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Original Use of Mnemonics

“The techniques existed not just to memorize useless information like decks of playing cards, but also to etch into the brain foundational texts and ideas.


Brains of Mental Athletes

engaging several regions of the brain known to be involved in two specific tasks: visual memory and spatial navigation, including the same right posterior hippocampal region that the London cabbies had enlarged with all their daily way-finding.”

“consciously converting the information they were being asked to memorize into images, and distributing those images along familiar spatial journeys. ”


Experts vs Nonexperts

Experts see the world differently. They notice things that nonexperts don’t see. They home in on the information that matters most, and have an almost automatic sense of what to do with it. And most important, experts process the enormous amounts of information flowing through their senses in more sophisticated ways. They can overcome one of the brain’s most fundamental constraints: the magical number seven.


Memory as Expertise

“ He argued that expertise in “the field of shoemaking, painting, building, [or] confectionary” is the result of the same accumulation of “experiential linkings.” According to Ericsson, what we call expertise is really just “vast amounts of knowledge, pattern-based retrieval, and planning mechanisms acquired over many years of experience in the associated domain.” In other words, a great memory isn’t just a by-product of expertise; it is the essence of expertise.”


Memory as Experience of life

“Just as we accumulate memories of facts by integrating them into a network, we accumulate life experiences by integrating them into a web of other chronological memories. The denser the web, the denser the experience of time.


As memories are activated again

as memories age, their complexion changes. Each time we think about a memory, we integrate it more deeply into our web of other memories, and therefore make it more stable and less likely to be dislodged.”


Basic Principle of Memory Techniques

change whatever boring thing is being inputted into your memory into something that is so colorful, so exciting, and so different from anything you’ve seen before that you can’t possibly forget it,”


Ancient Esteem of Memory

“A strong memory was seen as the greatest virtue since it represented the internalization of a universe of external knowledge. ”


Inanimate vs Animate

Animate Objects tend to be more memorable than inanimate


Deep Processing of a Memory

“It’s important that you deeply process that image, so you give it as much attention as possible,” Ed continued. “Things that grab our attention are more memorable, and attention is not something you can simply will. It has to be pulled in by the details. By laying down elaborate, engaging, vivid images in your mind, it more or less guarantees that your brain is going to end up storing a robust, dependable memory.”


Why it's better to get vulgar and outrageous

When we see in everyday life things that are petty, ordinary, and banal, we generally fail to remember them, because the mind is not being stirred by anything novel or marvelous. But if we see or hear something exceptionally base, dishonorable, extraordinary, great, unbelievable, or laughable, that we are likely to remember for a long time.”


Building A stockpile of Palaces

“My first assignment was to begin collecting architecture. Before I could embark on any serious degree of memory training, I first needed a stockpile of memory palaces at my disposal. ”

The goal was to know these places so thoroughly to have such a rich and textured set of associations with every corner of every room, that i could speed through the places scattering images as quickly as i could sketch them in. The better i knew the buildings the easier it would be to reconstruct them.


How to picture Memories

The author instructs his readers to create images of “exceptional beauty or singular ugliness,” to put them into motion, and to ornament them in ways that render them more distinct. One could “disfigure them, as by introducing one stained with blood or soiled with mud or smeared with red paint,” or else proceed by “assigning certain comic effects to our images.”


Some keys to Easy Memorization

Words that rhyme are much more memorable than words that don’t; concrete nouns are easier to remember than abstract nouns; dynamic images are more memorable than static images; alliteration aids memory. A striped skunk making a slam dunk is a stickier thought than a patterned mustelid engaging in athletic activity.


Brains as Pattern Seeking Machines

Finding patterns and structure in information is how our brains extract meaning from the world. Song is the ultimate structuring device for language.


Three Stages in Learning a Skill

During the first phase, known as the “cognitive stage,” you’re intellectualizing the task and discovering new strategies to accomplish it more proficiently. During the second “associative stage,” you’re concentrating less, making fewer major errors, and generally becoming more efficient. Finally you reach what Fitts called the “autonomous stage,” when you figure that you’ve gotten as good as you need to get at the task and you’re basically running on autopilot.”


Tricks to Stay in the Cognitive Phase

They develop strategies for consciously keeping out of the autonomous stage while they practice by doing three things: focusing on their technique, staying goal-oriented, and getting constant and immediate feedback on their performance. In other words, they force themselves to stay in the “cognitive phase.”

“Amateur musicians, for example, are more likely to spend their practice time playing music, whereas pros are more likely to work through tedious exercises or focus on specific, difficult parts of pieces. The best ice skaters spend more of their practice time trying jumps that they land less often, while lesser skaters work more on jumps they’ve already mastered. Deliberate practice, by its nature, must be hard.”


To Avoid the OK Plateau

Best way to come out of the ok plateau is to practice failing. Put yourself in the mind of someone far more competent at the task you are trying master and work through how that person works through problems.
When you ant to get good at something, how you spend your time practicing is far more important than the amount of time you spend. To improve we must watch ourselves fail and learn from our mistakes.


Mastery Examples

The best chess players follow a similar strategy. They will often spend several hours a day replaying the games of grand masters one move at a time, trying to understand the expert’s thinking at each step. Indeed, the single best predictor of an individual’s chess skill is not the amount of chess he’s played against opponents, but rather the amount of time he’s spent sitting alone working through old games.

“The secret to improving at a skill is to retain some degree of conscious control over it while practicing—to force oneself to stay out of autopilot. ”


How to Speed Up Skill

“He told me to find a metronome and to try to memorize a card every time it clicked. Once I figured out my limits, he instructed me to set the metronome 10 to 20 percent faster than that and keep trying at the quicker pace until I stopped making mistakes. Whenever I came across a card that was particularly troublesome, I was supposed to make a note of it, and see if I could figure out why it was giving me problems. It worked, and within a couple days I was off the OK plateau and my card times began falling at a steady clip.


Memory as knowledge

“the whole usefulness of education consists only in the memory of it,”

“ou can’t have higher-level learning—you can’t analyze—without retrieving information.” And you can’t retrieve information without putting the information in there in the first place. The dichotomy between “learning” and “memorizing” is false, Matthews contends. You can’t learn without memorizing, and if done right, you can’t memorize without learning.”


Memory as Creativity

Where do new ideas come from if not some alchemical blending of old ideas? In order to invent, one first needed a proper inventory, a bank of existing ideas to draw on. Not just an inventory, but an indexed inventory. ”