35 - Creating Meaningful Groups and the Memory Palace Technique

دوره: Coursera – Learning How to Learn / درس 35

Coursera – Learning How to Learn

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35 - Creating Meaningful Groups and the Memory Palace Technique

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In this video, we’re going to delve deeper into memory.

Another key to memorization is to create meaningful groups that simplify the material.

Let’s say you wanted to remember four plants that help ward off vampires;

garlic, rose, hawthorn, and mustard.

The first letters abbreviate to GRHM.

So all you need to do to remember is to use the image of a Graham cracker.

It’s much easier to remember numbers by associating them with memorable events.

The year 1965 might be when one of your relatives was born for example,

or you can associate numbers with a numerical system you’re familiar with.

For example, 11.0 seconds,

is a good running time for the 100 meter dash.

Or 75 might be the number of stitches on

a knitting needle for the ski hats you like to make.

Personally, I like to associate numbers with the feelings of when I was,

or will be at a given age.

The number 18 is an easy one.

That’s the age when I went out into the world.

By age 104, I hope to be an an old but happy great grandma.

Many disciplines use memorable sentences to help students memorize concepts.

The first letter of each word in the sentence is also

the first letter of each word in a list that needs to be memorized.

Medicine, for example, is laden with memorable mnemonics.

Among the cleaner of which are,

Some Lovers Try Positions That They Can’t Handle,

to memorize the names of the carpal bones of the hand,

and Old People From Texas Eat Spiders,

for the cranial bones.

Time after time, these kinds of memory tricks prove helpful.

If you’re memorizing something commonly used,

see whether someone’s come up with

a particularly memorable memory trick by searching it out online.

Otherwise, try coming up with your own.

The memory palace technique is

a particularly powerful way of grouping things you want to remember.

It involves calling to mind

a familiar place like the layout of your house and using it as

a visual notepad where you can deposit the concept images that you want to remember.

All you have to do is call to mind the place you’re familiar with;

your home, your route to school,

or your favorite restaurant,

and voila in the blink of an imaginative eye,

this becomes the memory palace that you’ll use as your notepad.

The memory palace technique is useful for remembering

unrelated items such as a grocery list, milk, bread, eggs.

To use the technique,

you might imagine a gigantic bottle of milk just inside your front door,

the bread plopped on the couch,

and a cracked egg dribbling off the edge of the coffee table.

In other words, you’d imagine yourself walking through a place you know well,

coupled with shockingly memorable images of what you want to remember.

If you’re studying finance, sociology, chemistry,

or what have you and you have lists to remember,

you could use this same approach.

The first time you do this, it will be slow.

It takes a bit of time to conjure up a solid mental image.

But the more you do it, the quicker it becomes.

One study showed that a person using

the memory palace technique could remember more than 95 percent of

a 40 to 50 item list after only one or two practice

mental walks where the items were placed on the grounds or the local university.

In using the mind this way,

memorization can become an outstanding exercise in creativity

that simultaneously build neural hooks for even more creativity.

Purists might sniff that using oddball memorization gimmicks isn’t really learning,

but research has shown that students who use

these kinds of tricks outperform those who don’t.

In addition, imaging research on how people become experts

shows that such memory tools speed up the acquisition of both chunks,

and big picture templates helping transform novices to

semi experts much more quickly even in a matter of weeks.

Memory tricks allow people to expand

their working memory with easy access to long term memory.

What’s more, the memory process itself becomes an exercise in creativity.

The more you memorize using these innovative techniques,

the more creative you become.

This is because you’re building these wild unexpected possibilities for

future connections early on even as you’re first internalizing the ideas.

The more you practice this type of memory muscle so to speak,

the more easily you’ll be able to remember.

Where first it may take 15 minutes

to build an evocative image for an equation and embed it say,

in the kitchen sink of your memory palace.

It can later take only minutes or seconds to perform a similar task.

You also realize that as you begin to internalize key aspects of the material,

taking a little time to commit the most important points to memory,

you come to understand it much more deeply.

The formulas will mean far more to

you than it would if you simply look them up in a book.

And you’ll be able to sling those formulas around much more proficiently on tests,

and in real world applications.

You may say, ‘‘Well,

you’re just not that creative.


An equation or theory could hardly have

its own grandiose motivations or

persnickety emotional needs to help you understand and remember it.

But always remember, your childlike creativity is still there inside you.

You just need to reach out to it.

I’m Barbara Oakley.

Thanks for learning how to learn.

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