September 17, 2011

Smell, Taste, Feel, and Sound

Don't forget!
Today marks the final Daily Mind Game for the Week of Memory.  But let's not forget all the cool ways to carve new memories into our brains.  So far, we've discussed the value of spatial context in creating memorability.  We also talked about crafting faux novelty to make dull concepts interesting.  Next, we used linguistic hooks to embed names into consciousness. Finally, we constructed detailed mental models and looked at pictures (instead of reading) to play to our brains' natural talents.  Today, we're going to move beyond the visual and linguistic world and incorporate the other senses into our quest for iron memories.

When we were first constructing our childhood home/memory palace, I encouraged us to fold in details beyond the visual in order to enhance the memorability of the scene.  Textures, smells, sounds and more are all useful in maximizing the detail and giving our brain more links back to new memories.  But, that was just a side note.  Today, we're going to attack these "other" senses head-on to really push our mnemonic ninja-skillz to the next level.

Think for a moment: do you have a memory of eating or drinking something that didn't agree with you?  Perhaps you became sick...  How does the thought of the offending dish make you feel today?  Personally, I have a very bad feeling about Applebee's to this day because of a bad interaction with a Linguine dish :(  These food-aversions are a particularly salient example showing just how memorable feelings, smells, tastes, and more can be.  When we get sick, all of the details pile up to create one of the strongest memories possible.

Smell, Taste, Feel, and Sound

Task: Improve memorability of a new concept by associating non-visual details.

Info: Today, when you run into a new concept to learn, combine previous tricks with additional no-visual details.  Imagine each component of the process having some feel, texture, smell and sound.  Let's say I'm trying to memorize details about molecular and cellular biology.  Perhaps I could imagine the cell and interacting with each component.  The cell wall might feel and smell like butter.  The cytoplasm could feel and smell like salt water.  Other organelles might make weird sounds when they engage in various functions.  Again, the point of all this is construct a detailed world for a new concept.  The more details, the more likely a single concept will get embedded in the structure of our minds.

Goal: Use all five senses in creating a mental model of a new concept.

Imagining smells, sounds and textures can be difficult but, like anything, gets easier with practice.  Give it a try - these senses can be very powerful mnemonic cues!  Good luck.

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