How to Train Your Memory Like a Memory Champion : Smart Memory Power

How to Train Your Memory Like a Memory Champion

I wanted to share this fantastic video with you, featuring the voice and knowledge of Dr Robert Winston as he explains how to train your memory like a memory athlete:

Before we talk about how to train your memory, let’s look at what happens when we commit something to memory.

It’s actually pretty simple. According to Dr. Robert Winston:

Memorising something is rather like what happens when we set up a line of dominos. When we commit a fact to memory, we create a neural pathway to it. A route of connecting brain cells to wherever that memory is stored in our brain. And, to retrieve those facts all we have to do is to trigger the same pathway back to them.

How to Train Your Memory

how to train your memory

Formerly the World Memory Champion (2002), Andi Bell has developed a special technique which allows him to remember literally thousands of items in rapid succession.

This technique is known as the Loci Method (from the Latin for ‘places’), and is a way of using memory ‘pegs’ to anchor memories to other, more familiar items.

You essentially train your memory to remember some ‘keys’ which you will in turn use to recall other facts or items. This is similar to the alphabet peg technique I looked at in my blog post ‘Memorization Techniques of the Memory Ninjas‘.

As Andi himself explains:

When I memorise a deck of cards, I turn each card into a picture and this is a colourful animal or object that I’ve learnt to associate with that particular card.

By associating something visual with the playing card, the memory is clearer in Andi’s mind. There’s also a key scientific reason why this method works.

This is known amongst psychologists as ‘elaborative encoding’, because you’re coding the memory in order that you can recall it effectively later on. It’s elaborative because you’re literally elaborating on the memory (by associating with more familiar things) in order to remember it.

Professor Winston explains what goes on in our heads when we use this technique to train our memories:

When we use a simple story to memorise facts, we’re creating several pathways to where those memories are formed in the brain. It’s as if, instead of lining up one set of dominos, we’re setting up several.

The reason we often have difficulties in retrieving a memory is because one neural pathway can easily get broken. But by having several different pathways to a memory it means that if one doesn’t manage to reach it, another one will. That’s the advantage of the story technique. It creates lots of neural pathways in our brain and all our brains can work in this way.

Which is way everyone can use this method. By using a story to memorise facts, we all have the potential to perform astonishing feats of memory.

I’m going to be writing more about this method in future, but for now, you may want to take a look at another excellent video featuring Joshua Foer, about a different version of the Loci method which dates back to Ancient Greece, known as The Memory Palace.

If you want to find out more about how to train your memory, check out the section on this blog called Memorization Techniques.

Have you used this method? Or do you use another? Let me know what (and how) you think in the comments section.

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Category: Memorization Techniques, Memory Exercises

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I'm James Gladwell, chief contributor and editor of I'm fascinated by the human mind and I set this site up in order to help people increase their memory power, while I learned how to improve mine. Feel free to leave a comment on the site and let me know how you think I can make the site better.

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  1. Visual Memory Strategies: The Journey Method : Smart Memory Power | 17 September, 2012

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