How Your Imagination Can Improve Your Memory

Is your forgettory working better these days than your memory?

I often make that joke when I am teaching a class. I'll say something like, "If you encounter a good idea today, write it down. Remember: The faintest ink is better than the fondest memory."

I know I'm really talking about myself. If I say to myself, "I'll remember that," it's a sure thing I won't. So I'm disciplining myself to take better notes.

Recently my wife read a great book about memory called Moonwalking With Einstein by Joshua Foer. She so enjoyed it that she immediately applied one of the techniques, The Memory Palace, to memorizing all of the U.S. presidents in order from George Washington to Barack Obama. She then proceeded to amaze her family and friends with her ability to tick off all 44 of them.

This ancient technique, The Memory Palace, is intriguing, as it utilizes our human faculty of imagination to create a mental image of a house, room or other space where all the items on the list (e.g. presidents) are placed. For example, Washington is on the piano bench, Jefferson is at the table, Adams is on the sofa, etc.

Try it. You may astound yourself.

Posted by Terrence Seamon on Wednesday August 10, 2011.


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