!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> Streamline Training & Documentation: How to Correct an Incorrect Memory

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

How to Correct an Incorrect Memory

I was happy to find advice in the July-August issue of Scientific American Mind concerning how to get your brain to forget something you've learned incorrectly, and to substitute in your memory the correct information.

Gordon Bower, a professor of psychology at Stanford, explains that what's involved is memory monitoring — the process of identifying, correcting and averting memory errors.

The key to replacing incorrect information in your memory is "consistent (even silent) correction." Bower explains that it's best to consciously "rehearse" the correct information at spaced intervals (i.e., cramming is not particularly effective).

Bower also suggests, "Building on the correct information can help you learn new associations to it: add something to change how you retrieve the item from your memory." For example:
  • If you're having trouble calling a man's second wife by her own name rather than by the name of his first wife, "You might replace your question 'Name of John’s wife?' with 'Name of John’s second wife?'"

  • To cement correct spellings of words like "weird" and "niece," you can "use an elaboration that contains the accurate information, such as 'We are weird' or 'My niece is nice."

  • If you're having trouble remembering that 7 x 9 is 63, not 65 or some other incorrect amount, "convert 7 x 9 into 7 x (10 – 1) = 70 – 7 = 63. As you practice the elaborated association, the simpler direct association (7 x 9 = 63) eventually replaces the earlier one, which weakens without rehearsals.
Finally, Bower cautions, "Labeling and rehearsing the wrong association (for example, saying to yourself, '7 x 9 is not 63'), ... are distinctly counterproductive."