Introduction to Memory Systems
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Poems, Acronyms, Rhymes, & Acrostic
You are probably already familiar with these mnemonic techniques and may have used them to help you learn new material. They can be fun and will help develop your creative thinking. Here is a review:

Poems and Rhymes
Rhyme, rhythm, repetition and melody can all act as an aid to forming memories. Our brains have an amazing auditory capacity. Just think of all the songs you can instantly recognize by hearing just a few short musical notes. You may not recall the name of the song or all of the words to it but you do know that you have heard the music before.

Perhaps the best example is the alphabet. Most children memorized the alphabet by singing their letters to the melody of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”. Did you?

Have you ever heard this little rhyme…
30 Days has September
April, June, and November
All the rest have 31
Except February alone
Which has but 28 days clear
And 29 in each leap year
Here is an example for remembering Roman Numerals:
i am a Roman soldier 1
5 Victories I have won
X marks the spot where 10 comrades fell
only 50 Lived to tell
100 more were Captured in war
now we fight 500 Days more
1000 soldiers Marching on tour
And this famous line for remembering an important date…
In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue.
When you spell Mississippi do you sound out each letter slowly or do you add a little rhythm to the letters. Miss-iss-ipp-i?

Rhyme, rhythm, repetition and melody will help you remember by taking advantage of auditory encoding and your brain’s impressive ability to store these audio triggers. With a little creativity they can be applied to single words, general information, formulas, and even complex concepts.

Acronyms are everywhere! They are used in ordinary language, government, industry, and in almost every field of study. An acronym is a word formed from the initial letter or letters of a series of words or compound term. It is not unusual to find the same acronym having different meanings. They can be very helpful for remembering words in a specified order. Examples:
Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus

National Basketball Association

Compact Disk - Read Only Memory

Grade Point Average
In many cases we know what the acronym means but don’t always know what it stands for. The acronym has become part of the common language and its component words forgotten or never known to the user.

The Internet has spawned a whole new set of acronyms designed to aid communication while minimizing typing!
By The Way

Laughing Out Loud

Talk To You Later
Other acronyms are specifically created to help you remember certain things such as:
For the names of the Great Lakes, Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior.

For remembering the key elements of administering first aid which are Danger, Response, Airway, Breathing, and Circulation.

Students of music can create an association with this acronym to remember the names of the four voices in a quartet, the Soprano, Tenor, Alto, and Bass.
You may have noticed that the title of this chapter was arranged so that the words poems, acronyms, rhymes, and acronyms can be used to form the acronym PARA. If you wanted to remember these four mnemonic techniques you might encode a vivid association to trigger the word PARA. Perhaps the image of a brain parachuting into your head to rescue your memory. Whatever works for you!

Sometimes acronyms can be difficult to form because the information doesn’t allow you to create a comprehensible or memorable word. In those cases you may want to use one of your other memory techniques or try to form an acrostic phrase.

A simple form of acrostics is a phrase where the first letter of every word in the phrase is used to remember another word. They are relatively easy to make and can be very useful for remembering groups of words. Here are a few examples:
Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge.
For remembering the lines of the treble music staff EGBDF.

Run Off You Great Big Invisible Vampire.
For remembering the colours of the spectrum as Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet.

My Very Excellent Mom Just Served Us Nine Pizzas.
For remembering the planets of the solar system. Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto.

Never Eat Sour Watermelons
For remembering the points of a compass in clockwise order, North, East, South, and West.

King Philip Can Only Find His Green Slippers
For remembering the classification system of Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species.
Poems, acronyms, rhymes, and acrostics are an effective way to improve recall. Whenever necessary use your powers of association and elaboration to remember them. For example, an image of nine pizzas rotating around the sun should help recall the acrostic related to the planets in our Solar System.

Quick Review:
  • Rhyme, rhythm, repetition and melody make use of our brain’s impressive ability to encode audio information.
  • Acronyms can be used to remember words in sequence or a group of words representing things or concepts.
  • Acrostics are phrases where the first letter of each word represents another word. They offer more flexibility and can be used when an acronym can’t be formed.
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