Book Notes: "Your Memory: How it Works and How to Improve It"
I read this book because I’ve been thinking quite a lot about how to memorise Chinese characters effectively again lately. I had much success with the Heisig method and still generally recommend it but I was curious to see if I can find ways to improve it.
Best method depends on circumstances:
- How knowledgeable are you at the topic already?
- What material are you trying to remember?
- How will remembering be measured? (recognition vs. recall)
- What kind of remembering? (Rote remembering vs. applying understanding)
- How long will you need to remember?
Three stages of memory:
Chunking information can increase short-term memory capacity.
Three types of long-term memory:
- Procedural (how to do something)
- Semantic (factual information)
- Episodic (personal events)
Access to long-term memory goes through short-term memory (bottleneck).
Measures of memory:
Memory is a matter of degree, you sometimes only remember parts.
Memory is generative not duplicative. Recalling something is a process of reconstruction.
Information may be stored in different ways (auditory/visual/meaning)
How do we forget?
- Distortion (remembering what we want to remember)
- Cue dependency
Concrete words may be processed differently from abstract words.
You’re more likely to remember word plus image than just one of the two.
Sleep learning/subliminal learning are probably bogus.
Basic principles: meaningfulness, familiarity, rhymes, patterns, organisation, association, visualisation, attention
More principles: repetition, relaxation (anxiety hinders recall), context (setting), interest, feedback
Recite what you’re learning without looking at it.
Study systems should be:
- Based on effective strategies
- Help you identify & understand important parts
- Help you remember those parts
- Be more efficient than learning by rote
- Easy to learn
Can be visual (picturing information) or verbal (making associations with words).
Keyword mnemonic to learn foreign vocab (make association with sound of foreign word, connect the two with a visual mnemonic).
Making visual associations effective:
- Interaction (the parts of the image should interact)
- Vividness (motion, substitution, exaggeration)
- Bizarreness (unique, novel)
Using images for abstract concepts:
- Substitute concrete images (liberty bell for liberty, a judge for justice)
- Substitute a similar sounding word (celery for salary)
Can help in three ways as a mental filing system:
- Gives you a way to locate the first item
- Gives you a way to locate successive items
- Tells you when you’ve reached the last item
The Link System: encode items with visual images, link items by forming visual associations
The Story System: combine items into a story
Useful for lists, speeches
The Loci System: memory palaces
The Peg System: use pegwords to memorize abstract information
The Phonetic System: associate consonants with digits, memorize numbers by adding vowels to make words
Can be used to make a mental filing system