According to memory expert Dr. James McGaugh, memory is the way the brain captures information about experiences, and emotion plays a large part in that process. Dr. Oz talks with Dr. McGaugh, a research professor in neurobiology and behavior at the University of California at Irvine, about his book Memory and Emotion, how we remember things and better ways to retain knowledge.
Dr. McGaugh says there are two major conditions that create strong memories: repetition or a single event that elicits very strong emotional arousal. Poems or songs can be remembered well by means of repetition, but if you experience a serious automobile accident, it will be imprinted on the brain because you're going to remember the emotional arousal of the event.
Sleep also makes memory stronger. "There's a lot of evidence that indicates that sleep is not just a neutral condition for learning, but rather the memory of what we learned before we went to sleep will be stronger," he says. "It allows for the most recently learned thing to become consolidated [in our memory] without interference."
Space learning is another beneficial method of learning. Dr. McGaugh says it's more efficient to learn five minutes a day over many days (space learning), as opposed to learning everything at once (mass learning).