Mind Hack XV: Cool Techniques And Rules Of Thumb Tips To Increase Your Cognitive Ability And Memory From Joshua Foer

Me: For Mind Hack XV, I found this amazing interview a past memory champion Joshua Foer did on his journey and process to learn the ways and techniques to make one’s mind better at memorization and thinking. I highly recommend the interview since it is very insightful. If you don’t have the time to watch the video, I will outline the major points they bring up in the video.

You can train yourself to do unbelievable feats.The memory champions in memory competition are using their brains differently so you can learn what they are doing..

In Ancient times like in Greece, there were many well known memory techniques and tools for the scholar. We have totally forgotten about these techniques.

Major Technique #1: Creating a memory palace – Most people have terrific spatial memory. If we can use that spatial memory to remember stuff that we actually want to remember, it gives you an extraordinary advantage. The memory palace is an imaginary building in your mind’s eye that you are intimately familiar with. You walk through it in your imagination creating images of the stuff that you wish to remember.

By putting imagery in a specific location in the memory palace, you are attaching it in an order, in a spatial arrangement,

Idea: If you can create images that are so weird, so bizzarre, so strange, gory, raunchy, etc. something that is so emotionally resonant, where you use all of your senses to embrace the image, that will be a memory you will not be able to shake away from your memory.

  • Interesting fact #1: The term “In the first place” actually is referring to the “First Place” in your memory palace.
  • Interesting fact #2: The word “Topic” comes from the Greek word “Topos” which means “place”.

Idea: The things that we remember are the things that are …

  • 1. NEW,
  • 2. STRANGE,
  • 3. UNUSUAL,
  • 4. THINGS THAT MAKE AN IMPRESSION ON US,
  • 5. THINGS THAT GRAB OUR ATTENTION

We can will our brains to remember.

Idea: We can change our brain through memory. Remembering a lot like cab drivers enlarges the hippocampus which is what controls spatial memory.

Our working memory capacity has a clear limit. We can only hold roughly 7 things in our head at one time. The idea and key is then to see how we can package and put as much stuff in those 7 parts as possible.

Chunking – The process of packaging large sets of data and information into smaller parts to make it easier to recall.

Baker-Baker Paradox (from psychology): A person who is asked to remember a guy’s name is Baker is less likely to remember than a guy who is asked to remember that a guy’s profession is a baker. 

The name “Baker” does not mean anything. It is not associated or attached to anything in our memory as a hook. The word Baker however does have something we can associate with. There is a whole network of meaning that the word “baker” is attached with it.

The entire trick to remembering other people’s names is to take their names, turn it into something that they can associate with, in a visual way that would give it more meaning.

Most of the memory techniques uses a concept from psychology called elaborative encoding – You take information and make it memorable by embedding it in other information we already know.

William James – “We structure our experience of time around chronological landmarks” – Exciting things that happen in our life helps shape the passage of time. As we grow older, our lives get less interesting. We are doing less new stuff everyday. Things start to become routine. They become rote….And as a result, time starts to feel like it is flying by….So, literally our life is becoming less memorable.”

Solution: To live a life that is memorable. To do things that are new, different, exotic.

Case with EP (patient): Struck with viral disease that ate away a significant part of his brain, the hippocampus. Lead to him being fully functional except not remembering short term memory and long term memory up to a certain point. Does not even realize that he even has a memory problem. Is content and happy because he can’t remember the past and does not worry about the future.

Memory is very costly due to energy consumption: Brain uses up to around 20% of all the Oxygen and 25% of the glucose that is available in the body. We need memory to shape our perceptions of the present, our ability to make sense of the present, to plan for the future.

Our identity can be defined as our memories. EP could be considered to be an empty vessel and incapable of telling you anything about time.

Thinking is not so much about remembering, but actually about forgetting – processing what things do they not need to remember.

Even at elite memorizing level, everyone has a weakness. Conversely, almost everyone has a great memory for something. Thus, the things that we are fascinated with and become experts in, we develop an extraordinary memory for the details of that field of study.

With great expertise comes memory. People are structuring memory differently. Theya re seeing the world differently. and as a result are remembering better.

True knewledge is having an understanding of the world, make sense of it, find meaning in its structure.

We are probably all better off not having to remember numbers and facts which we can find easily through books and google.

The Latin word inventio is the source or root word for two modern words, invention and inventory.

We should be teaching kids better how their memories work. If you teach kids how to think about thinking, they think better. The principles behind the memory devices and techniques like the memry palace are crucial in helping us do well in the world.

The best way to learn something is to space out the information over time. When we start learning, we will start forgetting.

The single best piece of advice for a person who just wants to improve their memory: The art of remembering is the art of paying attention. To be mindful..

The difference between natural memory and artificial memory – natural memory is what we are born with in terms of raw talent, artificial memory is what we can develop through learning and using structuring for information processing.

Grit and tenaciousness is very good at creating success

The YouTube link where the source is found is HERE


One thought on “Mind Hack XV: Cool Techniques And Rules Of Thumb Tips To Increase Your Cognitive Ability And Memory From Joshua Foer

  1. Pingback: Mind Hacks List - |

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *