I know its been a good while since I last blogged, and I apologize for that, but I have been super busy. November was the month of me officially switching to my new numbers system (part 1 of 2) and now December is part 2 of 2. The results have been awesome thus far. Unfortunately I won't disclose all the details about the system on here just yet, maybe closer to the US competition in March. But its moving right along. Anyways, for those of you awesome people out there who got a chance to go to my talk at the University of Miami this past Monday, thank you! It was an amazing turnout with about 200 people smashed into a room that holds about 180. I know there was free food, but I really got the impression that everyone there was totally interested in memory and how to improve it. The crowd was really responsive and I feel like they were impressed with what I could do as well as what their own brains have the potential to do as well.
To quickly summarize what I talked about and what I believe are the basic fundamental steps to improving your memory:
1). Use multi-sensory imagery. This involves encoding the information you want to memorize into visual images in your mind's eye. The reason this works so well is because the brain prefers pictures; it thinks in pictures. If you need to memorize a word, picture an image of what the word represents or if that is too abstract, think of an image of something that sounds like the word. For other more abstract things like numbers, equations, language, the hard part is coming up with a code to convert them into images. I briefly mentioned my system for numbers (which you can google for more info - just search things like "the major system" or "the dominic system", both are systems which translate a number to a letter). The point is to be creative. Just like a person learning Japanese, when they first learn the word for "dog", they probably thought they were just looking at a bunch of incoherent symbols that made no sense. But over time, as the person became fluent in the language, the abstract symbols no longer look abstract, they BECOME the image of the dog. The brain can learn to convert things from one to another, even if it seems difficult at the beginning. Like I mentioned in my talk, when I first began with my number system, seeing the number 48 took me a good few seconds to translate to "dog." But now, I look at it and I don't even see the numbers anymore, I just see a dog.
2). Create journeys to store these images! Use a familiar place that you can visualize in your mind with ease and populate it with the encoded images you are trying to memorize. In these journeys, select as many anchor points as you need (anchor points being distinct areas or things along the journey - a room, a wall, a corner of a room, a sofa, a carpet, etc.). The more anchor points, the more storage space and the more powerful your memory will be in holding bigger and bigger amounts of information.
3). When attaching your images to the anchor points, try to use all of your senses. Be as silly, sexual, and/or violent in thinking about your images because those are they types of memories that we hold on to better. Have these images interacting with the anchor points to store them. Be careful when using a specific journey too often, images can become confused and mixed with others. To avoid this, its nice to have multiple journeys which you can cycle through as you memorize different things from day to day.
4). One thing I may not have mentioned in my talk is how to keep things in your memory forever. Obviously in competition I need to forget things as soon as I'm done with whatever I memorized, but say I wanted to keep that 300 digit number I memorized. Then what? Well, simple....review. And, you must keep the Journey you used as the unique, the one and only, journey for that set of numbers. So, you need to review the numbers say, once a day for a week, then maybe twice a week after that, then maybe once a week, once a month, a few times a year, etc. until it makes its way into your long term memory.
Hope that helps! I saw a lot of you taking notes (and filming?) so I hope I was able to help you study for your finals!
Tonight on NBC 6 you can catch my interview from after the talk!
Stay tuned for updates about the World Memory Championship, which begin today!