Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Magic Memorisation

Memorisation is a difficult thing, espceially when the items to be memorized are abstract, like a list of numbers or playing cards1. These are not things we find easy to relate to and are not very distinctive, however, we have a great memory for stories and for the world around us. For example, we can remember all of the destinctive landmarks and features on our journey home, but are unable to remember someone telephone number. But by linking the number, by making each number a distinct image, we can then build a memory palace by playing each object in order along the route and just go over it in our mind and recite the number back2. The trickiest part of this method is establishing a set of visual images that work for you and are strange and outragious enough to remember. Another way to do this is just make each image very distinctive and then link them together with the next image in the sequence, known as the mnemonic liking system3. Here is an example of one way to do it4

So to memories the phone number 0831577910 you could make up a story like.... 'floating around in outer space, a special race takes place, the octopus is standing on a stool, since he came 1st and was awarded a gold medal, the 7 dwarves came both second and 3rd, the cat also took part, but lost interest and instead went bowling.' it works on a very visual part of our memory which we find easier to recall than thinking of the numbers themselves. while we often use rote learning for things like telephone numbers, it takes a great deal of time to learn them and we only tend to remember a few that are most used. However, something like rote learning cannot be used to memorise something like the order of a pack of cards, simply because our short term memorie can only cope with around 7 items1, and this is trickier when it comes to cards, because its hard to visulise each one indervidualy and keep them distinct. Using the mnemonic liking system and each card has a distinct image and a story can be created. 

However, if you are more of a people person and interested in celebraties, then maybe the alternative system might work better for you5. This system, you take the card number and transform it into a letter of the alphabet (mostly in alphabetic order with a few exceptions) and then take the first letter of the suit. This would form the initials of a famous person. Then all you would need to do is remember that person and then use this to remember the card.

So, for the 7 of Clubs, it would be G.C, George Cloony. 8 of Spades, H.S, Homer Simpson. Maybe this could be George Cloony talking to Homer Simpson at a party or just watching the simpsons. Easy.