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Medical Increase my chunks

  1. Apr 17, 2007 #1

    Mk

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    Ok, so there were these things I was reading about. Mental chunks of memory. I also remember "five, plus or minus one." How can I work to directly increase the size of my chunks?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 29, 2007 #2
    "Mental chunks of memory ... How can I work to directly increase the size of my chunks?"

    I would think that until (and unless) you fill-up the chunks of memory, they will NOT need to increase in size.

    And, I think that if (and when) you begin to fill-them-up, they will create more storage space.

    Use it, or lose it.

    I do not want to remember TOO much.
    I happily forget several hours of "stuff" each day.
    If I had to remember every turn I made in my car ... every day ... year-after-year, I would not be a happy person.

    It's better to forget.
    Total recall must be a real nightmare.
    I'm glad I don't have it.
     
  4. May 31, 2007 #3
    What Mk is talking about is working memory. You can find stories on this in Scientific American and other such publications. A few of these stories centered around chess grandmasters. The idea is this: you can only keep track of six or seven things at once. This is where the five plus or minus one came about. So when a novice looks at a chessboard, he sees each individual piece and its placement. When a master looks at a chessboard, he sees a pattern (a bigger chunk).

    Have you ever noticed that when you are trying to remember a number, it helps to say four fifty five - fourteen, instead of four five five one four? That's because you've increased the size of the chunks, or decreased the total number of items you're keeping track of.

    Basically, we owe everything we have to language. A single word can can have horribly complex connotations - things that we could never comprehend without this type of representation.

    The good news is that this happens naturally with practice at any given task. The bad news is that it is context based. But you can use language as a tool to help you in any situation. Consider the following: I was once in charge of the inventory of a small business that manufactured auto upholstery. They had no software so I was forced to take a manual count. I was given a part number, a color number, a material, an option and an expected number of items. Say I had 15 CXXX(part number) #1042 (color number) ST (single texture) /PC (with plastic curtain).

    At first this was rather daunting, until I determined that 1042 was simply black. I realized that most parts had curtains, so I called that standard. I was then left with "fifteen CXXX Black ST standards". Then I noticed that single texture was the most common, and so was black. So that pattern became "standard". I was eventually able to use one number and one word (standard) to refer to an entire set of variables. I drastically reduced the time and the effort required. Just look for patterns, Mk.
     
  5. May 31, 2007 #4
    digital memory is better at storing quantifiable information- one would just need a neural interface between the appropriate brain regions and a digital memory medium with software that translates the digital information into neural signal analogs that the brain can understand- such as a simple projection of ascii characters onto your visual cortex or optic nerve- or even a more subtle connection to your arithmetic processing regions so you just remember naturally whatever is in digital memory-

    there does not even need to be a specific local digital memory device- the neural interface could be connected wirelessly to the internet- so that the entire internet could be part of your memory and knowledge- imagine someone asking you a European history question and your mind automatically doing a Wikipedia search and projecting the text and images into your visual imagination just as it now just tries to remember what it learned years ago in high school
     
    Last edited: May 31, 2007
  6. Jun 1, 2007 #5
    Neumonics, word association, are a time tested practice for expanding memory. There's one guy in LA who has memorized the entire phone book. There are also certain foods such as eggs, grapes, etc. that are particularly helpful for increasing memory. I always eat eggs before a test.
     
  7. Jun 3, 2007 #6
    I'm a ridiculously visual learner. I can't remember or learn anything without getting an animation or picture in my head.

    For relativity, I see a giant sand-man moving a gigantic rock under the sea (the more he pushes the rock, his sand is transfered and becomes part of the rock— it becomes more massive. the waves flow at C, things are distorted the faster they move in the water— length contraction)... it doesn't make much sense, but it helps me remember the details; it's such a distinctive image that you can't forget it.

    I recommend you figure what kind of a learner you are, it's a a useful tool to remembering more things (and understanding them too). Also, force yourself to memorize things throughout the day... with all the brain plasticity research going around, I'd think the worst thing you can do is "cheat" your memory.
     
  8. Jun 30, 2007 #7

    Math Is Hard

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    I know it's late to pop in, but I just wanted to mention that we were taught "7 plus or minus 2" as the upper limit on short term memory items that could be held. My professor used to say, "there are only seven digits in a phone number for a reason".
     
  9. Jun 30, 2007 #8

    Evo

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    Actually, it's becoming more common to have to dial 10 digit phone numbers now (area code and phone number). What makes large strings of numbers easy for me to remember at just a glance is when they are broken up. For example I can glance at 213-897-3729 and instantly remember it but 2138973729 is more difficult.
     
  10. Jun 30, 2007 #9

    Math Is Hard

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    Sure, and it still works pretty well with "7 plus or minus 2" theory, because we can handle the area code in short term memory as a single chunk. Rather than thinking 818, for instance, I usually think of the single concept of "Valley area code".

    That's a nice talent to have! I would have a very difficult time hanging on to 897 and 3279 without rehearsal in memory, even though they are broken up. If someone gives me that many digits, I have to repeat it in a "phonological loop" in my head until I can get to pen and paper to write it down. Of course, if there is any distraction or interruption of my reheasal process, the digits fly away like sparrows.
     
  11. Jun 30, 2007 #10

    Evo

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    I just take a mental snapshot of it and keep the picture in my mind, breaking the string into groups makes the picture easier to read. If the numbers are given verbally, then I have to repeat them a couple of times in my head to create a visual image of them that sticks.
     
  12. Jun 30, 2007 #11
    Here's a question we can all appreciate - do you (anyone) think that the information in short term memory is <i>actually</i> represented in prefrontal cortex, or is the PFC more of a switching board that keeps different areas of the brain constantly active? For instance, the Baddeley & Hitch model gave us the aformentioned phonological loop idea - it seems pretty darn valid to me - I can almost observe it working in my mind... but is the information contained in the frontal lobes, or are the mental representations in other areas of the brain temporarily linked and rythmically reenforced? I really have no idea... but the idea of complex information traveling from one area of the brain to another seems far fetched... what do you guys think?
     
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