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Memory Is Not Fixed

Memory, and indeed most intellectual skill, is not fixed. Anyone, by using the right techniques and practising, can expand their mnemonic capacity beyond what many people would even think possible—an excellent party trick, or simple a useful tool to remember phone and credit card numbers.

Practise even more, and you might even be able to compete against others at national or world championships.

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Chunking simply means dividing one string of information into several.

The cognitive stage: The skill is performed consciously and manually. This is when the brain is developing new strategies to do it more effectively. At this stage, there is improvement in fits and starts because the brain is monitoring performance and removing errors.

We didn’t always have the attention span of a goldfish, but today it sure seems that way.

Anything that was written before 200 BC had no punctuation, all texts were basically just word strings. If you didn’t already know what you were reading, reading was useless.

However, just because our memory sucks now doesn’t mean we can’t improve it. We know that the average number of list items we can store in our short-term memory is seven, though that can be increased with practice.

The memory palace is a technique where you walk along a route you know really well, and put memories in certain locations along the way.

Before the invention of writing or electronics, people used to keep palaces devoted to memory. Not physical palaces, but mental ones!

The major system allows you to convert numbers into sounds and thus words, thereby making them memorable. Each number keys to a certain kind of consonant, and vowels and some other sounds are unassigned. 1 is T or D. 2 is N.

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