Thursday, October 29, 2009

Memory Training Course in Brisbane, Queensland

Memory is a skill that can be taught. Memory improves with age. The decline of memory with age is a myth! Everyone has potentially a superb memory!
Jennifer Goddard, director of the Buzan Centre for Australia and New Zealand is running a one day Memory Workshop on Thursday, 19 November 2009 from 6:00pm - 8:00pm at the Press Club on 339 Brunswick Street, Fortitude Valley, Qld.

It is good to see that the skill of Memory is recognised  as important and capable of being trained.

Please visit this link to read more about this course.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Memorising the Chinese Zodiac using a story

In my previous article I introduced the Chinese Zodiac and showed how it was possible to remember the twelve animals and their corresponding years using the number peg system. 2008 is the year of the Rat, and the following years are Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig.

Another way of remembering the twelve animals is to link them together using a story. Each animal is imagined doing some sort of memorable action. In addition, your image needs to trigger recall of the next animal in the series. Here is my story. 

  • A large RAT jumps on the head of an OX.
  • The OX gets really annoyed and charges into a TIGER.
  • The TIGER is trying to eat a large grey RABBIT.
  • The RABBIT runs back into his burrow and finds a Golden DRAGON hiding inside with his eyes glowing and breathing fire.
  • The DRAGON's tail is like a SNAKE, slithering out of the burrow.
  • The SNAKE wraps itself around the leg of a HORSE attempting to strangle the horse.
  • The HORSE shakes its leg and a GOAT runs to the horse dislodging the snake with its horns.
  • The GOAT tosses the snake up into a tree where it is caught by a golden MONKEY.
  • The MONKEY laughs and shrieks, imitating a ROOSTER.
  • Another ROOSTER is running in the farmyard chasing a DOG.
  • The DOG is chasing the PIGS and trying to eat from their trough.
Well, this story seems rather pointless and silly but I am able to recall it easily and identify the twelve animals in sequence. I have made the Dragon and the Monkey "Golden" as these represent the years for 2012 and 2016 for faster recall of the years in the story. After a few days of remembering my story I know that Dragon is 2012 and Monkey is 2016. I knew that the Rat is 2008 from the first time I memorised the story.

Converting a birth year into a Chinese sign is a process of adding multiples of 12 until 2008 or later is reached.  If I wanted to convert a birth year of 1990, I add 24 to get 2014. Recalling my story starting with with the Rat (2008), Ox (2009), Tiger (2010), Rabbit (2011), Dragon (2012), Snake (2013) then Horse (2014).

This process of recall takes time, compared to the Peg System. 2014 gives a peg word of Red Tyre, and my key image was a Red Tyre around a Horse's neck.  Once the "milestones" of Dragon and Monkey were remembered, I could recall Dragon (2012), Snake (2013) then Horse (2014).

We have now seen two memory systems in action to memorise the same set of information. Your choice of system depends on how you want to recall the information.  The story method is great for recalling the animals in sequence, and the peg system is faster for converting years into animal signs.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Memorising the Chinese horoscope

According to Chinese tradition, 2009 is the Year of the Ox. The City of Sydney as well as any city with a large Chinese population celebrates Chinese New Year with a big festival.

The Chinese Zodiac has a cycle of 12 years with each year having an assigned animal. Each sign represents a different personality. The Zodiac traditionally begins with the Rat, so here is the sequence starting with the rat and the corresponding years.

2008  Rat       
2009  Ox        
2010  Tiger     
2011  Rabbit    

2012  Dragon    
2013  Snake     
2014  Horse     
2015  Goat      

2016  Monkey    
2017  Rooster   
2018  Dog       
2019  Pig       

To work out your animal based on your birth year, take your birth year and continue to add 12 until the number is between 2008 and 2019.  For example if you were born in 1972, keep adding 12 and you will get 1984, 1996, then 2008. Therefore you were born in the Year of the Rat.

Asking someone for their animal sign is a useful method for deducing a person's age (to the nearest multiple of 12).  Chinese people often ask others for their animal sign to deduce who is the older among friends and acquaintances.

How to Memorise?

I wanted to memorise these twelve signs and their associated years using the memory techniques I have described in earlier articles.   First of all, what needs to be memorised?  There are two sets of information - the twelve animals in sequence, and their corresponding years.

A story could be created linking the animals together, starting in 2008. In Chinese culture, 8 is a lucky number so maybe a large pot of gold could be associated with the Rat, Dragon and Monkey since their years are multiples of 12. Converting a year to an animal would require recalling the sequence and counting the steps to find the year.

Can you devise a story starting with the Rat in the year 2008?  Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig. Post your story in the comments and I will write a followup article next week.

Using the Peg System

I decided to use my Peg words for the numbers 8 to 19 and associate the peg word to the animal. I have included a link at the end of  this article if you are not familar with this system. Here is the list of years and my peg word.

2008  Rat        ivy
2009  Ox         bee
2010  Tiger      toes
2011  Rabbit     tot (baby)

2012  Dragon     ton
2013  Snake      dam
2014  Horse      tyre
2015  Goat       towel

2016  Monkey     tissue
2017  Rooster    tack
2018  Dog        dove
2019  Pig        tap

Since all of the years are in the 21st century I only need to use the last two digits of the year to create a peg word.

The number 8 is lucky in Chinese tradition and a good way to remember the start year for the animal sequence. Because the information being memorised is Chinese I have added the colour red to the imagery of my associations.

2008 ivy  Rat - a rat is climbing up a red ivy plant. The ivy is entwined in the rat' stail.
2009 bee - Ox - a giant red bee is swooping down on to the ox and stinging him on the behind.
2010 toes - Tiger - large red toes are walking quietly in the jungle. The toes belong to a tiger.
2011 tot - Rabbit - a red baby is cuddling a large soft toy rabbit
2012 ton - Dragon - a red one ton weight is being blasted by the flames from a dragon's mouth
2013 dam - Snake - a giant red snake is slithering up a river valley towards the dam
2014 tyre - Horse - a large red tyre is hanging around the horse's neck
2015 towel - Goat - a red goat is chewing a large red towel, ripping it to shreds
2016 tissue - Monkey - a monkey is blowing his nose with a large red tissue
2017 tack - Rooster - a rooster has large red tacks instead of claws, as well as a red tack protruding from his beak.
2018 dove - Dog - a dog is chasing a flock of red doves, and attempting to catch one of the birds.
2019 tap -Pig - a large red tap has been turned on and a thick sludge comes out into a trough for a pig.

Let's see the system in action for someone born in 1988. What is her Chinese sign? Adding 12 gives 2000. Adding 12 again gives 2012. This is greater than 2008, and the key image is a red TON, which is being blasted by a dragon.  This person was born in the Year of the Dragon.

More information:

Where is Montenegro?

Recently my wife and I were watching the James Bond film Casino Royale. A city appeared in shot with a sub-title of Montenegro. Where exactly is Montenegro? My country memorisation project helped me answer this question.

In an earlier article, I wrote how I used a set of memory pegs to remember the countries and capitals in a geographic sequence. This arrangement helps me recall the neighbouring countries. Here is a section of  my country (and capital city) memory pegs.

121    Croatia  -  Zagreb
122    Bosnia and Herzegovina  -  Sarajevo
123    Montenegro  -  Podgorica
124    Serbia  -  Belgrade
125    Albania  -  Tirana

So how did I recall the location of Montenegro?

First of all, I recall my mental image of a Negro the size of a Mountain (MONTENEGRO) with a red gnome sitting on his shoulder (the image of 123). I remembered the capital because the Gnome was listening to an iPod (PODgorica), shouting "Go, Ricky!". Maybe he was listening to Ricky Martin?

Now that I had the peg number of 123 for Montenegro, I can recall the countries for 122 (Bosnia and Herzegovina) and 123 (Serbia).  My image for 122 (which translates to Red Nun) is a Nun wearing a red cloak sitting in a hearse (Herzegovina) which reminds me of Bosnia Herzegovina. The Nun is eating a salad which reminds me of the capital city, Sarajevo.

My key image of 124 is a red Nero and he is serving (Serbia) a large bell (Belgrade) instead of a tennis ball, over the fence onto sloping ground (a steep grade) which further reinforces the image of Belgrade.

My mental images for the associations may seem confusing but they are personal and established in my memory. Your associations will be different, but most importantly they should be memorable.

Now that I know the neighbouring countries, I can imagine the location of the country of Montenegro.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Memorising the countries and capitals of the world - my reflection

Earlier this year I set myself the goal of being able to recall the names of all the countries of the world and their capitals. There are two parts of this project.  The first is to be able to recite the names of the countries in sequence, and the second is to recall the capital of a given country. In addition, I should be able to recall the country when given a capital city.

My approach to memorising this project and the lessons learnt are described in this article.

1. I created a list of country names and capitals in an Excel spreadsheet. This information was sourced from the World Guide reference book.

2. I made a rough division of the world into continents and regions. This created problems as not every reference book classifies the counties so neatly. What are the borders of Europe?  Which countries are in Asia?  I made some mistakes on my virtual journey around Africa as I missed some islands in both the Pacific Ocean and Atlantic ocean.

3. Using a map, I worked out a journey starting in the United Kingom, and hopping from country to country in turn. I then assigned each country a sequence number for the order of memorisation.

4. I used the number peg system to associate a number to a country. Because there are over 200 countries, and my peg system consists of 100 pegs, I added colour to my pegs to create a new set of number pegs from 100 to 999. The first 100 pegs are red, the second 100 are green, the third hundred are blue.

In hindsight, the colours were sometimes difficult to recall and I should have used more action or involving the senses for example, icy cold, windy, and burning hot.

5. Now I had a list of coloured peg numbers, countries and capitals to learn. The list begins with the United Kingdom:
  • 101    United Kingdom - London
  • 102    Ireland - Dublin
  • 103    Portugal - Lisbon
  • 104    Spain - Madrid
  • 105    Andorra - Andorra la Vella
  • 106    France - Paris
  • 107    Luxembourg - Luxembourg
  • 108    Monaco - Monaco
  • 109    Belgium - Brussels
  • 110    Netherlands - Amsterdam
6. The memorisation process involves creating a strong mental image between the coloured peg word and the country. In addition I needed to create an association between the country and the capital.

I made small cardboard flashcards with the number on one side and the country and capital on the back. I took around 20 cards and a pencil with me on my daily walk to create vivid images.  Some of my early images were not too good but I got better as my imagination became wilder with practice.

Here are my first ten peg numbers (based on the Major System).
  1. tie
  2. Noah
  3. ma
  4. Ra
  5. law
  6. shoe
  7. key
  8. ivy
  9. bee
  10. toes
Mental images and associations can be wild, sexy, and maybe offensive to some people. Let your imagination go wild as you are under no obligation to explain your images to other people.  These are my images:

1 red tie -> United Kingdom - London A group of three KINGS have been tied up with a RED TIE but they are puffing up their lungs/chests (LONDON)

2 red Noah -> Ireland - Dublin a red faced Noah is drinking double-sized (DUBLIN) Guinness with a short leprechaun.  (This image is sufficient to prompt my recall of Ireland since I know that Dublin is the capital of Ireland)

3 red ma -> Portugal - Lisbon - a large black woman (Mama) is sitting on the Porch (PORTUGAL) of her house and cuddling her Lesbian (LISBON) lover.

4 red Ra -> Spain - Madrid. A red Pharaoh (my image of Ra) is sailing down the Nile waving a Spanner (SPAIN) and shouting loudly because he is MAD.

5 red law -> Andorra - Andorra la Vella. A red faced lawyer is banging the door (ANDORRA) which bursts open onto a large valley (Andorra La Vella)

6 red shoe -> France - Paris - a red shoe is kicking a soccer ball into the Arc de Triophe in Paris and hitting the red, white and blue French flag.

7 red key -> Luxembourg - Luxembourg. A large red key is pushed into a large cake of LUX soap (an Australian brand of soap) which is between two large hamburger buns (LUX + HAMBURGER). Because I didn't add any more imagery, I know that the capital city is the same name.

8 red ivy -> Monaco - Monaco. A large piece of red ivy is draped around the neck of a MONK.

9 red bee -> Belgium - Brussels. An enormous red bee is stinging a luscious Belgiuan chocolate which is surrounded by Brussel Sprouts (BRUSSELS).

10 red toes -> Netherlands - Amsterdam. A foot with red painted toes is pushing into a wooden clog which in turn is kicking a hamster (Amsterdam) into a large net (Netherlands) draped over water (next to a dyke).

7. Testing and Review

I used the Mnemosyne Spaced Repetion flashcard software (Mnemosyne is free software and runs on Windows, Mac and Linux) to test my recall. The program displays a card with the number, I recall the country and capital, then show the answer.  The program schedules the card for future review based on how I rated my recall.

Once I remembered a country I removed the card from the paper card collection and added more cards.

8. Countries and Territories.

As I memorised the islands of Africa and South America I encounted territories of other countries. Do I memorise these or not?  I decided to remember most of the territories and to identify them I included the image of a terrier dog.  For example, Montserrat is a British Territory with capital of Plymouth. The peg number is 302 which is a Blue Noah. My memory image is a blue-faced Noah chasing a Monster Rat (Montserrat) who is also being chased by a terrier dog with a plum in its mouth (Plymouth).

9. Continents to Country link

Towards the end of my memorisation project I realised I didn't have a means to recall the first country in my sequence for a particular continent.

I created a list of continents with the peg number for the first country in sequence. I converted the number into an image using the Major system then built an association.

Europe - 100 - Daisies
Eastern Europe - 145 - Trolley / Trowel
Middle East - 150 Tiles
Asia - 164 Teacher (in an indian classroom)
SE Asia 177 - hat cock (rooster)
ASia Pacific - 194  - toe bar
Africa - 216 - Ant - Ouch! bitten by ants
North and Central America - 269 -  nacho bee
South America - 279 - knee cap 
Caribbean - 293 - napalm

If I want to recall the countries of Africa, I think of the ants biting (ouch!), convert this to 216 which is green tissue. My key image is the pyramids (Egypt) covered in green tissue paper with cars (Cairo) driving down the sides of the pyramids. I can now continue in sequence, recalling the country associated with 217, 218 and so on.

10. Mistakes

After I memorised the countries of Africa it was pointed out to me I had omitted two islands. I had to add these countries on to the existing peg. For example, I omitted Seychelle (capital Victoria) so I added it to the peg for Comoros (Moroni). Now my mental image was a cormorant with a green mace (key word for 230) in its beak with a moron hanging on to mace. The moron is wearing a necklace of sea-shells with a picture of Queen Victoria.

11. Capitals to Countries.

Since I had the country and capital information in a spreadsheet, I imported the capital to country data into Mnemosyne for additional testing. I found this is a good way to confim my knowledge of the countries.

12. Lessons learnt

I use Mnemosyne daily to review my Country/Capital cards. My recall of some countries is still weak but I do know the information and Mnemosyne is helping me push the information into long term memory. It is important to review daily and Mnemosyne is the most time efficient method.

When preparing to memorise a large amount of information, I learnt how important it is to compile and check all the details. Then the memorising process can proceed.

Some of my 100 peg words didnt have strong images and these got changed during the course of this project. For example, ball is not a strong image for 95, but bull is more memorable. I used to use FAB (the washing powder) for 89 but I also use vibe (vibraphone). I have found it is possible to remember multiple keywords for the number pegs without becoming confusing.

Mnemosyne (when used daily) is a great way to assess how fast it is possible to memorise a lot of information. I only worked on creating associations on my weekends or an occasional lunchbreak, but I used Mnemosyne almost daily for review. Often I would be frustrated at how I had forgotten things, and sometimes I would refine the image to help my recall.

I also learnt how to convert very difficult words into something memorable. For example:
  • Equatorial Guinea - A guinea pig running around the Earth's equator
  • Burkina Farso - a fat lady wearing a bikini (Bikini Fatso)
  • Liberia (capital Monrovia) used the image of a group of choir boys from Libera driving the Moon Rover. 
  • Senegal (Dakar) - a man waving his pants ("Daks") at a flock of seagulls.
Click on the picture below to show the information I have memorised.

More information:

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Announcing the Memory Masters web site

I am pleased to announce the launch of the Memory Masters web site - the creation of Florian Dellé, webmaster of Memory-Sports and regular Memory Sports athlete.

Each week Florian is adding content  on one aspect of memory and I am writing on another topic. Currently I am exploring different systems for memorising numbers.

I am looking forward to contributing to Memory Masters and being part of the global community of people interested in developing memory skills. The site has a forum where you can discuss all aspects of memory.

Now let's travel to  Memory Masters!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

How does a teacher learn all the names of the students?

Photo from Flicky by smr+lsh

This is a guest post by Bob Madigan who has written previously on this blog. Bob is a teacher and describes how he remembers the names of his students.

Remembering the names of people in a group can be made easier if the names are available beforehand. I am a teacher and I have this situation when a class starts. Typically there are 30 to 40 people in a new group, and I like to try to learn their names as early as possible. Usually I have them by the end of the second class. Here is my approach.

Before the first class, I study the computer listing of names and put them in a journey with one name at each locus. I use the standard techniques that Charles has described in earlier posts for encoding names. I practice the journey enough so that by the day of class I can rattle off the list of names forward or backward, but more importantly, when I look at one of the names I can easily visualize the place where it is located on the journey.

This preparation greatly simplifies the task. I don't have to learn the names since I know them. I just have to associate a distinguishing feature of each person with the locus where his or her name is stored.

I get there early on the day of the first class and as the students assemble I steal a look at each to identify a feature I will later associate with their place on the journey. When it comes time for introductions, I move to each person in turn so I face them as they say their names. I ask them to not only give their names but also some information about themselves - typically their major area of study and their year in school. I don't try to retain these facts, but by moving around and by asking for extra information, I slow the process down a little so I have more time to associate the feature I have identified with the place in the journey where the name is.

Usually I do the introductions toward the end of class, and as I am walking away afterward, I run back through the journey and visualize the feature of each person I have placed at each locus. This immediate rehearsal helps lock down the information. Almost always I will find there are a couple of names where the features are too fuzzy to be helpful, usually because I let my concentration slip during the introduction. In the next class, I make it a point to get those names. I also make sure I can mentally name each of the others as they assemble on the second day. If not, I go over to the student and reintroduce myself.

Learning names is a highly desirable social move that pays dividends by facilitating rewarding interactions. When I learn the names of my students, I turn a sea of faces into a collection of interesting individuals with whom I now have an important connection. It completely changes the experience from the front of the room.

First day of a new job - name overload!

A challenging time for remembering names is when a new employee, contractor or consultant joins an organisation. In my company I meet new employees being given a tour of the floor and being introduced to many people in a short space of time.

How can this process be improved for the new starter? In this article I write about some resources can you use when settling in to a new environment?

The new person may be overloaded with an abundance of new names, but often the reverse situation can occur. Managers can help pave the way for new staff introductions by sending an introductory email BEFORE the start date. Information to include should include the name, role and some useful background information.

Name plates. Usually you can find name plates on partitions next to the desks. These are particularly useful to reinforce the name when you meet people.

Office Floor Plans. This is useful for finding people as well as building up a mental picture of where people work. You can also use it a checklist to tick off the names once you have been introduced.

Phone List. The office phone list is another useful checklist of names and spellings. Challenge yourself to meet everyone on the list, or at least to associate the face with the name.

Organization Chart. This document shows reporting structures and team members. Usually known as "org-charts" they are usually out of date when published but still a useful resource. Ideally these charts should be annotated with photos of the people as this would be a great way to memorise names and faces.

Newsletters and Annual Reports. Look for publications that include labelled photos of staff. Annual Reports are particularly useful to help you identify members of the management team and board of directors. Imagine what an impression you can make when you greet a director by name and you have yet to be introduced!

Intranet. Does your company have an intranet or online directory? Some organisations have an online directory with a photo. The intranet is often a source of new staff announcements and you should read these carefully. In my company, these announcements are often published a week after the person has started. This is a pity as the power of the introductory article has been lost.

Use all these resources and you will become a corporate name guru. This skill will help you in the work place and your career.

Good luck! Do you have some stories to share? Please add these to the comments.

Friday, October 2, 2009

The DOMINIC system for remembering numbers

Arnold Schwarzenegger - helps me remember the number 16

This article is about a system for remembering numbers devised by Dominic O'Brien - a past World Memory Champion and author of several books on memory.

The technique assigns a person and an action to two digit number pairs. The picture of Arnold Schwarzenegger flexing his muscles is my image for 16. How Schwarzenegger represents 16 will be explained later in the article.

O'Brien light-heartedly named the system the DOMINIC system (Decipherment of Mnemonically Interpreted Numbers Into Characters). I will use this acronym to refer to the technique and the two digit numbers.

How the System Works

The DOMINIC system works by breaking longer numbers into pairs of digits with each pair representing a person performing some action. Numbers are replaced with letters for numbers using the following rules which are easy to remember.
  • The number 0 (zero) becomes O
  • The first five digits (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) become A, B, C, D and E.
  • The number 6 becomes S because the sound is similar and more names begin with S than F.
  • The 7th and 8th letters of the alphabet are G and H (which has some resemblance to 8)
  • The number 9 becomes N because of the similar sound.
It won't take long to learn these substitutions.
  • 0 O
  • 1 A
  • 2 B
  • 3 C
  • 4 D
  • 5 E
  • 6 S
  • 7 G
  • 8 H
  • 9 N
Once you have memorised this list you can proceed to the next step.

Finding Names for Digit Pairs

Write a list from 0 to 99 and review each number in turn after mentally translating the numbers into the DOMINIC letters. Do the initials suggest something to you? The number 20 is BO and this suggested Buddha sitting under the Bo tree. It could also suggest Little Bo Peep minding her sheep.

Usually the number pairs have no meeting or associations. Some exceptions are 07 (James Bond 007), 13 (unlucky- black cat), 21 (21st birthday party), 100 (a century).

Use the first association that comes to mind as this will prove more effective in the long term. The number 11 translates to AA which suggests Andre Agassi hitting tennis balls.

Assigning an Action to the Name

The person you have chosen needs to have an action that is unique on your list of 100 names. Therefore, now you have chosen Andre Agassi for 11, don't use Bjorn Borg for number 22. We don't want two tennis players competing on the list!

The DOMINIC technique separates actions from the person for remembering longer numbers, so your action should be capable of being performed by other people. Choose an action that is distinctive and obvious for the person. What sort of name should you use?

For maximum effectiveness you should use a mixture of famous people as well as your friends and family. Some letters have obvious suggestions such as HO suggesting Santa Claus saying 'Ho Ho Ho!' as he rides his sleigh. I know some Chinese people with the surname of Ho, and I could have used one of them instead with a unique action.

You will probably get stuck trying to think of names for some numbers so have a look at my list for ideas. Only use this as a last resort as my suggestions probably don't have as much meaning for you, unless the name is a public figure with whom you are familar.

Here is a selection of my names and actions.

  • 02 (OB) Obi-Wan Kenobi - Waving light sabre
  • 03 (OC) Oliver Cromwell - Loading musket
  • 09 (ON) Oliver North - Testifying in Court
  • 14 (AD) Jesus - Preaching a sermon
  • 15 (AE) Albert Einstein - writing on a blackboard
  • 16 (AS) Arnold Schwarzenegger - Flexing muscles
  • 22 (BB) Bugs Bunny - Eating a carrot
  • 33 (CC) Charlie Chaplin - swinging the cane and walking
  • 40 (DO) Homer Simpson - Eating donuts
  • 56 (ES) Edward Scissorhands - snipping the bushes with his scissor hands

How to Memorise Two Digits

Imagine you want to remember that your friend lives at number 86. I use the image of Hans Solo (played by Harrison Ford) navigating his space ship to remember the house number, by remembering Hans Solo flying his spaceship into my friend's house. Maybe there is a big crash, the sound of laser cannons or his side-kick Chewbacca.

How to Memorise Three Digit Numbers

Three digit numbers can be remembered by combining the image for the first two digits with the number shape (or number rhyme) for the third digit. For example, the number 224 is a combination of Bugs Bunny eating a carrot and a sailing boat. Imagine Bugs Bunny sailing the boat and eating a carrot. Maybe Bugs Bunny is throwing carrots over the side of the boat.

How to Memorise Four Digit Numbers

A four digit number can be remembered by splitting the number into a pair of two digits. Use the person image for the first number and the action for the second number. For example, if you want to remember 8094, use the DOMINIC numbers 80 (Santa Claus) and (Neil Diamond). My image would be Santa Claus on stage wearing a diamond crusted guitar singing 'Crunchy Granola Suite'.

How to Remember Longer Numbers

Longer numbers can be broken down into a series of two digit numbers and a single digit after decomposing odd numbers. Use a sequence of person, action, person action and make a story from these images.

For example, here is the technique for remembering the phone number 9788 1656 of your local French restaurant. The number becomes 97-88-16-56, Nigella (97 person), tickled by Playboy Bunnies (88 action), Arnold Schwarzenegger (16 person) and cutting bushes with scissorhands (56 action).

Now create a story using these images and associate with the restaurant. For example, Nigella Lawson is seated in the restarant being tickled by Playboy Bunnies. Arnold Schwarzenegger arrives at the restaurant and his arms are like those of Edward Scissorhands. Arnold thumps his way around the restaurant cutting all the flowers with his scissorhands.

I think this story is vivid and easy to remember, compared to the dull sequence of 9788-1656. What do you think?

For more information and examples:

World Memory Championships

For many years I have been interested in developing my memory to remember numbers, facts, names and faces and language.

Lately I have become aware of a sporting event with a difference - a Memory Championship. At first I thought this event would be only of interest to geniuses and geeks, but the "sports" utilise the various memory skills I have written about on this blog.

I first heard of these Memory events through the work of Tony Buzan. You can read more on the World Memory Championships web site. Tony has written many books on Memory as well as Mind Maps.

Jennifer Goddard of the Buzan Centre in Australia has prepared a series of 10 videos to provide insight into how a National Memory Championships is run. These 3-4 minute on-line presentations are suitable for people interested in competing in a memory event, volunteers who help adjudicate and journalists and other people interested in how a memory championships is run.
  1. Random Words
  2. Binary Numbers
  3. Names and Faces
  4. 15 Minute Numbers
  5. 10 Minute Cards
  6. Speed Numbers
  7. Abstract Images
  8. Historical Dates
  9. Spoken Numbers
  10. Speed Cards
Watch the videos here.

Memory Championships held in Europe and you can read about these on the Memory Sports web site run by Florian Delle. Florian recently competed in the Swedish Memory championships.

You may think Memory Championships are for the elite memorizers however the "sports" must be a good way to give the brain a workout. I have never competed in such an event but I am going to have a go at practicing Names and Faces and 10 Minute Cards (memorising the sequence of a shuffled deck of cards).