Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Sheep Falls out of a Tree - Why Take up Memory Training

I recently read Christiane Stenger's book "A Sheep Falls Out of the Tree". Christiane is expert in memory training and grandmaster of the Youth Memory Championships.  She describes some of her techniques she developed starting at school to help her academic results and how these schools helped her become a champion.

Although Memory Sports are a specialised field for elite mental athletes, developing your memory benefits you in many areas. Christiane writes how training her mind helped lower stress, increase creativity, intellectual ability and self-confidence.

You will have to read the book to understand the meaning of the title. I will give you a hint - it is a mnemonic!

In the first chapter, Christiane offers ten reasons for taking up memory training. I have summarise these points, but you will need to read the book for full details.

1. A good memory is an essential requirement for knowledge and education.

When we learn, there are three skills we follow in sequence to build up our knowledge: Obtaining knowledge, transforming it into knowledge and linking (associating) with what we already know and storing the knowledge so that it can be accessed for life (long term recall).

Memory training enables you to exploit the potential of your brain and to lay down information more easily in your memory by converting it into images and by associating it with knowledge you already have.  If you can form images and associations more quickly then obviously you will learn faster.

2. Give your imagination wings.

An essential skill in memory training is the ability to make strong visual images of what you are trying to remember. Fantasy is the creative ability of the human mind to produce, envisage and combine these images.  When you make associations you need to develop strong mental images. Using more fantasy and unusual images will create stronger memories.

Allowing our imagination and powers of fantasy is not usually encouraged at school. In fact, teachers tend to chastise students for daydreaming or lack of focus when too much fantasy is present.  So give yourself permission to spend more time playing with your thoughts and ideas and to dream a bit more.

3. Develop your creativity

Everyone is creative to some degree. Your creative abilities can be expanded and there are many ways of training it. Since creativity is closely linked with imagination and visualisation, as you develop your powers of imagination, your creativity will develop.

One aspect of creativity is the ability to combine things in new and novel ways. Maybe you can create something new by associating two dissimilar things, or associating your problem with something in your memory.

4. Strengthen your powers of perception, your social skills, and your capacity for expression.

Have you noticed how your most powerful memories are based on events with strong emotions, for example, times of great happiness or sadness. Memory is also based on other sensory experiences, so when you train your memory and use all the senses (sight, sound, taste, touch and smell) you create more associations. Consequently you will become more perceptive and observe your environment more closely.

Training your memory will help strengthen your powers of perception and in turn will enhance your ability to express yourself in words, writing and speaking.

5. You set the guidelines for flexible and joined-up thinking.

Memory is built on association so when you learn something new, you associate it with what you already now. You are building your own networked structure of knowledge. This process uses different parts of the brain and as a result, new pathways are created or consolidated as well as creating new approaches to problem-solving.

6. You develop a good sense of time and access to time management.

Memory training helps you with time management when you train with a stopwatch. You can test your own ability at memory training within periods of time and see how much you can memorise then later recall.

This will help you better estimate how long it will take you to do other memory-related tasks.

7. You increase your motivation, responsibility for your actions, your self-confidence, and self assurance.

When you do memory training you set your own targets. The nature of memory training means you get immediate feedback after you complete an activity, as it is easy to determine if you have memorised something. This in turn makes it easy to measure your progress.

Ultimately the improvements in your memory performance will increase your self-awareness, self-confidence and motivation.

8. You improve your capacity for concentration.

Concentration is absolutely essential for all challenges you wish to master. Focus and paying attention to the material being memorised will lead to success, Memory training will help you improve your concentration and you will be able to observe your performance based on your effort at concentration.

9. You improve the speed of thinking and your intellectual grasp.
When you are training your memory you will soon notice how much progress you are making with memorising. You will notice your speed of being able to form mental images improves with practice.

10. You learn to deal with stress better.

Stress can be alleviated with good planning and preparation, but this is not always possible. Stay calm!  You can create short periods of stress by training against the clock. See how much you can achieve in a 5 minute training session.

Now you will want to read the book. You can order the book from Amazon or read further reviews.


  1. Thanks caveman. Good review.

  2. Absolutely agree. I think good memory is a huge advantage in todays fast-paced society. Great review.

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