33 - Diving Deeper into Memoryدوره: Coursera – Learning How to Learn / درس 33
33 - Diving Deeper into Memory
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In this video and the next, we’re going to
deepen our understanding of memory.
As you’re probably beginning to
understand, memory is only part
of learning and developing expertise but
it’s often an important part.
It may surprise you to learn that we have
outstanding visual and
spacial memory systems that can help form
part of our long-term memory.
Here’s what I mean.
If you were asked to look around a house
you never visited before, you’d soon have
of the general furniture layout and where
were, color scheme, the pharmaceuticals in
the bathroom cupboard.
In just a few minutes, your mind would
acquire and retain thousands of new pieces
Even weeks later, you’d still hold far
more in your mind than
if you’d spent the same amount of time
staring at a blank wall.
Your mind is built to retain this kind of
general information about a place.
You can greatly enhance your ability to
you tap into these naturally super-sized,
visual, spacial memorization abilities.
Our ancestors never needed a vast memory
for names or numbers
but they did need a memory for how to get
from the three day deer hunt, or for the
location of those
plump blueberries on the rocky slopes to
the South of the camp.
These evolutionary needs helped lock in a
“where things are” and “how they look” memory
To begin tapping into your visual memory
system try making a
very memorable visual image representing
one key item you want to remember.
For example, here’s an image you could use
to remember Newton’s second law.
F is equal to ma.
This is a fundamental relationship
relating force to mass and acceleration.
And it only took humans, oh, a couple of
hundred thousand years to figure out.
The letter f in the formula could stand
for flying, m
could stand for mule, and a, well that’s
up to you.
Part of the reason an image is so
important to memory
is that images connect directly to your
right brain’s visual spacial centers.
The image helps you encapsulate a
seemingly humdrum and hard to remember
concept by tapping into visual areas with
enhanced memory abilities.
The more neural hooks you can build by
evoking the senses, the easier
it will be for you to recall the concept
and what it means.
Beyond merely seeing the mule, you can
smell the mule,
you can feel the same windy pressure the
mule is feeling.
[SOUND] You can even, hear the wind
The funnier and more evocative the images,
Focusing your attention brings something
your temporary working memory, but for
something to move from working memory to
long term memory two things should happen.
The idea should be memorable.
There’s a gigantic flying mule braying f
is equal to ma on my couch.
And it must be repeated.
Otherwise remember your tiny metabolic
vampires, they can suck away
the neural pattern related to that memory
before it can strengthen and solidify.
Even when you make something memorable,
get that memorable item firmly lodged into
Remember to repeat not a bunch of times
in one day but sporadically over several
Index cards can often be helpful.
Writing and saying what you’re trying to
learn seems to enhance retention.
For example, if you’re trying to learn
concepts in physics you
might take an index card and write the
greek letter rho.
That’s a common abbreviation for density.
You’d write it on one side and you’d write
the remaining information on the other.
Handwriting helps you to more deeply
encode, that is
convert into neural memory structures what
you are trying to learn.
While you’re writing out the kilograms per
meter you might imagine a shadowy kilogram
that mass lurking in an oversize piece of
that happens to be one meter on each side.
The more you can turn what you’re trying
into something memorable, the easier it
will be to recall.
You’ll want to say the word and its
aloud to start setting auditory hooks to
Next, just look at the side of the card
with the Greek letter rho on
it, and see whether you can remember
what’s on the other side of the card.
If you can’t, flip it over and remind
yourself what you’re supposed to know.
If you can remember, put the card away.
Now, do something else.
Perhaps prepare another card and test
yourself on it.
Once you have several cards together, try
running through them all
and even mixing them around to see if you
can remember them.
This helps interleave your learning.
Don’t be surprised if you struggle a bit.
Once you’ve given your cards a good try,
put them away.
Wait and take them out again, maybe before
you go to sleep.
Remember that sleep is when your
mind repeats patterns and pieces together
Briefly repeat what you want to remember
over several days.
Perhaps for a few minutes each morning or
Gradually extend the time between the
as the material firms itself into your
By increasing your spacing as you become
of mastery, you’ll lock the material more
firmly into place.
Great flash card systems like Anki have
algorithms that repeat in scale ranging
from days to months.
Interestingly, one of the best ways to
remember people’s names, is to simply try
retrieve the people’s names from memory at
increasing time intervals, after first
learning the name.
I’m Barbara Oakley.
Thanks for learning, about learning.
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