Have you ever seen or heard of a person with a super memory? Did he remember all the cards in a deck in perfect order? Maybe he claimed that he had a photographic memory. That, however, is probably not the case. Rather, he or she used simple techniques which you can master too, with little practice (say, 100 hours). After half an hour of practice, you will see fantastic results. The memorizing time is directly related to the number of things to memorize. If you need five minutes in order to remember ten foreign words, you'll need ten minutes in order to remember twenty.
It should be stressed that you will not get a photographic memory. You will be able to remember faces, foreign words, telephone numbers and much more. But you will not be able to look at a picture and then immediately remember every detail in your inner vision. Search the web for books on memory improvement and you will find lots of books claiming that they will give you a photographic memory. This is generally a lie. The systems you will learn on this page, however, are extremely practical and simple to use. And best of all, they work!
The basic theory is that your brain associates everything you learn with what it already knows. Using the memory techniques to follow, you consciously make those associations (in addition to the ones made unconsciously). The other cornerstone used in the techniques is that the brain remembers strange things better than mundane things. This is the absolute essence of memory techniques. Lets see what comes out of it!
Remembering a list of itemsEdit
The two basic methods used for remembering a list are linking and pegwords
After visualizing the first item on your list, visualize it associated with the next item, then visualize that item associated with the third, and so on. For example, to remember a list like "apple, fish, lady, star, stop sign, pencil ..." imagine an apple. Now you shall link this apple with a fish by visualizing (for instance) an apple tree with fishes instead of apples-you could even imagine a fish falling on Newton's head or Eve handing Adam a fish. Remember that it should be weird. Next link the fish with lady by visualizing a mermaid. Next item: Visualize a night sky with shining ladies in the sky instead of stars. Link to stop sign by visualizing a falling star landing on the ground-only instead of a star, when you get up close it's a stop sign, link "stop sign" with "pencil" by imagining a stop sign which is held up not by a metal post, but by a giant pencil.
Pegwords are used if remembering the position of each item is helpful; for example, if you would like to be able to recall the fifth U.S. president. In this system, a list of pegwords is pre-memorized. The pegwords are designed to be easy to visualize, and to associate with a number. For example memorize this list of pegwords. Try to form a mental image of each one.
|1||gun||associate your first item with a gun|
|2||zoo||form a mental image of a zoo|
|3||tree||Associate 3rd item with a tree|
|5||hive||Associate with bees|
And then to remember any list of 10 items you associate the items to be remembered with their pegs. To memorize the grocery list: apples, butter, razor blades, soap, bread, milk, cat food, bacon, batteries, and orange juice,
- you visualize the first item (an apple) being fired from a cannon,
- Link the second item (butter) with zoo by imagining a gorilla stomping up and down on a stick of butter,
- Link third item (razor blades) with tree by imagining a tree with razor blades for leaves,
- a door made of soap
- a swarm of bees flying from a loaf of bread as if it is a hive
- a building which uses milk jugs in place of bricks
- an open can of cat food with angel wings and a halo (imagine its smell)
- bacon on a plate
- a wine glass filled with batteries
- a hen being squeezed and orange juice coming out.
Sound obscure? Close your eyes and try to remember the list.
Writing The List DownEdit
Sometimes, writing down something you wish to remember may help to increase your retention. If you have the time and resources available, you may write down the entire list, maybe a few times, and be able to remember most, if not all of the items. You may also use this to remember paragraphs of text as needed.
Method of LociEdit
The Method of loci was used by the ancient Greeks for oration; that is, for memorizing speeches. It involves mentally transversing a familiar place, for them, a temple, stopping at certain points, and associating those points with sections of a speech.
A system known as the mnemonic major system used to convert numbers into words. See module for details.
Techniques Which Combine Pegwords With the Number SystemEdit
While rhyming peglists are simple to learn they are severely limited in the number of pegs that can be created. 7 rhymes with 11, 21 rhymes with 31 rhymes with 41, etc. Using the major system, rather than rhymes, you can create as many pegs as you want with no ambiguity. This module currently has 116 pegs- enough to accommodate the periodic table.
This module combines the major system with the pegword systems to do some pretty amazing things with cards. It does require a lot of practice, and requires you to be adept at both systems, but you will be surprised with what you can accomplish.
An example of just how powerful this system can be. Pegs for the atomic numbers linked to a pun on the element names or their symbols linked to a phrase describing the atomic mass. This module has yet to be written. You can help.
Remembering foreign wordsEdit
In order to remember a foreign word, or a native word you don't know, all you need to do is to make it concrete in your native language, and then link it with its meaning (which maybe has to be made concrete too). To remember the French word for horse, cheval, make it concrete in english by thinking of the word chew (which is a concrete verb). Then link a horse with chew. Maybe you vividly visualize that you are watching a big, big horse chew some trees from the comfort of your hammock. Then he picks up the trees your hammock is swinging between. Your blood splashes in your face as your bones crunch and you are racked with pain. You curse the horse for chewing you up. So when you think of horse, you immediately think chew, which reminds you of cheval.
In order to remember the Swedish word for luck, tur, you also need to make the native word luck concrete. One easy way is to think of winning a lottery. But emphasize the middle syllable of "lottery": lot-TUR-ry. Think about how much TUR you need to win the lot-TUR-ry.
Remembering faces, art works etcEdit
This is easy if you know any of the other techniques. To connect a face with a name, pick out something in the face and link whatever you picked out with the name. If you meet a girl whose face is shaped like a heart, link a heart with her name. So if her name is Angela, you can imagine an angel descending from heaven, who violently rips out her heart. Imagine her screaming, the blood spraying everywhere, and her squishy heart still beating while falling down to the muddy earth. If you meet somebody with a funny nose, it's easy. If you don't find anything special (but isn't everyone special in some way?) just pick something. What do the lips look like? The ears? The total impression?
The technique to remember the author of a painting is analogous. Only by trying to find something special you are forced to really look, which helps remembering.
How to remember whatever you wantEdit
Combine the above and below techniques, use them as a basis to construct your own personal techniques and remember the essence: Use weird, vivid visualizations; use all your senses (taste, smell, etc); associate what you want to remember with as much as possible. See Wikipedia's list of mnemonics.
Drugs and VitaminsEdit
Some diet supplements, vitamins, herbs and amino acids may also improve your memory and alertness, though very few if any have been scientifically studied for effects on memory. These include the B vitamins, caffeine, amino acids like phenylalanine, (though an overdose can be deadly) melatonin, ginseng, ginkgo biloba, and many others.
There are also a number of prescription-strength drugs which might be legal, but may have side-effects although current studies show some of them to be safe to use. Some of these alleged "smart drugs" include Vasopressin, Hydergine, and Piracetam, and DHEA.
You should consult your physician before taking any drug or supplement, especially if you are taking any other medications. Current research suggests the best ways to keep your memory healthy as you age are to use it frequently (read non-fiction, engage in political conversation, etc.), eat a well-balanced diet, take antioxidant supplements (though overdoses of selenium and vitamins A and E could be fatal), and possibly increase the proportion of omega-3 fatty acids in your diet.