the picture on the box!

First, look at a picture of the completed puzzle. Give yourself a few minutes to commit it to memory.

Next, mix up the pieces to the jigsaw puzzle.

Now, work to put it back together without looking at the picture of the completed puzzle again (until you are done).

Trivia Quizzes

A great way to improve how well you recall information is to play trivia quizzes. The trivia can be about anything – movies, history, even about your specific business.

Whilst you can easily purchase trivia quiz board games and books, you can also make up your own questions when you are playing in a group.

Each person submits a list of questions (and answers!) and then to 'quiz master' takes questions from each person's list in turn.

When you play with a new set of trivia questions, you rely on your recall of prior knowledge and experience to find the answers. If you play with the same questions in a few days or weeks later, you will also rely on memory of playing the game last time. Both new questions and re-runs are good for building you memory skills.

This site teaches you the skills you need for a happy and successful career; and this is just one of many tools and resources that you'll find here at Mind Tools. Click here for more, subscribe to our free newsletter, or become a member for just $1.

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