Memory is the retention of information. It is closely associated with learning, which experts say is the ability to change behavior through the acquisition of new knowledge. Memory allows us to retain what we've learned. There are different types of memory.
* Short-term memory is a temporary retention of information, while long-term memory can be permanent. Memory experts say new information can be converted into long-term memory through attention and repetition, a process called consolidation. The retention of facts and events is called declarative memory, and the retention of abilities and skills is termed procedural memory.
* Mnemonics are methods for improving memory by linking information in a context that allows easier recall. Some mnemonic devices include groupings, rhymes, acronyms and visual associations.
* Many people believe their ability to remember declines as they grow older. But some experts say this is a fallacy. They maintain the problem is that most people neglect their memory skills after they leave school. The memory is similar to a muscle, the more it is used, the better it gets.
* Memory can be affected by what you eat. Folic acid and vitamin B-12 are essential for good memory. So is drinking plenty of water and getting enough sleep. Drinking alcohol and smoking can have a negative effect on memory, as can many medications, such as tranquilizers and anti-anxiety drugs.
There are many books available on improving your memory, including Kevin Trudeau's "Mega Memory: How to Release Your Superpower Memory in 30 Minutes or Less a Day," $14, and "Use Your Perfect Memory" by Tony Buzan, $12.95.
* If all else fails, the Internet offers myriad services that promise to notify you by postcard seven to 10 days in advance of your most important dates for the rest of your life, for a one-time fee of $39.