Can’t remember the name of that enchanting person you met yesterday? Struggling to recall where you were supposed to meet your friend for dinner? Are you frustrated by such problems and want to improve your memory? Then look no further because help is here.’Learn to Remember‘ by Dominic O’Brien is a beautifully illustrated and expertly written guide to enhance and improve the memory. By targeting key brain functions, O’Brien leads readers through the memory maze. It begins with a detailed, easy-to-understand explanation of how memory works, covering long-term, short-term and suppressed memory as well as storage, retention, and recollection. By following various tried-and-tested methods and the step-by-step exercises, readers can train their memories to be more effective at expanding range and improving accuracy and efficiency.
LESSON 1: 3 Principles For Amazing Memory
PRINCIPLE 1: Imagination
According to Aristotle, memory and imagination are strongly linked. Imagination uses both sides of the brain which will improve your memory. Incorporating the five senses into your visualizations will help the three strongest memory senses: a) vision,b) sound and c) smell. Sensual experiences aren’t always enough and require imagination. The more bizarre the images, the more retrievable it will be. Think about it. What are you more likely to remember? A rainbow horse with a jet-pack on its back or an ordinary horse?
PRINCIPLE 2: Association
Association is a mental link between two different things. For example, you walk back to work at lunchtime and you see a mail van pass by. The van sparks your memory that you had to mail a birthday letter to your mother. Many associations occur naturally and spontaneously. For example we often associate glasses with intelligence because of its association with reading. You can consciously make associations to boost your memory. For example, lets say I meet a girl called Ruby Smith. To remember her name I could associate Ruby with her ruby colored hair and Smith with her nose that looks like Mr. Smith. The next time I see Ruby, I’ll be able to recall her name by seeing her ruby colored hair and her Mr. Smith’s nose. It can be difficult to make associations but try your best and be creative.
PRINCIPLE 3: Location
O’Brien attributes his success in the world memory championships to this principle, ‘what do you do when you lose your keys’. Most people will retrace their steps. An example of using the art of location studies show that people who have spent the day traveling are especially accurate in recalling the sequence of the events in the day. The locations we find ourselves in serves as a mental framework that helps us remember.
LESSON 2: 4 Powerful Memory Techniques
TECHNIQUE 1: Mnemonics
A mnemonic is a device that helps us to remember something word based. Mnemonics like acronyms and rhymes are a common way to help recall information. Although it has been criticized as a technique that doesn’t help you understand. The information you’re memorizing however can come in handy for exams. I had a marketing exam last week and I used an acronym to remember the five laws of shopping: PALMS- Purchase goals, Availability, Limited time, Many short trips and Selective purchasing. Rhymes are another type of mnemonic. A common one to remember is how many days there are in each month, it goes like this,’30 days have September, April, June and November. All the rest have 31 except February, my dear son it has 28 and that is fine but in a leap year it has 29.’
TECHNIQUE 2: Story Method
I have a list of five items: a backpack, a diamond, a banana, a basketball and a bowling ball. The idea is to form a story that links together. Use each item to make your story interesting. Use your imagination to link the first two items backpack and diamond. You could say I was searching through my smelly backpack to find my dazzling diamond ring. By making items more vivid and imagining sounds and smells you will cement them into your mind.
TECHNIQUE 3: Loci Method
This is perhaps the most powerful technique because it combines the three major principles of memory- imagination, association and location. The method is based on a familiar mental route or a memory palace that includes a number of stages to act as anchors for the items we need to remember. Golfers often use this method without realizing when they recount their stories of every hole they played. A golf course has 18 holes or stages and the layer of the course is deeply ingrained in their minds. As they tell their story they imagine themselves going on a journey from hole to hole and recalling the particular shot they did.
Whether you’re a golfer or not here’s how you can do it. Take this list again and imagine a familiar route you take in real life. for example I can vividly remember the journey I took through my school when I was younger. This is my memory palace. In the morning I’d walk past the gate into the classroom and go to the playground for recess. That’s three stages in the journey that I could anchor an item to. I could imagine bumping into the school gate and everything spilling out of my smelly backpack. Next I find a dazzling diamond ring on my desk that my secret lover put there for me. Lastly I run to the playground and accidentally slip on a moldy banana peel and bump my head.
TECHNIQUE 4: Dominic System
This system can be extremely effective when it comes to recalling large numbers or memorizing a deck of randomly shuffled playing cards. This system works by seeing numbers as images because images are easier to remember. Images of people work best. Assign a letter to each number from 0 to 9. 1 is A, 2 is B, 3 is C and so on. Its often better to mix logical connections with creative ones for example 0 could represent ‘O’ because they look the same. Now group the numbers into pairs all the way up to 99. These pairs are then used to create the initials of people’s names. Using the number and letter pairs we created in the case of memorizing randomly shoveled playing cards. We convert spades to S, hearts to H, clubs to C and diamonds to D. We then convert the card number to its own letter as we did before. A two of clubs would become BC or Bill Clinton, a 10 of diamonds would become a OD or the amazing One Direction. Now combine this system with the loci and story methods. Place each character at a stage in your memory palace and make a story out of it. This is an incredibly powerful way to boost your memory capacity that O’Brien used to recall 412 playing cards at the world memory championships.
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Also published on Medium.