Would you believe me if I told you that there are such things as memory championships here in the United States in which competitors memorize 1400 random binary digits in under thirty minutes and compete to see who can memorize a shuffled deck of 52 cards fastest?
What if I told you that these people are not savants but have brain structures and capacities on par with the average person?
What if I told you that you could learn to do the same feats of memory…and so could your children and students??
Maybe you could believe the first two, but not the last one, right? I mean, teachers struggle to get children to learn a few historical dates, and parents would love it if their child could simply remember to make their own bed!
Surely, this can’t be true…can it?
Well, it is true. As Joshua Foer explains in his wonderful TED talk, we all have the capability of remembering significant amounts more than we ever give ourselves credit for today.
SO WHERE DID OUR MEMORY GO?
The short answer is: nowhere. We still have the power to train our minds to perform incredible feats of memory.
As Joshua discovered by using tricks such as the Memory Palace, human beings can begin to make deeper and more significant connections within the brain that enable us to make memories that last.
The key is making connections and associations within the brain. Our brains are not like file cabinets or folders on a computer hard drive.
Instead, everything in the brain is connected to something else. The reason you won’t forget your child’s name (without some major physical trauma, of course) is not simply because your child is important to you. It is because you have made thousands and thousands of other connections to your child that have become interwoven together.
Picture a huge fishing net or a gigantic knot in a string, and you will begin to understand how the brain is structured.
The lesson here is this: the more connections, the more anchored the memory is. And we make more connections when we involve the senses and/or make a strong impression.