SFI Health
Memory Recall: How to improve your memory

Memory Recall: How to improve your memory

Our tips to help improve your memory, concentration and learning retention.

Lifestyle insight
Reading time: 4 minutes


What is memory recall?  

Memory recall is a retrieval process in your brain that allows you to select information that has been stored based on a series of cues. Memory recall can access stored information in both the short-term and long-term memory.

What are signs of memory recall?

Your ability to recall memories is a sign of effective learning retention, based on how you learnt and acquired the information to be stored to your memory.

If you experience memory lapses you may notice you are:

  • Occasionally forgetting where you left things
  • Forgetting or interchanging names
  • Having trouble remembering details of a conversation
  • Occasionally walking into a room and forgetting why you entered
  • Becoming easily distracted
  • Forgetting details of a conversation.

What is memory recall?

Your prompts for recalling memories are triggered by involuntarily sensory cues (such as from a familiar sense smell or sight) or voluntarily cues (such as asking yourself a question).

Many factors can affect your ability of memory recall. If you are experiencing stress, fatigue, dehydration, have a poor diet or are trying to do many things at once, it can influence your working memory or your ability to recall memories. Your age can also affect your memory, and it can be common among older adults to have lapses in memory more often.

Sometimes having an underlying medical concern can affect your ability to recall memories, so it is important to speak to you doctor if you have noticed a change in your ability to recall memories.

Helping to avoid a decline in memory recall

If you do not have an underlying medical condition that is affecting your ability to retrieve memories but you find you are experiencing lapses in memory, there may be a few techniques you can use to help improve your memory:

  • Use reminders, such as calendars, mobile phone apps and alarms or to-do lists
  • Learn a new skill or hobby to help improve your ability to learn
  • Be socially active and engage in conversation with friends and family for mental stimulation
  • Rehearse information, such as by saying it out loud
  • Break down tasks or numbers to help you memorise
  • Create associations between unfamiliar and familiar words or patterns
  • Organise your phone numbers and bills, and put your wallet and keys in the same place each day.

Memory recall management and healthy living

If you are having some trouble recalling memories, consider making some lifestyle changes. Try to get plenty of rest, make time for regular exercise and try to eat a healthy diet that includes plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts fish, olive oil and whole grains.

Try keeping your mind active by reading, doing puzzles, learning, or any other forms of brain exercises. Brain activity has been found to help brain function and improve memory. Find activities you enjoy, such as crosswords, reading, learning a new language or making a quilt.

Try to avoid drinking alcohol and if you are a smoker, it is a good idea to quit smoking.

Interesting facts

You may have used the phrase, “tip of my tongue” or ‘TOT’, when trying to recall inaccessible information while having a strong feeling of knowing it. If you experience TOT you may find you’re able to retrieve the memory after about a minute, or sometimes it can take days.

Some health professionals consider TOT a type of memory blocking technique your brain uses to stop you from accessing information. TOT can occur more frequently with age, up to about two to four times a week.


References available on request.

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