Matt from 30Vanquish wrote that he's studied memory in the past and gotten quite a bit out of it, and he was kind enough to share some of his observations with us. Here's Matt -
So are you frustrated when you forget someone's phone number? Or when you forget one item to buy when you're at the grocery?
Well the reasons for forgetting aren't really forgetting.
It's more about interference.
The interference theory suggests that we are unable to remember memories, things, and events we encoded due to interference with other encoded memories, things, and events.
There are three types of interference:
-proactive - you can't retrieve new info because old encoded information interferes.
-retroactive - you can't retrieve old info because new encoded information interferes.
-output - you can't retrieve general info because specific encoded information interferes.
Proactive: When you can't quite remember the name of that new person you were introduced to because you met someone else that had a similar name a few days ago.
Retroactive: When you can't quite remember the name of that person you met a few days ago because you met someone else today that had a similar name.
Output: If you remember the person's name, then you don't recall exactly where it was.
If A is a new event and B is an older event,
Proactive: A cannot be recalled due to B.
Retroactive: B cannot be recalled due to A.
So this is the leading theory as to why some things are on the tip of our tongues when we want to recall the grocery list, the name of that person we just met, information for an exam, or a phone number.
So knowing this, there are ways to enhance the memory.
Have a good social life, with lots of laughter.
Have a good sleeping pattern.
Have a good diet with omega-3, fruits, vegetables.
Then there's the mnemonic devices.
- Chunking - This makes it easier to remember a phone number. Think of the number sequence 5-6-2-4 as 5,624.
- Visual Association - Maybe someone's name that starts with G and they have green eyes? Use the green eyes as a cue.
- Acronym - HOMES = the names of the US Great Lakes. (Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior)
- Location - Think of where you put all your food when you've forgotten a grocery list.
Now that you understand interference and mnemonic devices, you'll be able to reduce the amount of forgetting in your life.
Last tip of the day: When you're studying for an exam, be a bit stressed, since it's known to help with memorizing things. However, the moment you're taking the exam, calm down. Stress during retrieval of the facts you studied over reduces performance.
Therefore, add a little stress when taking in the data.
Be stress free when retrieving the data.
Thanks Matt! Wow... some good insights. This one is quite dense - it's only 400 words, and there's a ton of information in here. I'd encourage you to give it another read-through if you didn't pick it all up, particularly the parts about forgetting due to interference.
Great post here, thanks Matt. You can find him at http://30vanquish.com/
Finally got around to Taleb's "Black Swan" on audio. Hadn't gone through it before because the core concept seems pretty obvious and straightforward, but it's actually packed with interesting stuff.
"Retroactive determinism," for instance, was a phrase just tossed out once and thrown away -- but it's a useful addition to a vocabulary.
It describes how things seem obvious in retrospect. You meet someone successful, so you credit their long work hours, or alternatively their laziness which makes them desire to find more efficient ways, their healthy diet, or their laid-back ways without focus on things like that.
Retroactive determinism says that people say things were automatic and obvious afterwards, but oftentimes what they say caused the event -- long hours, or laziness/efficiency combo -- might not be it at all, and probably isn't.
"Black Swan" is good. Recommended.
this post about what I know to be true
In this past election, I did something I now really regret: I voted 'yes' to Proposition 30.