Having a strong memory is something we would all love to have. If you think about it this could solve many of our problems. From passing the tests of the semester – for the young ones – to holding a good position in the company, memory is important. There are some effective, and others not so, methods to improve your memory. According to scientists, electricity is all over our bodies and our brains. Could we use it to improve our memory? An inappropriate way is to attach electrodes to your brain, aiming to enhance the activity of the hippocampus, a structure responsible for creating and storing recent memories. Although clinical studies are conducted on its effectiveness, do not try it at home, because there is a danger for your health, risking electric shock.
I do not, however, wish to discourage you from having a look at what ways are out there to improve memory. Solutions exist. A recent publication of the scientific journal Neuron argues for the amazing effectiveness of a, not so new, method, which does not involve electrodes so that you are not at risk. This method is based on the strategy of memorizing information organized along an imaginary path in space.
Someone who wants to be a memory champion and is asked to memorize and then recall a host of new information will try to place it in space by envisioning a virtual path of his own. In fact, this method is already familiar to lovers of the books of Arthur Conan Doyle Conan, starring Sherlock Holmes, who when called upon to solve a mystery, was touring his iconic “Palace of memory”.
Cognitive neuroscientist Dr. Martin Dresler, of the Donders Center for Cognitive Neuroimaging, explains that this is possible for all of us, and anyone can acquire champion memory since the connectivity of neural circuits is plastic and can be enhanced with the above method. The claim is also documented by the publication of his research team.
Initially, the mechanisms that provide super-memory to champions of respective competitions were investigated and it was found that, while the anatomy of their brain does not differ in anything from that of an everyday human, the connectivity between the different regions is highly enhanced.
In particular, the medial and dorsal prefrontal cortex, which are conscripted when trying to associate new information with existing ones, displayed increased electrophysiological activity, as well as connected with many other memory-important areas of the brain.
Dr. Dressler thought: if one method can improve the connectivity of the brain of everyday people, then they will also acquire super-memory. To answer this admittedly interesting question, he recruited 51 people, which he divided into 3 groups: Participants of the first group were trained in short-term memory. The participants of the second category were trained in strategic memorization and the participants of the last team just were not trained to achieve any particular goal. After six weeks, the teams were tested again. The second, which had enlisted the strategic memorization method of Sherlock Holmes, achieved significantly higher scores on the memory tests. Initially, participants were able to hold just 26 words out of the total 72 included in the list which is only 36% of the total words. After the six-week training people of this group managed to be able to memorize 62, or 86% of the total. Therefore, they had more than doubled their mnemonic capacity. After performing neuroimaging, the team of Dr. Dressler praised that the participants’ brains began to significantly approach the 25 neural circuit connectivity standards that carry memory champions.
That’s why, if your mnemonic ability doesn’t serve your high expectations, don’t be defeatist. The people who participated in this experiment were everyday people for the most part. So, if the participants in this study succeeded, you certainly can too. It is enough to navigate in your own “palace of memory.” While memory plays a vital role in our intelligence it is not as crucial as other characteristics such as being able to adjust and communicate. Before starting your efforts to improve your memory think twice whether this is the next thing you want to improve or if there are other skills that will prove more helpful.
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