Moonwalking With Einstein
Moonwalking With Einstein

Moonwalking With Einstein

The techniques of the memory palace—also known as the journey method or the method of loci, (Location 162)

Tags: memory

Note: .memory

in the fifteenth century, Gutenberg came along and turned books into mass-produced commodities, and eventually it was no longer all that important to remember what the printed page could remember for you. (Location 173)

Note: It was no longer important to remember when print existed

If rote memorization is a way of scratching impressions onto our brains through the brute force of repetition—the old “drill and kill” method—then the art of memory is a more elegant way of remembering through technique. It is faster, less painful, and produces longer-lasting memories, Buzan told me. (Location 196)

Note: Rote memorisation is brute force learning

the elaborate system of externalized memory we’ve created is a way of fending off mortality. (Location 299)

Tags: memory

Note: .memory the creation of external memory is a way of fending off mortality

The nonlinear associative nature of our brains makes it impossible for us to consciously search our memories in an orderly way. A memory only pops directly into consciousness if it is cued by some other thought or perception—some other node in the nearly limitless interconnected web. So when a memory goes missing or a name gets caught on the tip of the tongue, hunting it down can be frustrating and often futile. We have to stumble in the dark with a flashlight for cues that might lead us back to the piece of information we’re looking for—Her name begins with an L … She’s a painter … I met her at that party a couple years ago—until one of those other memories calls to mind the one we’re looking for. Ah yes, her name was Lisa! Because our memories don’t follow any kind of linear logic, we can neither sequentially search them nor browse them. (Location 506)

Tags: brain, memory

Note: Our memories do not follow linear logic. They cant be browsed sequentially

S kept his memories rigidly organized by mapping them onto structures and places he already knew well. “When S read through a long series of words, each word would elicit a graphic image. And since the series was fairly long, he had to find some way of distributing these images of his in a mental row or sequence,” wrote Luria. “Most often … he would ‘distribute’ them along some roadway or street he visualized in his mind.” (Location 519)

Tags: memory

Note: Organise memories by mapping them to structures

In 2000, a neuroscientist at University College London named Eleanor Maguire wanted to find out what effect, if any, all that driving around the labyrinthine streets of London might have on the cabbies’ brains. When she brought sixteen taxi drivers into her lab and examined their brains in an MRI scanner, she found one surprising and important difference. The right posterior hippocampus, a part of the brain known to be involved in spatial navigation, was 7 percent larger than normal in the cabbies—a small but very significant difference. Maguire concluded that all of that way-finding around London had physically altered the gross structure of their brains. The more years a cabbie had been on the road, the more pronounced the effect. (Location 560)

Tags: brain

Note: Cab drivers brains had physically increased in size

technique he promised I could use to remember people’s names at parties and meetings. “The trick is actually deceptively simple,” he said. “It is always to associate the sound of a person’s name with something you can clearly imagine. It’s all about creating a vivid image in your mind that anchors your visual memory of the person’s face to a visual memory connected to the person’s name. (Location 647)

Tags: memory

Note: .memory

To understand why this sort of mnemonic trick works, you need to know something about a strange kind of forgetfulness that psychologists have dubbed the “Baker/baker paradox.” The paradox goes like this: A researcher shows two people the same photograph of a face and tells one of them that the guy is a baker and the other that his last name is Baker. A couple days later, the researcher shows the same two guys the same photograph and asks for the accompanying word. The person who was told the man’s profession is much more likely to remember it than the person who was given his surname. Why should that be? Same photograph. Same word. Different amount of remembering. (Location 654)

Tags: visualisation, memory

Note: .memory

Even if his short-term memory was limited, he’d figured out a way to store information directly in long-term memory. It involved a technique called chunking. Chunking is a way to decrease the number of items you have to remember by increasing the size of each item. Chunking is the reason that phone numbers are broken into two parts plus an area code and that credit card numbers are split into groups of four. And chunking is extremely relevant to the question of why experts so often have such exceptional memories. (Location 860)

Tags: memory

Note: Decrease the number of items you have to remember by increasing the size of them

According to Ericsson, what we call expertise is really just “vast amounts of knowledge, pattern-based retrieval, and planning mechanisms acquired over many years of experience in the associated domain.” In other words, a great memory isn’t just a by-product of expertise; it is the essence of expertise. (Location 941)

Tags: memories, experience

Note: .experience

Monotony collapses time; novelty unfolds it. You can exercise daily and eat healthily and live a long life, while experiencing a short one. If you spend your life sitting in a cubicle and passing papers, one day is bound to blend unmemorably into the next—and disappear. That’s why it’s important to change routines regularly, and take vacations to exotic locales, and have as many new experiences as possible that can serve to anchor our memories. Creating new memories stretches out psychological time, and lengthens our perception of our lives. (Location 1080)

Tags: memories, time

Note: Creating new memories stretches out psychological time

In one experiment, Squire gave EP a list of twenty-four words to memorize. As expected, within a few minutes, EP had no recollection of any of the words, or even that the exercise had happened at all. When asked whether he’d seen a given word before, he answered correctly only half the time. But then Squire sat EP in front of a computer monitor and gave him a different test. This time, forty-eight words were flashed on the screen for twenty-five milliseconds each, just long enough for the eye to catch some, but not all, of them (an eye blink, by comparison, happens in 100 to 150 milliseconds). Half the words were from the list that EP had read over and forgotten, and half were new. Squire asked EP to read each word after it flashed on the screen. Surprisingly, EP was far better at reading the words he’d seen before than the ones that were new. Even though he had no conscious recollection of them, somewhere in the recesses of his brain they had left an impression. This phenomenon of unconscious remembering, known as priming, is evidence of an entire shadowy underworld of memories lurking beneath the surface of our conscious reckoning. (Location 1125)

Tags: priming

Note: .priming unconscious remembering

Sigmund Freud first noted the curious fact that older memories are often remembered as if captured by a third person holding a camera, whereas more recent events tend to be remembered in the first person, as if through one’s own eyes. It’s as if things that happened to us become simply things that happened. Or as if, over time, the brain naturally turns episodes into facts. (Location 1157)

Note: Old memories are viewed through the 3rd person,newer memories are 1st person

The principle underlying all memory techniques is that our brains don’t remember all types of information equally well. As exceptional as we are at remembering visual imagery (think of the two-picture recognition test), we’re terrible at remembering other kinds of information, like lists of words or numbers. The point of memory techniques is to do what the synasthete S did instinctually: to take the kinds of memories our brains aren’t good at holding on to and transform them into the kinds of memories our brains were built for. (Location 1254)

Tags: memory failure

Note: Our brains are good at remebering images but not lists and numbers

“The general idea with most memory techniques is to change whatever boring thing is being inputted into your memory into something that is so colorful, so exciting, and so different from anything you’ve seen before that you can’t possibly forget it,” (Location 1258)

Tags: memory

Note: Colour and exciting images are easier to remember than the mundane

Just about anything that could be imagined, he reckoned, could be imprinted upon one’s memory, and kept in good order, simply by engaging one’s spatial memory in the act of remembering. (Location 1301)

Tags: memory

Note: .memory use spatial memory to remember better

natural memory is the hardware you’re born with. Artificial memory is the software you run on your hardware. Artificial memory, the anonymous author continues, has two basic components: images and places. Images represent the contents of what one wishes to remember. Places—or loci, as they’re called in the original Latin—are where those images are stored. (Location 1336)

Note: Rememember contents as images and places store the images

The idea is to create a space in the mind’s eye, a place that you know well and can easily visualize, and then populate that imagined place with images representing whatever you want to remember. Known as the “method of loci” by the Romans, such a building would later come to be called a “memory palace.” (Location 1339)

The principle of the memory palace, he continued, is to use one’s exquisite spatial memory to structure and store information whose order comes less naturally—in this case, Ed’s to-do list. (Location 1359)

Note: Memorypalace

The Ad Herennium advises readers at length about creating the images for one’s memory palace: the funnier, lewder, and more bizarre, the better. “When we see in everyday life things that are petty, ordinary, and banal, we generally fail to remember them, because the mind is not being stirred by anything novel or marvelous. But if we see or hear something exceptionally base, dishonorable, extraordinary, great, unbelievable, or laughable, that we are likely to remember for a long time.” (Location 1390)

Tags: memory

Note: We rememember bizarre images better

When forming images, it helps to have a dirty mind. Evolution has programmed our brains to find two things particularly interesting, and therefore memorable: jokes and sex—and especially, it seems, jokes about sex. (Location 1397)

Tags: memory

Note: We remember dirty images better

“Animate images tend to be more memorable than inanimate images.” (Location 1414)

normally memories are stored more or less at random in semantic networks, or webs of association. But you have now stored a large number of memories in a very controlled context. Because of the way spatial cognition works, all you have to do is retrace your steps through your memory palace, and hopefully at each point the images you laid down will pop back into your mind as you pass by them. All you’ll have to do is translate those images back into the things you were trying to learn in the first place.” (Location 1460)

Note: Normally memories are stored randomly, but by using spatial techniques you can store in an orderly manner

The ancient and medieval way of reading was totally different from how we read today. One didn’t just memorize texts; one ruminated on them—chewed them up and regurgitated them like cud—and in the process, became intimate with them in a way that made them one’s own. (Location 1526)

Tags: reading

Note: .reading

He explains that learning texts is worth doing not because it’s easy but because it’s hard. “I believe that they who wish to do easy things without trouble and toil must previously have been trained in more difficult things,” (Location 1549)

Note: You must be able to do hard things in order to be able to do easy things without trouble

World Memory Championship, was going to be held in Oxford, England, at the end of the summer. (Location 1572)

Tags: toexplore

Note: .toexplore

Bad luck does seem to stalk Ben. He’d had no intentions of being at the World Memory Championship. Instead, he had devoted the last six months to memorizing the first 50,000 digits of the mathematical constant pi, which he planned to recite at the Mind Sports Olympiad, a weeklong festival of board games to be held a week after the World Memory Championship. It would have been a new world record. But an obscure Japanese mnemonist named Akira Haraguchi had emerged from nowhere to memorize 83,431 digits just a month earlier. It took him sixteen hours and twenty-eight minutes to recite them. Ben read about the accomplishment on the Internet and was forced to reevaluate his plans. Instead of trying to learn another 33,432 digits, he gave up and rededicated himself to defending his title as world memory champion. He had spent virtually every free moment of the last six weeks cleaning out memory palaces that had been devoted to pi, undoing months of hard work so that he could reuse the palaces in the memory championships. (Location 1634)

Note: Wasted six months learning 50000 digits of pi

Oral poetry was not simply a way of telling lovely or important stories, or of flexing the imagination. It was, argues the classicist Eric Havelock, “a massive repository of useful knowledge, a sort of encyclopedia of ethics, politics, history, and technology which the effective citizen was required to learn as the core of his educational equipment.” The great oral works transmitted a shared cultural heritage, held in common not on bookshelves, but in brains. (Location 1741)

Though Gunther doesn’t use Metrodorus’s symbols, which unfortunately have been lost to history, he has created his own dictionary of images for each of the two hundred most common words that can’t easily be visualized. “And” is a circle (“and” rhymes with rund, which means round in German). “The” is someone walking on his knees (die, a German word for “the,” rhymes with Knie, the German word for “knee”). When the poem reaches a period, he hammers a nail into that locus. (Location 1835)

Note: Create a dictionary of images for 200 most common words which are tough to visualise

In Plato’s Phaedrus, Socrates describes how the Egyptian god Theuth, inventor of writing, came to Thamus, the king of Egypt, and offered to bestow his wonderful invention upon the Egyptian people. “Here is a branch of learning that will … improve their memories,” Theuth said to the Egyptian king. “My discovery provides a recipe for both memory and wisdom.” But Thamus was reluctant to accept the gift. “If men learn this, it will implant forgetfulness in their souls,” he told the god. “They will cease to exercise their memory and become forgetful; they will rely on that which is written, calling things to remembrance no longer from within themselves, but by means of external marks. What you have discovered is a recipe not for memory, but for reminding. And it is no true wisdom that you offer your disciples, but only its semblance, for by telling them of many things without teaching them anything, you will make them seem to know much, while for the most part they will know nothing. And as men filled not with wisdom but with the conceit of wisdom, they will be a burden to their fellow-men.” (Location 1911)

Note: Writing is an aid for reminding. They worried that if you required the aid of writing to recall wisdom then you arent wise

As books became easier and easier to consult, the imperative to hold their contents in memory became less and less relevant, and the very notion of what it meant to be erudite began to evolve from possessing information internally to knowing where to find information in the labyrinthine world of external memory (Location 2021)

Note: The index changed how we consult books. The need to memorise large amounts of information was replaced by the ability to retrieve information quickly from relevant books

trail of always present, ever searchable, unforgetting external memories that only grows as one ages. (Location 2175)

Note: Digital memory

Bell in his book Total Recall: How the E-Memory Revolution Will Change Everything. (Location 2181)

Tags: toread

Note: .toread

Remembering numbers proved to be one of the real world applications of the memory palace that I relied on almost every day. I used a technique known as the “Major System,” invented around 1648 by Johann Winkelmann, which is nothing more than a simple code to convert numbers into phonetic sounds. Those sounds can then be turned into words, which can in turn become images for a memory palace. (Location 2267)

Note: Convert numbers to sounds and sounds to images. Major system

When it comes to memorizing long strings of numbers, like a hundred thousand digits of pi or the career batting averages of every New York Yankee Hall of Famer, most mental athletes use a more complex technique that is known on the Worldwide Brain Club (the online forum for memory junkies, Rubik’s cubers, and mathletes) as “person-action-object,” or, simply, PAO. It traces its lineage directly back to the loopy combinatorial mnemonics of Giordano Bruno and Ramon Llull. In the PAO system, every two-digit number from 00 to 99 is represented by a single image of a person performing an action on an object. The number 34 might be Frank Sinatra (a person) crooning (an action) into a microphone (an object). Likewise, 13 might be David Beckham kicking a soccer ball. The number 79 could be Superman flying with a cape. Any six-digit number, like say 34-13-79, can then be turned into a single image by combining the person from the first number with the action from the second and the object from the third—in this case, it would be Frank Sinatra kicking a cape. (Location 2282)

Note: Person action object method used by mental athletes to remember long strings of numbers

Mental athletes memorize decks of playing cards in much the same way, using a PAO system in which each of the fifty-two cards is associated with its own person/action/object image. This allows any triplet of cards to be combined into a single image, and for a full deck to be condensed into just eighteen unique images (52 divided by 3 is 17, with one card left over). (Location 2304)

Deliberate practice, by its nature, must be hard. When you want to get good at something, how you spend your time practicing is far more important than the amount of time you spend. In fact, in every domain of expertise that’s been rigorously examined, from chess to violin to basketball, studies have found that the number of years one has been doing something correlates only weakly with level of performance. ... Regular practice simply isn’t enough. To improve, we must watch ourselves fail, and learn from our mistakes. (Location 2381)

Tags: practice

Note: Deliberate practice needs to be hard. Time spent practicing is less important than the nature of the practice

We usually think about our memory as a single, monolithic thing. It’s not. Memory is more like a collection of independent modules and systems, each relying on its own networks of neurons. Some people have good memories for numbers but are always forgetting words; some people remember names but not to-do lists. SF, Ericsson’s work-study undergraduate who expanded his digit span tenfold, had not increased some generalized memory capacity. (Location 2442)

Note: Our memory is a system of components

Ad Herennium. (Location 2824)

Tags: toread

Note: .toread

girls dig scars and glory lasts forever.” (Location 3347)

How we perceive the world and how we act in it are products of how and what we remember. We’re all just a bundle of habits shaped by our memories. And to the extent that we control our lives, we do so by gradually altering those habits, which is to say the networks of our memory. No lasting joke, invention, insight, or work of art was ever produced by an external memory. Not yet, at least. Our ability to find humor in the world, to make connections between previously unconnected notions, to create new ideas, to share in a common culture: All these essentially human acts depend on memory. (Location 3750)