Some of us will always feel like we belong to the group of “golden fish brains” — when from the small things in life to important jobs, we are very forgetful. So how can memory be improved?
Nelson Dellis — who can remember pi to 10,000 digits and four-time USA Memory Champion, has revealed five steps to hack brain and improve your memory — showing that anyone can memorize anything by practicing following steps.
Hack Brain: Memorize Anything
1. The images affect the senses
Assuming you need to memorize the 7 wonders of the world, what would you do?
To be able to do this, Dellis recommends using simple, easy-to-remember images instead. For the Great Wall, you might think of a wall. As for Petra, you can replace it with your pet’s image.
Home science psychologist Julia Shaw at the University College London says “Using juicy mental images like these is extremely effective. What you want to do is create big, multisensory memories.” You will want to aim for images that you can feel, smell, and see — to make them as real as possible.
The scientists explain that when they look at the brain, they see the amygdala — an important part of the brain in the process of emotional formation, stimulating other parts to remember the problem. That is why things that have a strong emotional impact will be remembered for longer.
2. Place those images in certain places
Next step you need to place those images in familiar locations.
The method of linking places with images is called the palace of memory, which is very useful for remembering the order of certain elements. It will take advantage of existing places in your memory, which could be anywhere you feel familiar.
In Dellis’ example, he would place each wonder in every aisle and a statue of Christ would represent Christ the Redeemer. But for 10,000 digits of pi, you will expand across the area where you live. He divided 10,000 numbers into 2,000 groups of 5 numbers each and placed them in 10 different towns.
The Neuroimaging study shows that the human brain will become more active in the occipital region as they learn to memorize from this memory palace method. That way, it will bring in more parts of the memory that are involved in the memory process, such as the parietal lobes will be responsible for navigation, and the occipital lobe will focus on the visual part.
3. Be focused
In fact, memorizing the 7 wonders of the world is not that difficult, but to memorize 10,000 numbers in pi takes a bit of motivation. Dellis says he always told himself, “I want to keep this in mind. I want to keep this in mind.” It sounds simple, but it will help us focus more on what we are doing and remember better.
4. Divide into small sections
As for remembering the sequence of pi, Dellis has turned each group of 5 numbers into images he can easily remember. The first 5 digits after the comma will be represented by the image of Sam Neill in the Iron Man suit and the next 5 numbers by his friend dressing up as the emperor in Gladiator.
He thinks that when we mention a word, we will associate the images in our heads faster than numbers and cards. For those who learn this way, when they see any name, number or tag, they already have the images in mind.
5. Practice, practice, and practice
Once you have the avatar and memory palace created, all you need to do is make sure it stays in your mind. However, most of those memories won’t be in long-term memory, so you’ll also need to repeat them every day to move them from short-term to long-term.
And of course, this is not easy, and there is no tip. As Dellis said, to be able to succeed, he also practiced diligently and instinctively turned it into something. Everything comes from hard work.