Tag Archives: Memory improvement

Meet world memory champion Jonas Von Essen

26 Sep

You can read an interview with him here.

“I think that aiming high and practicing above your comfort level is very important. If you aim low you will land low. If you go fast and forget a lot you will gradually adapt to the higher tempo and forget less and less. It made all the difference to me.”

Von Essen has also received some attention for his diet.

Spaced repetition at the Quantified Self

21 Sep

The most important technique for improving your learning and memory is spaced repetition. Here is a link to a series of videos about  spaced repetition at The Quantified Self.

A review of my memory improvement book!

16 Aug

I just came across this review of my book. Many thanks to The Art of Memory.

There is also a lengthy summary in the comments.

Brain training increases grey matter volume

15 Aug

On Friday, I reported on a meta-analysis that presented evidence that working memory brain training does not transfer to other cognitive skills. The most recent issue of Personality and Individual Differences carries a paper titled:  “Gray matter volumetric changes with a challenging adaptive cognitive training program based on the dual n-back task.” The n-back task is the most widely used procedure for working memory training in academic research.

Surprisingly, these results do not, necessarily, contradict each other. As noted in the abstract:

“Changes in the gray matter volume of these clusters were correlated with a) behavioral changes across the training program and b) changes in four psychological factors assessed before and after training (fluid and crystallized intelligence, working memory capacity, and attention control). None of these correlations were statistically significant, and therefore, psychological and biological changes were seen as independent.”

Since there working memory training does improve performance on the trained task, we would expect there to be some kind of measurable physical change in the brain. But this does not mean that the training effects are transferable to other cognitive domains.

Eponyms as mnemonics

10 Aug

Did you know that Melba toast was named after Dame Nellie Melba of that the word “nicotine” honors Jean Nicot de Villemain? These examples are from Alex Novak’s book Tawdry Knickers and Other Unfortunate Ways to Be Remembered: A Saucy and Spirited History of Ninety Notorious Namesakes

Eponyms can be powerful mnemonics and you can find a long list of them here.

Dewey Decimal System Mnemonic

1 Aug

Here is a first letter mnemonic for the potentially useful task of learning the Dewey Decimal System:

Generally, philosophical religionists see language scientifically to favor literary history.

Category Catalog Number Mnemonic
General Works 0 Generally
Philosophy and psychology 100 philosophical
religion 200 religionists
Social Science 300 see
Language 400 language
Science 500 scientifically
Technology 600 to
Fine arts 700 favor
Literature 800 literary
History 900 history

Adapted from Evans (2007)

Can methylene blue improve memory?

1 Jul

Methylene blue is a chemical that has been used an antidote for cyanide poisoning. There have been suggestions over the years that it may have an effect on  memory. A paper titled “Multimodal Randomized Functional MR Imaging of the Effects of Methylene Blue in the Human Brain,” was recently published in the journal Radiology. Unfortunately, I have not been able to locate a copy of the original paper, so I am forced to rely on this account in ScienceDaily:

“A single oral dose of methylene blue results in an increased MRI-based response in brain areas that control short-term memory and attention, according to a new study. Methylene blue was associated with a 7 percent increase in correct responses during memory retrieval.”

Several media outlets report that methylene blue was shown to improve short term memory. This is one of the reasons I need to see the original paper. The phrase “short term memory” is used differently by psychologists than the general public. Indeed, many psychologists have abandoned the phrase altogether and, instead, talk about working-memory. When non-academics talk about short term memory they mean things like forgetting a phone number or someone’s name. In fact, most of these are failures of attention or long term memory, not problems with short term memory. Thus, I worry that reporting on this research may be very misleading.

%d bloggers like this: