Train Your Brain Like a Memory Champion - The New York Times
Wed Jan 16 08:12:47 2019 - permalink -
In the psychology world, there’s a strange example of how these tricks work, called the “Baker/baker paradox.” After showing subjects the same photograph of a man’s face, the researchers tell half the participants his surname, Baker, and the other half his occupation, a baker. Days later, the subjects were more likely to remember the man’s occupation than his name. This plays to the sensory nature of memory. Upon hearing the man was a baker, the brain immediately springs into action, creating or recalling vast neural networks of what we’ve associated with the title: fresh bread, a white hat and apron, or perhaps someone standing in front of a patisserie, greeting children with delicious sweets.
3419108550 is more manageable when written, or recited, as 341-910-8550. Credit card numbers are also chunked, as is your Social Security number.
Mr. Foer detailed an acquaintance that had never formally been taught to chunk information, but used the technique to remember numbers by associating them with his hobby, running. “For example, 3,492 was turned into ‘3 minutes and 49 point 2 seconds, [a] near world-record mile time.’” For most of us, this is probably no easier than remembering the number itself. But for a runner, it’s a different story.
There’s nothing, physiologically speaking, separating memory athletes from people who forget where their keys are or can’t remember what they had for breakfast this morning. The difference is in the training methods, and the time spent in mastering them.