This article is supported by curiosity stream, hey and welcome back to answers with Joe, where today we’re, going to talk about its roundness of my um memory. That thing I don’t know about you, but whenever I’m, introducing somebody to a group of friends, inevitably I will always forget someone’s name and not like some obscure person.
I barely know I’m talking about close friends and family everybody. This is Devon Devon. This is Sam Julia Jennifer, Chris John, please, don’t, take this person mom, and yet there are people in this world who are capable of amazing feats of memory like Alex Mullen the current number one memory athlete in the world.
You heard that right memory athlete they compete in the world memory championships it’s. The whole thing competitors of the world memory championship compete in ten different disciplines, each one of them challenging them to remember a certain number of things in a certain amount of time.
I’m just gon na list them all right here, because I can’t. Remember ten things that’s, where I’m coming from Alex Mullen, on the other hand, broke the world record by memorizing. Three thousand two hundred and thirty eight digits in one hour, just in case you’re, a visual person.
Like me, this is three thousand two hundred and thirty eight digits. I can’t. Remember my wife’s phone number. He also memorized the order of a full deck of playing cards in fifteen point six one seconds and he’s, not alone.
There are hundreds of competitive memory athletes around the world that are each capable of incredible feats like this. So is this a new race of mutant super villains on the rise around the world, or they just know something about memory that we don’t it’s, easy to wax philosophical about memory.
We are all living after all in a constant present. This continually stringing together memories from our past to create our conscious reality. In fact, armchair youtubers or one of the armchair youtubers have talked about this.
In other articles, you can check out here it’s. Me I’m talking about me now there’s, a reason why dementia and Alzheimer & # 39. S are such horrible diseases because they don’t. Just attack the body, they attack your very self and while there’s, no silver bullet to avoid dementia or Alzheimer’s.
The World Health Organization released a report in 2017 that dictated some best practices and things you can do to kind of help, stave off the worst of the cognitive decline and among some of the advice that you would expect like you know, eat well get exercise that Kind of thing they also suggested social interaction and cognitive exercises.
So there’s, that it also keeps you from getting in trouble. When you, you know, forget your wife’s phone number, so the prevailing theory is to how memory works is called dual process theory. Basically, there’s, two types of memory happening at the same time: system 1 and system 2 now system.
One is more automatic: it’s more unconscious as to the kind of regular actions and stuff that you do on a daily basis. You know how sometimes you drive home from work and when you get home, you realize that you don’t.
Remember anything about the drive home, that’s system 1. Taking the wheel system 2 deals with more conscious thought, provoking kind of things like when you sit down and actively try to study something that’s system 2 at work.
You know think about when you were young and somebody had to teach you how to shower yourself. You know you weren’t born with that information. You had to learn it. So I’m gon na teach you how to take a rag and put soap on it and to reach every part of your body and then rinse off.
It was a whole thing, but once you’ve done it a few thousand times and you get a little bit older, it becomes something very routine. You don’t have to think about it and it frees up your mind to think of all kinds of other random stuff.
Now what’s important to remember is that you can’t do one without the other. You know you can’t, do that higher level system to thinking without that foundational unconscious system, one stuff happening and in both of those systems there are different processes that deal with encoding, storage and retrieval, in other words, getting the information in holding that Information and then getting that information out, so the encoding process deals with one or more of four different methods: visual encoding or how something looks, acoustic, encoding or a house sounds semantics encoding or what something means and tactile encoding how something feels.
In other words, we remember it buyer senses and the stronger association with that sense, the more we remember it now when you get into storage there’s, two different types of storage, short term and long term memory.
Your brain kind of puts everything in short-term memory and then decides what’s important enough to put in a long-term memory afterwards. So the short-term memory is almost like a filter that all the information goes through, allowing only the most important stuff to go down into the long-term memory.
Short-Term memory only lasts between 15 and 30 seconds, and it only allows for about five to nine pieces of information with seven being about the average. Now long-term memory, on the other hand, has immense storage potential.
In fact, some people think it’s. Unlimited, like you, can’t even calculate how much it can hold and it can store information there indefinitely in long-term storage is mostly semantic encoding over sensory encoding.
I mean, yes, you can remember certain auditory and visual cues, but for the most part it remembers, the meaning of the thing more than the experience itself. Like you, don’t need to remember the exact feeling that you got when you touched your hand to a hot stove.
You just need to remember. You know. Don’t do that and when it comes to retrieving this information, short-term and long-term memory work differently as well. In short-term memory, information is pulled out, basically in the order that it went in it’s more of a sequential process, whereas long-term memory works mostly on Association, like remembering where you parked your car, because you walk past a blue barrel on the way Out so most of these memory hacks they serve to heighten those associations by taking something that you want to remember and associating it with something that already takes up some mental real estate and the more visual or emotional of those associations.
The better which, by the way, is the reason why a lot of people with synesthesia actually have really great memories, because they associate numbers and words with different colors and emotions and stuff.
So it’s, a lot easier for them to access. So how do we hack that? Well, let’s just start with something really simple like say: a grocery list. What you need to do is take each item and combine it in some interesting way with the next item.
Alright, so the first thing on this list is eggs. Combine that with the second thing on the list, which is milk, so you can imagine cracking open an egg and milk comes out that’s kind of weird and gross.
So let’s. Go with that. So the third thing on the list is flour. How do you combine milk and flour? Well, you can imagine, maybe pouring milk out of a bag of flour, maybe something grosser than that, something like a farmer milking a cow and just dust coming out.
Let’s. Go with that one all right! So next we need to combine flour and frozen pizza. You can imagine a bag of flour with marinara sauce all over it, and then you go from frozen pizza to celery. Maybe imagine a pizza with a celery crust.
The next one is an onion. Imagine maybe a baseball bat made out of celery hitting an onion baseball from there. You want to go to bread. Imagine a piece of bread that’s like folded up like an onion. You peel off the bread that way and then next you have ice cream and maybe you can imagine a grilled cheese sandwich with ice cream on top that’s, pretty gross all right.
So, with those weird images in mind, you got egg milk flour, Pizza, celery, onion, bread and ice cream, and the thing about this it’s. Crazy is you can actually go backwards with it just as easily, so you got ice cream, bread, onion, celery pizza, flour and then milk in the next C.
Now what comes to a lot of these combinations for most people, the weirder, the better? You know if it’s, an image that you’ve, seen before it’s, not gon na stand out in your mind as strongly as something that you would never see in real life, but it’s.
Not just about being weird, it’s about engaging the emotions and when you have something weird and shocking, it can kind of bring up emotions of shock value. But if you have something that ties into a nostalgic thing from your childhood, that can work just as well, that’s, a good way to remember actual objects on a grocery list or something like that.
But what about something? A little bit more conceptual like numbers: how can memory champions memorize, PI to literally thousands of places? You know numbers aren’t eggs numbers aren’t celery, they aren’t, you know ice cream or are they memorizing long streams of numbers works exactly the same as memorizing anything else.
All you have to do is associate the number zero through nine, with an actual object. Now it could be something that looks like the object like I showed a second ago, but any association that makes sense in your mind, works like the number.
One could be a pencil because it looks like the number one or you could say that it’s number two, because when you were a kid to take tests with number-two pencils, there are no rules here, but once you make those associations in your Mind once you memorize those 10 objects, then connecting series of numbers is just the same as doing what I just did with a grocery list.
So the only thing you really have to memorize is the 10 things that associate with those numbers but hey. Why stop? At 10, if you can associate 52 different objects to things and you can memorize an entire deck of playing cards, that’s, exactly how memory champions do it? They associate each card with a different object, and then they smush them together in interesting ways.
Actually, memory champions go way beyond that they memorize associations between the number 0 and 99, so say a 10 digit string of numbers. All they have to remember is 5 different objects and smush them together.
But the big-daddy memory trick that’s, employed by pretty much every memory, competitor in the world and everybody in the world who’s serious about memory is called the memory palace and it works like this pick a building, preferably a building.
You’re insanely, familiar with like your own home or home. You grew up in or a place of work anyway, a place that you know every square inch of, and then you can just picture in your mind, walking in the front door.
Turning into the dining room passing through into the kitchen off into the living room and so on, this is your memory palace and in this place you sprinkle in these little associations, these little objects and visuals throughout the house and then, as you walk through that house, The whole thing comes to light: let’s, say you walk in the front door and look to your left and you see an Impala which represents the number 64, because your favorite rap song talks about a 6-4 Impala and that Impala is dancing with A gorilla because the movie King Kong came out in 33 and then they danced into a juggler, which is the number 81, because it makes you kind of know what kind of looks like a guy juggling rings from the side.
And the juggler is your dad. Who was born in 1957 and it knocks them over into a waterslide just like the one. You broke your arm on in 1995. Congratulations! You just memorize the number six billion four hundred and thirty three million eight hundred fifteen thousand seven hundred and ninety-five, and you’re, only a few steps from your front door and you can continue this method all through your house and when you get Done with your house, you can go out in the backyard: go around your backyard.
Go down the alley. Go down. The street go hang out at the park down the street anywhere. Your imagination can take you. You are basically just encoding information into a story and professional memory.
Athletes are so good at this. They act kind of fall in love with their stories and they kind of revisit them in their head like a vacation or a trip. Anyone stuck – I’m – really trying hard not to wax too philosophical about this, because I’m a bit of a storyteller myself, but it just blows me away how we are so wired for story that by manipulating that we can literally Remember digits thousands long and also the power of the imagination.
You know we think of memory is a very mechanical thing, something you kind of have to like pound the memories into your brain, but it’s. Actually, the creative side, the quote right side of your brain that actually encodes this stuff in a way that’s meaningful and easy to retrieve, and there are countless other ways to use similar techniques to these.
To remember names to remember, study facts. That kind of thing I’ll, put links to it all down in the description below before I wrap up. Here, though, I feel like there’s, a bigger question. We kind of need to ask which is: do we really even need memory anymore? I mean we carry these little black mirrors with us everywhere we go, they have every single phone number we could ever want to know they have every single address.
We would ever need to get to in directions on how to get there and then, ultimately, every piece of knowledge ever collected by humanity. Could you argue that by sort of outsourcing this hard memory stuff, it kind of frees up our minds to work on bigger picture problems or does creativity and innovation require us to connect different disparate pieces of knowledge and information? And without that easy recall of that knowledge of information, it actually stymies creativity and innovation.
I personally feel like the second one is more likely I can’t. Tell you how many times when researching a article, some piece of information from a previous article, that I worked on pops up into my head and suddenly this thing makes more sense, and I have this aha moment and it all kind of comes together.
And I wouldn’t, be able to do that if I didn’t have that stored up here somewhere now some memory experts are kind of hammering that point home and saying that in this day of smartphones and computers, it’s more important than ever before for us to work and train our memories.
Of course, someday we may have the ability to automatically tap into the internet and collect any piece of information. We want and write it down and a sort of a mental google spreadsheet, but until then you have your palace have fun filling it with weirdness.
This is one of those topics that the more I looked into it, the more I researched it, the more fascinating it became to me, because memory is just so weird and it doesn’t act. The way that we think it acts it doesn’t behave like a tape, recorder or any thing, but if you want to go further with this, I can recommend the show tricky memory on curiosity stream.
This kind of looks at the other side of memory, the side that can get you in trouble, because our memories are far from secure. You know recorded experiences like articletape, it’s more like Wikipedia, and you can go in and change them in many different ways.
So this documentary covers things like false memories, implanted memories and how the whole thing is kind of insidious, because we feel like these alter. Memories are the truth. This is, of course, just one of hundreds of top quality science and history documentaries from curiosity stream, which I basically consider to be the Netflix of science shows it will keep you entertained and thinking for hours and even better.
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