The Best Memory Trick - Improve Your Memory Today

Oct 14 13:19 2007 Douglas Jobes Print This Article

If you have memory problems, you might not be using your brain in the right way.  The solution?  Learn the trick that memory performers use.  This article teaches you how to do it.

If you have memory problems,Guest Posting you might not be using your brain in the right way.  The solution?  Learn the trick that memory performers use.

These performers amaze us with all sorts of memory feats, such as magically remembering the exact order of the 52 cards in a deck (or even several decks!).  You might assume these people  have photographic memories, but you would be wrong.  Most of them only have average memories.

Instead, memory performers use a technique that I will call “Visualization and Association” (V&A).  This is a fun memory trick that anyone who wants to have a great memory can learn.  If you have trouble remembering your school work, or facts related to your job, or current events, or people’s names, or any other type of information, the solution is to learn V&A and make it a personal habit you use every day.

Even if you only have an average memory – or even a bad memory – you can still use V&A to memorize things easily and well.  Small children have been taught this technique, so anyone can learn it.

Why This Technique Works

Most people remember images better than verbal or written information.  For example, I may be able to easily imagine the different homes I have lived in during my life, even though I might have a hard time remembering all the addresses and phone numbers.

Images are concrete, while raw information is often abstract.  With the V&A technique, you convert the abstract information into easy-to-remember mental pictures. Before I explain how to do the V&A memory technique, let me explain why it works.  I have already mentioned that images are easier to remember.  But it goes beyond that.  Other important aspects of memory that V&A takes advantage of are concentration and repetition. 

If you can’t focus, you won’t remember what you are trying to learn.  The V&A process forces you to focus.  Why?  Because you are actively using the material.  To change facts into mental images, you must focus - you have no choice.  Creating mental images is a powerful way to focus the mind.

In addition, exposing yourself to the material over and over while creating images is repetition.  If someone you meet tells you their name one time, you might or might not remember their name.  But if they remind you during the conversation what their name is, you will remember their name more easily because you heard it more than once.  (Most people we meet don’t help us out like that, though!)  When creating your mental images, you naturally “repeat” the details until you get each image clear in your mind.

So the V&A technique boosts your memory for three reasons:

- Images are easier to remember than facts- Creating images forces you to focus- Reviewing your images is repetition that helps memory

By the way, V&A is not time consuming – it saves time.  Creating mental images does take a few moments.  But if you practice a little each day, you will get very fast.  Think about this:  how much time have you wasted repeating something over and over in the hope of remembering it, and then you forget it anyway?  Use the V&A memory trick, and you will remember the information very well the first time.  And it will stick.

How to Do It

So, how do you use the V&A memory technique?  Let me explain using an example. This example is from science, but V&A is so basic it can be used to remember just about anything.

Let’s suppose your biochemistry teacher asks you to memorize the most common “nucleotides”, chemicals that are part of everyone’s DNA.

The teacher tells you there are five types of nucleotides:  adenine, guanine, cytosine, uracil, and thymine.

Now, how can you remember this information for the exam?  If you simply repeat the names of the nucleotides over and over, you might forget one or more of them in a short time.

The V&A trick is to create mental images and associate the images together in your head.  Here are the steps for using the V&A technique:

1. Think of easy words or phrases that sound like the hard words.


- nucleotide = “nuclear tide”- adenine = “add a knee”- guanine = “gong knee”- cytosine = “sight a stream”- uracil = “you’re a sill”- thymine = “thigh meat”

The easy words don’t have to sound exactly like the hard words.  The easy words act as a reminder.  You will automatically remember the hard words if you recall the easy ones.  Trust me on this.

2. Now, think of a simple mental image for each easy word.  Silly images are fine.  Actually they are better, because silly things are easier to remember.

Try to see each image vividly in your mind.


- nuclear tide = nuclear bomb mushroom cloud exploding in ocean waves (not silly)- add a knee = adding a knee to one of your legs, so that you have three knees (silly)- gong knee = hit your knee, it sounds like a metal gong (musical instrument)sight a stream = a stream flowing in the distance- you’re a sill = you are lying sideways under a big window – you are the window sill- thigh meat = fried chicken, thigh piece

Now, associate the mental images to each other, in order.

Again, make sure to imagine the mental pictures clearly.  Imagine the colors, shapes, sounds, and movement in your images.  This will help the pictures stick in your mind.

nuclear tide -> add a knee:  connect the “tide” in your nuclear tide image with the three knees image.  Perhaps imagine yourself with three knees trying to wade through the tide at the beach.  

add a knee -> gong knee = the word “knee” already connects these two.  So, the image of you wading three-kneed through the tide could make you think of hitting your knee making it sound like a gong.

gong knee -> sight a stream = you’ve already used “knee” in two images. To prevent confusion, tie the “gong” to the sight a stream image.  Your image of hitting your knee like a gong could make you think of you seeing a distant stream with hundreds of gongs floating down river.

sight a stream -> you’re a sill = now, tie “stream” to your sill image.  As a separate image, imagine yourself as a window sill, and a stream is flowing through the window getting you all wet.

you're a sill -> thigh meat = now, create a separate image associating “sill” with a fried chicken thigh.  Perhaps imagine someone closing a window onto a box of fried chicken.  It makes a greasy mess, and one of the chicken thighs gets smushed on the sill.

3. That’s it.  Now, review it.  The teacher asks you to name the five nucleotides that make up DNA.  See if you can do it by recalling the images in your mind.  Start with your image of “nuclear tide”.

Let’s walk through it.  The teacher says “nucleotide” or you see the word written on the test, and immediately your image of a mushroom cloud in the ocean tide (nuclear tide) comes to mind.  Next, “tide” should remind you of your three-kneed self wading through the tide.  You have an extra knee (“add a knee”), so the first nucleotide is adenine. 

The three knees image makes you think of your “gong knee” image, so the second nucleotide is guanine.  The gong knee reminds you of all the gongs floating down a distant stream in your sight (“sight a stream”), so the third nucleotide is cytosine. 

Next, the stream reminds you of the window that a stream is flowing through, with you as the window sill (“you’re a sill”), so the next nucleotide is uracil.  Finally, the window sill reminds you of a window closing on a box of fried chicken, with the fried chicken thigh (“thigh meat”) getting smashed – thymine.

It’s true, it took me a few moments to type this description of what you are seeing in your mind.  But the mental process is actually very fast.  The images literally flash one after the other in your mind’s eye, and you instantly know the answer.

Some scientists believe we never forget anything.  Nine times out of ten, the reason we can’t remember is that we can’t find the information in our brains.  It’s there, we just can’t get to it.  We have not made it a habit to create the mental hooks – the images – that we need to grab and pull out the information.

That’s what I meant at the beginning about not using your brain in the right way.  If you practice the V&A memory technique, you will get very good at creating the mental hooks for anything that you want to remember.

At first, it may seem like an artificial way to remember something.  But remember, Visualization & Association is what the memory performers use – and it works.  It’s actually a lot of fun, once you get the hang of it.  It really taps into your creativity.

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Douglas Jobes
Douglas Jobes

Douglas Jobes has made it his mission to help others improve their memory.  On his website , Douglas provides free information and resources for anyone who wants to remember things better.  Check out his website for more great memory improvement tips.

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