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Memorization Tactics

  1. Aug 14, 2004 #1
    I know some of you may have a photographic memory. But I'm just wondering if anyone has any special memorization tactics they use. I have a good memory already but I'd like to memorize things faster.

    I current read, retype, rewrite, say aloud, or say in my head what I'm trying to memorize. Those are the only tactics I can think of that I use. By memorizing more do you just get better, or?

    I wasn't sure where to post this.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 14, 2004 #2
    depends on what you want to memorize. On the mathematics theorems or physics laws, nothing better than redemonstrate from scratch. For anything (including those) association stuff works very neatly to me : for instance, you take the same path every morning to go to work. Associate the several spots visited every morning to steps in a proof, or in a story. You might be a music fan : you can make associations with several movements in a piece of Mozart...

    Well, I also have a photographic memory. This is very efficient too.
     
  4. Aug 14, 2004 #3

    Gokul43201

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    There's always menmonics (and acrostics) - they have limited scope, but in certain places are very useful.

    A few that I've used...

    ILATE (for integration by parts) - usual order, Inverse-trig, Log, Algebraic, Trig, Exp.

    OMSGAPSA ("Oh my, such good apple pie, sweet as sugar" for dicarboxylic acids) - oxalic, malonic, succinic, glutaric, adipic, pimelic, suberic, azelaic, sebacic.

    BBRGBVGW ("B.B ROY of Great Britain, had a Very Good Wife" - there's others too - for resistor color codes) black, brown, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet, gold, white.
     
  5. Aug 14, 2004 #4
    ..

    Not sure how credible this is, but it's interesting nonetheless:

    Here
     
  6. Aug 14, 2004 #5

    chroot

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  7. Aug 14, 2004 #6

    Gokul43201

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    Really interesting technique...it takes a bit of investment, but the dividends must really pay off, eh ? But I'm sure, it will be hard to convince a stranger to put in all the work of creating and familiarizing him-/herself with pegs.

    What makes you pick that specific choice of sounds to associate with numbers ? Is that not going to take a bit of memorizing, by itself ? Why not just pick more obvious sounds, like :
    0 : s,z (easy)
    1 : w,v (wet, wife)
    2 : t (tea, toes)
    3 : ee, ea (need, feel)
    4 : f (fire)
    5 : eye
    6 : i (as in six, bit, hit)
    7 : eh (end)
    8 : ay (say)
    9 : n (nose)

    Okay, now I see the drawback in this approach. Too many close calls, and several unused sounds...more confusion.

    Wow, it probably took a lot of time to come up with the right sounds so there exist words using any 2 sounds that can be made without using a third sound (to generate some 2-digit number and not confuse it with another).

    Know of anyone else that has adopted this approach on your suggestion ?
     
  8. Aug 14, 2004 #7

    Gokul43201

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    I remember the periodic table in term of groups rather than periods - seems more intuitive that way. Never did try to memorize it, but the groups just stick in my head from familiarity. Of course, you have to remember one period : Sc, Ti, V, Cr, Mn, Fe, Co, Ni, Cu, Zn (hope I got that right) which is the first period of the transition metals. The lanthanides, I know fairly well - and only because I've worked with most of them - but the actinides, I only know only very roughly (positionwise).
     
  9. Aug 14, 2004 #8

    Moonbear

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    I tend to memorize things by breaking it down into smaller groups and memorizing a bit of it at a time. So, if I was memorizing a list of things, such as: cat dog house car cheese suitcase, my strategy would look something like this (I say it to myself, aloud or silently, but I think it spoken, not written):
    cat
    cat dog
    cat dog
    cat dog house
    cat dog house
    okay, got that
    cat dog house car
    cat dog house car
    cat dog house car cheese
    cat dog house car cheese
    cat dog house car cheese (gotta say it more times to remember more things)
    cat dog house car cheese suitcase
    cat dog house car cheese suitcase

    See, all memorized now, whatever good that does me :-)

    If there are clear relationships between things, I'll try to remember the relationship rather than the items...it's easier to reconstruct that way.

    Another way to memorize is to use mnemonics that tie together items in a list in a way that forms relationships you're more likely to remember.

    In the above list:
    cats don't like dogs
    dogs have dog houses
    the dog goes for a ride in the car
    bring a suitcase for the car trip
    and bring some cheese for a snack.
    This way, you picture sort of a scene that includes all the items in the list rather than just remembering words.
     
  10. Aug 14, 2004 #9

    Evo

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    I was born with (pretty much) a photographic memory. It aggravates people to no end. Made schoolwork real easy. :biggrin: I'm not nearly nearly as good as I was before I was 14 though (this is when I was hospitalized with a very serious case of mono, temperature over 105 F. I was in the hospital for three days before I "woke up". I never lost consciousness according to everyone, they say I was awake and alert but I have zero memory of those three days, I don't even remember going to the hospital.)
     
  11. Aug 14, 2004 #10

    chroot

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    Gokul,

    The system I use works like an absolute charm. If I brush up on the periodic table say, once per year, I can tell you any element on it within a second or two. Brushing up doesn't require actually looking at a periodic table; it just takes a second or two per peg to figure out the peg and remember the associations.

    I chose the sounds specifically for the reason you discovered -- you want to cover all the common sounds in the english language without any overlap. I don't have any confusion with the sounds I use, but I suppose you should reinvert your sounds if you have trouble with those ones -- whatever comes naturally is best for you. I also hesitate to tell people the specific pegs I use for my numbers, because I feel each person should come up with a peg that he/she finds easiest to remember rather than just using mine.

    The whole process of selecting pegs does not take a very long time, and you can do it bit by bit. For example, you can probably memorize half the periodic table in an evening (and the other half the next evening) and I can pretty much assure that if you do it carefully, you'll never forget it for the rest of your life.

    - Warren
     
  12. Aug 14, 2004 #11

    chroot

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    Would you be willing to be a guinea pig and use one of the systems I use to memorize this list? I will explain them in considerable detail if you're interested, but will explain them briefly here. I'd like to find out if you find them easier than this method.

    I would use one of three methods to memorize this list:

    Locus association, which depends on a physical device like a pen, or even your body. You associate each element of the list pictorially with a part of the device, in order. For example, you'd associate the cat with your feet, then the dog with your knees, then house with your hips and so on up to the top of your head. If you wanted to use a pen, you'd use the button at the top of the pen, the pocket clip, the barrel, etc. from the top of the pen to the bottom.

    Simple image association chaining, in which you associate each object with the next by visualizing them interacting in some memorable, crazy way. An image of a dog chasing a cat, for example, might do it for you, but an image of a dog bringing up a glass of fine champagne to seduce the cat of his dreams might work better.

    Number peg association, in which each object is pictorially associated with the number peg corresponding to its position in the list.

    Let me know if any of these techniques interest you and I'll demonstrate how I'd use that technique to memorize the list.

    Note: I actually use all of the techniques with great success -- I'm not selling you something that I don't actually believe in!

    - Warren
     
  13. Aug 14, 2004 #12

    Math Is Hard

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    OBAFGKM ("Oh, be a fine girl, kiss me.")

    Know that one?
     
  14. Aug 14, 2004 #13

    chroot

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    MIH,

    And all this time I thought it was "Oh Be a Fine Gorilla, Kiss Me." :redface:

    - Warren
     
  15. Aug 14, 2004 #14

    Math Is Hard

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    HAHAHA! I like yours better. It sticks in my brain better too for some reason! :rofl:
     
  16. Aug 14, 2004 #15

    Gokul43201

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    I think those are spectral types, but I've never come across the mnemonic. :tongue2:

    Hey there's a site that lists several mnemonics for this :

    http://www.geocities.com/SummerDale33/Mnemonic.html

    I like : Officially, Bill Always Felt Guilty Kissing Monica
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2004
  17. Aug 14, 2004 #16
    Wow; alot of helpful tips are surfacing. Chroot's method seems really cool, I hope I can give it a try something. I know Polinium at number 84 is already stuck in my mind and I only read it once. I don't have anything I can think of to use the method on yet though.
     
  18. Aug 15, 2004 #17

    Moonbear

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    I haven't needed to really memorize things very much in a long time, not really since undergrad, and then in my graduate level biochem courses. Nowadays, understanding is more important than long lists, though if you could get me to remember that one item I always forget on the grocery list (because the hardest thing for me to remember is to take the list with me), I'd be very happy! Though, I'm not sure if any of these methods sounds like they'll work for that.

    Does this really work? It sounds more complicated than just remembering the list itself! I don't think my mind works in a way that this would be at all helpful. I'd probably get as far as "feet...okay, feet are something, what?"

    I think this is sort of like the second part of my post. It has worked when I have a lot of things to remember. I make up silly stories because the story is easier than the list by itself. But, too outrageous gets harder for me rather than easier (aging seems to have influenced that...when I was in high school, the more outrageous the story, the easier to remember...my friends thought I was nuts with the stories I had to remember things for tests, or maybe I just haven't been forced into such rote memorization of things in a long time, so am out of practice). It seems a lot like what "they" say is a good way to remember people's names (something I'm notoriously bad about) by associating something with the name and person when you are introduced. Like, if someone is named Chris, you're supposed to do something like picture them eating a big bag of chips, and then you think Crispy Chips, like Chris-py chips, and that's supposed to help you remember their name is Chris. Problem for me, is I'll then meet this person again, and either remember the image and call them Chip, or I just can't remember that I was supposed to think "crispy chips" when I saw them next.

    What do you mean by a peg? I guess, in a way, this might work if you mean "seeing" it in a given position. But, again, I'm skeptical if it will work for me. I think my brain works in a strange way. I am fantastic at finding exactly what I need to find in ancient notebooks or textbooks I haven't read in years. For some reason, I am great at picturing the position of a bit of information written on a page, but it doesn't help me remember what that information is. This weird way that my brain works has really startled people in former labs I've worked in. They'll write to me asking about an experiment I did while there and I'll tell them what shelf my old notebook is stored on (or weirder when it was someone else's notebook that I had previously read through for information myself), flip to a page about 2/3 of the way through the book (sometimes I can give a more precise page location), there will be a sheet of paper with a list of numbers, between two pages with graphs on them, and in that list of numbers, in the right hand column is the number they are looking for. At least I think it's weird.

    I don't know, my way seems to work pretty well though...even though it's been several hours since I typed my previous post and I have no reason at all to have committed that list to memory, just the process of writing out the approach to memorizing it has it pretty well stuck in my head now. Great, there goes something useful, replaced by something that's just a nonsense list! :rofl:
     
  19. Aug 15, 2004 #18

    chroot

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    Moonbear,

    A "number peg" is just an image that you associate with a number -- some people use the shape of the number, while I prefer to use sounds associated with the numerals themselves. See my post #7 of the thread https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=8129 to see what I'm talking about in more detail.

    - Warren
     
  20. Aug 15, 2004 #19

    Is it not black, brown, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet, grey, white?

    I am studying for a Physics Test. I apologise if I seem a little annoying. :tongue2:
     
  21. Aug 15, 2004 #20

    Doc Al

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    memory techniques -- Harry Lorayne

    Wow... this takes me back! When I was a high school kid (before you were born, Warren!) I was obsessed with mnemonics after having read Harry Lorayne's "How to develop a super power memory". I would stun friends by easily memorizing a list of 100 objects, associating each with its numerical position in the list.

    At the time I thought Lorayne invented these techniques, but of course they've been around for millennia. Even the specific phonetic alphabet he uses (to convert numbers to sounds) had been around for well over a century before Lorayne wrote about it. It seems every few years someone "reinvents" these methods. (A few years ago it was Kevin Trudeau selling his "Mega Memory" on late night infomercials.)

    All that aside, do the methods work? You bet! Are they the magic answer to learning physics (or anything else)? Of course not. In my opinion, mnemonics have extremely limited application. (Most things need to be understood, not memorized.) But where they can be used, mnemonics are incredibly helpful and well worth your time to explore. Especially if you are in school. (I remember the techniques saving my butt on more than one occasion. For example, going into an exam where the tests were so hard that even if you could derive the needed equations (like trig identities or integrals) from scratch you just had no time! It was just assumed that you knew that stuff cold as a starting point. So, I would memorize a pile of equations that I knew I might need. As soon as the test began, I would write them out for reference. Problem solved.)

    Harry Lorayne's books are still in print (and Harry's still around). Check out his "The Memory Book" which was a bestseller some years ago.
     
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