Sunday, June 11, 2017

Remembering things using places

When I was applying for some insurance policy, I had to take a test to check my mind. Part of it was remembering 10 things. I did it successfully by placing each thing in a room in my house.

This technique is called "Method of Loci." This is sometimes called a "Mind Palace." Can you remember that? I may come in handy. Here's how it works.
Let's use a shopping list as an example. Instead of focusing on the word ‘rice,’ this technique works by focusing on the image of rice thrown on the ground in a yard. For eggs, picture a hen pecking at the rice, followed by a nearby tree of apple blossoms, the petals falling around the hen, falling on a sleeping dog. Once the interconnected scene is created it’s a simple visual to ease your way around the halls of the grocery store with no list needed.
As you're wandering the store pretending to be in your house interesting things can happen.
This technique is more formally called 'method of loci', and is believed to have been invented by the Greek poet Simonides of Ceos, who developed his muscular memory about 2,500 years ago, in really unfortunate circumstances. The roof of a banquet hall, full of people, collapsed and crushed many of them beyond recognition. Simonides had to recall where people had been sitting along the tables to confirm their deaths — hence, method of location.
That's just sad. This is interesting:
Training in method of loci can physically change the way a person remembers. The method connects brain regions, and according to lead author Martin Dresler, this includes “regions critical for visuospatial memory and navigation, such as retrosplenial and hippocampal areas.” By training in this way, the brain can shape new pathways of recall, so that the act of remembering has multiple, speedy avenues on which to travel. 
When I start using my retrosplenial I get a headache.

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