Go back

If memory's a problem, attend next research forum April 12

Perhaps the best way to remember the names of the Great Lakes is from an old school trick – arrange the letters to form the word HOMES, in which H stands for Lake Huron, O for Ontario, M for Michigan, E for Erie and S for Superior.

Such a method is studied in the field of mnemonics, or how people memorize and recall information. For Dr. Charles Grah, professor of psychology at Austin Peay State University, mnemonics is a recent interest.
Perhaps the best way to remember the names of the Great Lakes is from an old school trick — arrange the letters to form the word “HOMES,” in which “H” stands for Lake Huron, “O” for Ontario, “M” for Michigan, “E” for Erie and “S” for Superior.

Such a method is studied in the field of mnemonics, or how people memorize and recall information. For Dr. Charles Grah, professor of psychology at Austin Peay State University, mnemonics is a recent interest.

“My academic interest always have been in the areas of learning, memory and cognition,” he said. “Mnemonics is simply an extension of my long-standing interest in memory.”

Grah, a longtime faculty member at APSU, will share a number of topics about mnemonics, including strategies effective in memorizing pieces of information, at the next Faculty Research Forum.

“Mnemonics: The Science and Art of Maximizing Memory” will be presented from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Thursday, April 12 in the Morgan University Center, Room 308.

Grah said a portion of his talk will focus on some of the recent winners of the World Memory Championship.

“Believe it or not, there is such a thing. It's governed by the World Memory Sports Council,” he said. “The bulk of the research suggests that most of the champions aren't gifted in an intellectual sense. They have just devised a variety of mnemonic strategies that are effective in memorizing what they are asked to memorize.”

Strategies, such as the method of loci, keyword method and the pegword method, will be discussed, Grah said.

“We also will look at how some of these have been used in a variety of applied contexts such as special education, gerontology and cognitive rehabilitation, sometimes with astounding effects,” he said. “For example, one study reports that the use of mnemonic instruction with mildly handicapped students had three times the effect of other well-known variables like class size, psycholinguistic training and drug interventions.”

Also at the forum, Grah will explore general issues about mnemonics — whether the strategies promote or inhibit meaningful learning and whether people should develop their own mnemonics or rely on those devised for others.

In 1977, Grah joined the faculty at APSU. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in Psychology in 1971 from San Diego State University and, later, both his master's and doctoral degrees in psychology from the University of New Mexico.

Sponsored by the Office of Academic Affairs, the Faculty Research Forum provides an opportunity for faculty members to share their research and creative works with their peers, students and members of the community. The brown-bag lunch sessions are open to the public at no charge. Free beverages will be provided.

For more information, contact Grah by telephone at (931) 221-7231 or by e-mail at grahc@apsu.edu. -- Melony Leazer