Should it not be optimal by nature?
And why is not everyone using this?
Teachers? Trainers? Speakers? Everyone
who wants to learn or teach? No one
seems to be able to answer these questions for me.
Brain Research Related to memory
So, I went on to do my PhD research
on the brains of memory champions.
Luckily, we can use methods, such as
magnetic resonance tomography
(MRT), to study brains. Our first look
was at the size of the brains and brain
regions. A landmark study from London
memory researchers found that London
taxi drivers, who know the map of London by heart, have an enlarged region
of the brain that is important for spatial
memory and navigation. “Well, the
memory athletes can remember even
more, so we should also find something!” But that was not the case. Even
training your memory to memorize a
number with 500 digits in five minutes
did not change their brain structures.
We went a bit further and looked at
brain activations during tasks, but there
was no clear picture. The techniques
changed brain activation, but did not
really shift it. The athletes activate
more of their brain, but do not replace
the way they learn.
Most interesting were the connections between brain regions. Even in
rest, which means while being scanned
without having to learn anything, different brain regions in the memory athletes’ brains communicated differently.
It is the communication that matters,
between humans and even within the
Most striking in our research was a
finding that recently made our publication, Neuron, the most widely read
neuroscientific research journal: Just
six weeks of training mnemonic strategies shifts the resting brain’s communication pattern of volunteers towards
that of memory athletes.
This means that to highly improve
your memory, you do not have to
change your memory. Your memory
already has everything you need to be
as good as the memory champions. You
just need to teach your brain regions to
start talking to each other more effectively. When we gave memory athletes
memory tasks they were not expecting,
or asked them not to use their techniques, their performance was back
down to normal. Their memory capacity did not change at all.
Looking into what we know about
memory and the brain already, that
does make a lot of sense. Learning
means making new connections in the
brain. Neurons are connected via
synapses, wherein brain regions are
connected both physically as functionally, which just means that they tend to
talk to each other. So much that a common approach to study the brain comes
from network research.
The 2014 Nobel Prize for medicine
went to three researchers for the discovery of so-called place cells in the
brain. These are specific cells that fire,
or send out signals, based on location.
They also do show “replay.” If you just
think of places you have been to, the
associated place cells will fire.
Build Your memory Palace
If I think back on my trip to Influence
2016 where I received my CSP medal,
my mind replays emotions, mostly positive, that I experienced upon meeting so
many amazing colleagues from around
the world. But, as inevitably, I will
remember locations. I remember the different rooms, hallways and settings. The
main method of memory athletics is the
method of loci, also known as the
“memory palace method,” that utilizes
exactly that, and most likely the place
cells within the brain.
When you struggle to remember, it
is usually information your brain is not
inherently made up for. A name? It has
Follow these five tips based on brain and learning sciences:
1make up images to remem- ber a name. Think of other
people with the same name.
if you meet an Oprah, see her
being a guest on Oprah. if you
meet a cavett, picture him with
cavett robert, cSp, cpae.
2Build a memory palace. This technique is as ancient
as it is useful. prepare a set of
locations in familiar places that
serve as a canvas for images that
encode information you want
3Test yourself early and often. if you read an article
in Speaker, ask yourself what
you just read. when leaving
a meeting, check your memory
for the names and appearances
of people you just met. This
retrieval practice is very
beneficial for memory.
4Do not cut sleep. while asleep, your body rests
but your brain keeps working
to refresh and rearrange
memory, a process known
as memory consolidation.
5make an effort. research shows that a memory used
is a memory that stays. using
your memory and giving it challenging tasks is the best way
to stay sharp.