September 13, 2011

Lewd, Crude, and Rude

Never forget.
Let's pick some random things to remember, ok? Some things that are totally unrelated to anything we have going on, but that aren't too interesting by themselves. Today, let's memorize the following items: a paperclip, a box of tissues, a glass of water, three red pens, a paper airplane, a baseball cap, a computer monitor, some high heels, a pack of diapers, and nail clippers. Got it? No? Let's fix that.

Yesterday, we created our first memory palace using our childhood home. The idea was to create a visual structure in our brain and then to exploit that structure to remember a bunch of random schtuff. Our brains are visuospatial machines, and will easily remember stuff if we create a vivid visual, spatial, and experiential image of the things to remember. Today, we're going to combine our memory palace with another memory trick in order to commit the list of objects above to memory. The other memory trick? Memorability.

Some things are just more memorable than others. This is particularly poignant days after September 11th here in the U.S. The emotional nature of the terrorist attacks 10 years ago, the extreme images, the fear, all resulted in rapid, vivid,and long lasting memories. Why? Because all of the neurochemical soup flooding around our brain in that moment was screaming: "important!" So, we remember.

Today, we're going to create faux memorability, in our memory palace, to remember less important things: the ten objects listed at the start of today's post.

Lewd, Crude, and Rude

Task: Memorize the ten objects listed above.

Info: To remember the objects, you will use the two memory tricks we've discussed this far: your memory palace and memorableness. Start walking through you childhood home recalling all the details along the way. Now, as you reach discrete spaces and places in your house, imagine the objects one by one being in different spaces. This is the function of your memory palace. But in addition, imagine a family member doing something strange, awkward, rude, crude, or lewd with each of the objects. Why? To make it memorable! For example, I'm imagining my brother piercing his own ears with a paper clip in my laundry room. I will never forget that image. You try it! Be as creative as possible.

Goal: Memorize all ten objects, in order, using your memory palace and memorableness.

How did it go?  Did it work? If it didn't you weren't being nasty enough!  Visualize your dog taking a poop in a baseball cap on your kitchen counter. A glass of water with an eyeball in it, in your refrigerator.  Really get into it. You'll remember, I promise!

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