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Moonwalking with Einstein
Do you have a bad memory? For those of us who do, we tend to believe that we’ll be stuck with this limitation forever.
But the truth is, anyone can vastly improve their ability to remember even complex information. All it takes is learning a few simple yet remarkably effective techniques.
In this summary of Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer, In these book summary, you will learn
- how your memory works,
- why the art of memory has declined since ancient times and
- how you can store your memories in your childhood home.
Moonwalking with Einstein Key Idea #1: Our memory capacity is not fixed: we can train ourselves to remember more.
Have you ever met someone with a knack for remembering names or facts and thought: “Why can’t I do that?” Well, anyone can improve their memory.
All you need to do is learn how to use the capacity of your memory correctly – it’s far from being a talent that you either do or don’t have.
One way you can do this is by practicing the phonological loop method, where you repeat the things you need to remember to yourself.
This method was demonstrated in a classic experiment by psychologist K. A. Ericsson and his colleague Bill Chase, who presented an undergraduate known as SF with digits that he had to repeat back to them.
At first, SF could retain around seven items in his phonological loop, which is considered an average result.
However, after practicing this test for 250 hours, SF was able to expand his memory by a factor of 10.
Aside from the phonological loop method, you can also improve your memory in a particular field by becoming an expert in that area.
In the 1920s, scientists tested world-class chess players on their general cognitive abilities, such as memory.
They found that although expert players were far better at chess than average players, they did not perform significantly better on any of the general tests.
Later in the 1940s, however, a Dutch psychologist found that expert chess players do have a so-called “chess memory,” enabling them to see the chessboard differently than less experienced players.
That is, they focus on spots on the board that are the most relevant, and, rather than perceiving the board as 32 pieces, they see a few bigger pieces of the board.
Although their general memory remained the same, by becoming skilled at chess, their memory of the game developed massively.
Moonwalking with Einstein Key Idea #2: Changing the way you store information in your brain can enable you to remember more.
Are you good at remembering numbers? Could you recite the numbers 1224200001012001 after reading them just once? Probably not.
Most of us are only able to remember five to nine pieces of information at a time.
But what if you split these numbers into these dates: 12/24/2000 and 01/01/2001? The information stays the same, but suddenly it’s much easier to remember. This is known as chunking.
Chunking means combining information into bigger pieces that are easier to remember.
For instance, try to remember the 22 letters HEADSHOULDERSKNEESTOES. It becomes far easier if you try to remember it as HEAD, SHOULDERS, KNEES, TOES, as it turns 22 pieces of information into only four chunks.
Even better, if you know the children‘s song “Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes,” you can memorize the information as one single chunk.
Another way to improve memory capacity is by using elaborative encoding, which involves making information as vivid as possible.
As our brains developed throughout evolution, we did not need to remember abstract facts, but rather the information from our senses to help us.
Remembering things like the smell of plants that were poisonous or visual clues that showed us the way home was of primary importance to us.
So, we can take advantage of the way our brains are pre-programmed by employing our senses and imagining the things we want to remember as vividly as possible.
Let’s say you want to remember a shopping list of pickles, cottage cheese, and salmon.
To use elaborative encoding for your list, you could imagine a glass of pickles on your bedside table next to a tub of smelly cottage cheese in which a good-looking man or woman is bathing with a salmon. This way, you’re far more likely to remember the items!
Moonwalking with Einstein Key Idea #3: We remember things unconsciously.
Have you ever wondered what a life without memories would feel like?
Consider the famous case of an amnesiac known as EP, who became an amnesiac after a virus damaged the medial temporal lobes of his brain – a part that is vital for memory.
But even though EP isn’t able to learn new information to recall later, research shows that he can unconsciously.
Psychologist Larry Squire showed EP (along with other patients) a list of 24 words to memorize. Within a few minutes, EP could not recall any of the words. In fact, he even forgot the exercise happened at all.
EP then sat in front of a computer monitor where 48 words word were flashed on the screen for 25 milliseconds each, so the eye could catch some but not all of them.
Half the words were new and the other half were on the list EP had seen before. He was then asked to read the words aloud after they flashed on the screen.
Surprisingly, EP was a lot better at recalling the words he had seen previously on the list, even without consciously remembering them.
The words had left an impression on him without him noticing.
This ability to remember things consciously as well as unconsciously actually exists in all of us.
Think about swimming or riding a bike: we don’t consciously remember how to do these things as we do them, yet they’re stored in our unconscious memory.
Such memories are called nondeclarative memories, or memories that exist somewhere in our brains but we cannot recall them at will.
We also have declarative memories or memories that we have to actively think about and recall from our memory, like the color of our car.
To have a proper working memory, we need to be able to utilize both our nondeclarative and our declarative memories.
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Moonwalking with Einstein PDF Free Download