10 Things I Learned In My FIRST MEMORY LESSON, With Two-Time World Memory Champion Simon Reinhard
Simon is a two-time world memory champion as well as in the Guiness Book of World Records for memorizing 92 digits in a row in less than a minute.
As part of Simon creating a memory course, he is giving me lessons and the course creators are videotaping them to turn into a course. Since this was just the first of ten lessons I feel comfortable sharing what I learned (if I remember what I learned!).
He taught me a technique to start off with and we did a sample test to see if it worked and it did.
1. Decline in memory is not age related like many think.
It's just that we are out of practice. When you are kid you are constantly memorizing things for tests, etc and we lose that skill as we get older because we don't practice it enough.
2. Memory is useful.
Take two chessplayers equal in all other respects but one has a much better memory than the other. The one with the better memory will win.
3. First simple technique: recall a place you've been (or have seen) with ten locations. Make a mental path to get from one location to the other
Simon showed me an area outside of an apartment building. There were ten locations numbered in the photograph he showed me. "Make sure the locations are not more than 2 meters apart."
The locations in the photograph he showed me were a tree, a garbage can, a bench, a box, a street sign, bicycles, a grate, a pipe, a car, a tree. I visualized them by pretending to what from one to the other in my head. BUT...perhaps it would've been better for me to use a location I was more familiar with.
4. The idea: when given a list of ten words, "put" a word, in order, in the ten locations.
So the first word would go with the tree, the second word would go with the garbage can (using the example locations described above).
5. How do you "put" or associate a word with a location?
You can use:
Shape: so if you are memorizing the word "ball" and the location also has something round (like a bicycle has a round wheel) you can link the two.
Color: So if you are memorizing "tomato" and the location is a red stop sign, you can link them by color.
Story: I had to put the word "gold" with a park bench. So I made up a quick mini-story that the bench came from a fairy tale and it was a magic bench made out of gold.
He gave me ten words (which I still remember): horse, tree, gold, meat, brick, bicycles, suitcase, wall, cat, giant.
I then remembered them by "walking" in my mind on the path with the tree, garbage can, bench, box, and putting a word in each location.
I used stories to link them together. So the horse was tied up to the tree. And a cat was stuck in the car, etc.
6. Memorizing 40 words is as easy as memorizing 10 words.
Simon said, "you just need 40 locations. The only difference is it will take you four times as long." Various studies show this is true. Here is one:
7. Why does it work?
Oddly, in that paper above which I just found randomly, is a quote from an old friend of mine from graduate school. I haven't' seen or spoken to him in 30 years. But here is his quote from that paper:
“What most mnemonics do is to impose meaning and structure to material that would otherwise be meaningless and unstructured,” says Fernand Gobet (University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK), a psychologist who has studied expert memory extensively. “They do so by making associations between items to learn and items that are already stored in long-term memory. Mnemonics also force one to pay attention to relevant features of the material, and to ‘process’ the material more deeply than by simply rehearsing it. Various experiments have shown that these techniques are effective, although some of them can be hard and time consuming to learn” (5).
8. Simon noticed that after years of using this technique it has bled over into other areas of his life:
For instance, shooting pool. He can picture the angles more clearly. Or drawing a picture since he notices more details in locations now.
9. Don't be too linear with your locations.
In other words, if the place is a street lined with stores, don't use the stores as the locations since they all look largely the same.
This is why he is also against the "memory palace" technique. Which is a similar technique where the locations are all rooms in a palace. "The rooms and hallways all look the same so if you use a palace, it won't work so well."
10. You can use this technique to memorize over 60,000 digits in a row.
The world record holder for memorizing digits of Pi is Lu Chao who memorize 67,890 digits in a row. he used this technique as described in the article below. Interestingly, they also did a test that showed he did not have any memory advantage over the average person when he was unable to use this technique.
here is the article: https://www.livescience.com/50134-pi-day-memory-experts.html