28.08.2018 |

Episode #10 of the course How to improve your memory by David Urbansky


Welcome to the last episode of this memory course. Over the last several days, you have gotten to know your memory better. We have talked about why memory is important, how you can treat your brain well with good food, exercise, and meditation, and of course, we have learned a variety of simple yet effective memorization techniques. Congratulations on making the effort!

If you enjoyed this course, it does not have to end here. There are many more techniques and skills to learn. Plus, everyone is unique and responds to different methods. There is no right way, so experiment and find your path to your best memory.


Amazing Memory Feats

To give you an idea what the human mind is capable of, I have compiled a set of impressive achievements by “memory athletes.”

• Suresh Kumar Sharma from India has memorized a staggering 70,030 digits of the number pi! It took him over 17 hours to recite them [1]. While this is quite an achievement, I admire the jury even more for listening.

• Zou Lujian from China set the world record for remembering an entire deck of playing cards in just under 14 seconds! The challenge is to memorize the value (e.g., 7 or King) and the suit (e.g., hearts or spades) in the order of a randomly shuffled deck. To earn the title “Grand Master of Memory,” you only need to accomplish the same feat in two minutes. The record for the most decks of playing cards memorized is held by Canadian David Farrow, who managed to remember 59 decks of cards (for a total of 3,068 cards). This record is over a decade old—time to break it!

• Want to ditch your dictionary? Dr. Yip Swee Chooi memorized the entire Oxford Chinese-English dictionary with 1,774 pages and 56,000 words [2]. Give him any word, and he can tell you not only what it means in both languages but also on which page it is found, its position on that page, and which words come before and after.

Yes, you do have to train hard to reach this level, but an amazing memory is not a gift you have to be born with. An inspiring read that proves this point is Moonwalking with Einstein by journalist Joshua Foer. Foer actually won the USA Memory Championship after only a single year of training and without any prior experience with memorization techniques.


Where to Go from Here

Use your memory on a daily basis. Over time, your memory will get better and better. Here’s a recap of “quick wins” that you can add to your already busy life:

• Get your heart rate up for a few minutes every day; a 20-minute brisk walk will do.

• When stuck in traffic, remember the numbers on the license plate in front of you using the number-shape or number-sound method.

• Get enough uninterrupted sleep.

• Going shopping? Write a shopping list, but try to remember the items using the body part or journey method. Put the list in your pocket and shop from memory. At the end, you can double check that you got everything so you won’t get in trouble at home for forgetting the yogurt.

• Make sure you eat enough memory-supporting foods, such as a daily handful of walnuts or glass of cherry juice.

• Keep learning new things, tools such as mempal can help you add knowledge continuously.

• Make memories! Did you know that time is perceived to pass more slowly if you make more memories? This is because memorable events in your life break up the weeks, months, and years that could otherwise run together. The reason time is often said to go by faster in old age is because older people (think retirees and empty nesters) are more likely to experience a continuous cycle of the same events with nothing new or memorable happening [3]. But it doesn’t have to be that way! Whatever age you are, try new things, learn new things, and make new memories.

I really hope you enjoyed this course and learned something useful. How much of the course you remember, you’ll have to prove in the test. Don’t let me down! ;)



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Recommended book

Why Life Speeds Up as You Get Older: How Memory Shapes Our Past by Douwe Draaisma



[1] Pi World Ranking List

[2] The man who learned the dictionary (video)

[3] Joshua Foer: Feats of memory anyone can do (video)


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