Imagination, visualisation, and it's role in memory and problem solving.

Why is Imagination and Visualisation so important?

Imagining things can keep you interested in a topic, and make it more fun and fun = memorable.
If you are trying to associate two unrelated items, and you use your imagination to put them both into a scene, you will likely remember it.
Now if you REALLY get into the imagined image in your head, imagine the sounds and feel and even smell of the situation, you are even more likely to remember it!!!

YOU MUST PUT IN AN EFFORT TO REALLY BE THERE !! Read It, Write It, Say It, Sing It, Imagine it !!

Imagining can also be used to put you into a mind state that is more optimal for learning and doing.
The limitations of your memory are typically more closely aligned to what you believe they are than anything else. If you know you are going to learn something, surprisingly you more often than not do succeed! Relax and enjoy it's power. A sports example would be the football player who is kicking or throwing the ball, imagining/visualising him/herself doing it perfectly... and then going out on the field and doing just that.
In a learning environment, there are many examples of similar impressive events.
For example if you say to students, "imagine you are really a genius", and then do some memory tests on them, they will perform better!!
Similarly experiments have shown that if you split up a class randomly into 2 groups and you tell one group that they are the smart ones, then by the end of the teaching period, the ones labelled smart will have done better than the other group irrespective of the truth of the matter initially.

Using your imagination is something which can lead to coming up with solutions to problems which you might never have come across if you were not being 'silly'.
In fact, lateral thinking is all about using your imagination and some techniques to come up with initially 'silly' seeming thoughts, to think about things in a different way.
Please see De bono's thoughts on this topic

Imagining and visualising the topic you are thinking about in different ways, can help you to organise it better.
The process of doing this organising, results in more and stronger associations being formed in the mind.

How should I use my imagination and visualisation during learning?

Firstly you should get yourself into a state of believing that you are going to learn and that it is fun!
Perhaps spend a couple of minutes at the start imagining yourself reading through the information, and it lighting up your mind like a christmas tree.

You must be a mixture of relaxed, keenly interested and confident as you study.

Make a point of getting into the habit of being able to bring on that mindstate. Practice bringing on that mindstate.
When it is time for that exam, you should be able to do the same through sheer force of habit.
You will remember best if you are in the same mindstate as you were in when you were studying.

As you are actually learning and lighting up that christmas tree mind, make a habit of imagining interesting things about the things you are learning and actually scribbling reminders for yourself about your interesting imagined things.
Stimulate yourself ! The more excited you get about a piece of information, the more likely you are to remember it. So try to find things which will make you excited or interested in a topic, even if you have to get into it a little more or go sideways slightly. You can then CONNECT the things you find less interesting into the more interesting information.
Remember that vividly imagining and visualising a scene is as good as seeing it as far as memory is concerned and visual memory is very powerful.
You can use these later as ways to bring back the information from memory in all it's color!