Memory is a funny thing. Joshua Foer, author of Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything, performed outrageous feats of memory to win the USA Memory Championship and yet, as he says, "I still misplace my car keys."
If you want to improve your memory, it's a good idea to know specifically what you wish to remember. If you want to memorise ordered lists of information, then the memory palace technique Foer learned may help.
It's described in the Memory Techniques Wiki at mnemotechnics.org/wiki, together with PAO (Person, Action and Object) and a variety of other advanced techniques.
If you couldn't care less about remembering the order of cards in a deck, but you'd love to be able to put a name to a face, try the steps outlined at Litemind.
And when memory improvement techniques fail you, there are always memory crutches: you'll find numerous smartphone and tablet apps that act both as a supplementary memory store and as a memory jogger.
To avoid being inundated with computer memory optimisers when you search for such apps, make sure you search using terms such as recall, memory jogger ,memory trainer and brain memory.
Memory jogger apps & more
For: iOS | Price: $2.99
Did I remember to turn the stove off? It's Done lets you create a personalised list of daily or one-off tasks and prompts you to complete them.
For: iOS | Price: $4.49
This app lets you quickly associate a person's name with a place. Type gym or surgery into Whoodl and in a flash, it will display all associated names.
Memory Trainer (Urbian)
For: Android | Price: Free
A training program for spatial and working memory, designed to improve your focus and concentration.
Mimir Art of Memory
For: iOS | Price: $1.99
Mimir guides you through a variety of methods for building memory, including linked visual associations to jog your memory for everyday tasks.
Web: www.lumosity.com | Price: From US$4.99/month (yearly) to US$14.99/month, depending on contract length, 14-day free trial
This is an online brain training program with a hefty dose of memory improvement and games designed to aid attention, speed, flexibility and problem solving.
While the jury's still out on whether brain games improve brain function, we know practise helps. What's particularly appealing about Lumosity is its partnership with cognitive scientists from around the world in the Human Cognition Project.
When you become a member, you'll get updates about research into brain training as well as personal updates about your performance.
Similar to Lumosity is Fitbrains. You can try it free for five days without the need for a credit card, or use the limited version for free.
There's some (controversial) evidence that practising the N-Back memory test increases fluid intelligence. It's worth checking out.
Progressive, frequent memory loss is one of the early signs of dementia (there can also be other reasons for such memory loss). If someone you know is suffering from dementia you can find useful resources and information at Alzheimer's Australia. Subscribe to Dementia News, published twice monthly, and download some useful tip sheets.