Photographic memory is a term used to describe a person who can recall visual information in great details. It’s often confused with eidetic memory, an ability to vividly recall images from memory after only a few instances of exposure. If memory worked just like a photograph, these folks would have the ability to quickly reproduce the written text in reverse order by reading the photo. However, people can’t do this.
In most photographic memory books the techniques used are to help people develop memory skills. Not through capturing a mental picture of what they see, but learning certain tricks to make recalling the information possible
There are different ways people train their memory. For example, most children memorized the alphabet by singing the alphabet song. The idea of setting the letter to music made it more fun to learn than simply through repetition.
Not All Books Teach Same Photographic Memory Habits
People learn on different levels, people learn to train their memories through different methods. When someone writes photographic memory books they write about the techniques that have worked for them and a few others. People on the same learning skill level can probably use these P.M. books to improve their information retention skills.
However, another person may not realize the same success and may find other P.M. books, written from a different perspective to more beneficial. Unfortunately, there are no one size fits all P.M. books that can supply the same level of help for everyone.
Many people with excellent memory use elaborate techniques to assist them to remember. While others can very easily recall huge amounts of autobiographical information spanning the majority of the lifetime. Improving a person’s memory is high on the list of many individuals and there have even been drugs and natural remedies claiming to help improve memory. But they do not have the same positive impact on everyone similar to photographic memory books.
Maybe you are a bit doubtful in using association as memory techniques that you have learned from books or online websites. You might not believe that it’s important that every time you need to memorize certain information, you need to create silly association between two pieces of data. This method is proven effective, and it’s also employed by psychologists who are experts in studying human memory. Memory works effectively through association, and we’re simply expanding of this information to help us recall things effectively.
Here are some characteristics of memory:
1. Memory is Recent (Memory Techniques)
We are more likely to recall things when they have occurred recently than those that happened for quite a long time. There is a great possibility that you recall what you had for breakfast today, but not what you ate two months ago.
2. Memory is Clear (Memory Techniques)
There is a great possibility that we recall events that are most clear or those events that leave lasting impressions than events that are ordinary. You can possibly remember what you did on your wedding anniversary, or perhaps the World Trade Center collapse, but not what happened a day before that event unless they are quite striking too.
3. Memory is Frequent (Memory Techniques)
We are able to recall things that we experience often, rather than those we experience very seldom. We are more likely to recall your friend’s name or his phone number if you are really good friends rather than the waist line of Britney Spears unless you are an avid fan.
What about the clear property of memory? Well, when we need to recall two words such as flower and rake, we might think of using a rake to clean the surroundings of a flower. Or it can also be: if a little boy comes to a table which you are happily eating your meal, carry a rake. He then lifts up and shove the rake right into the vase with a flower! Now which of these two images can help you to remember easily? The second one will be more effective because it is more clear and vivid. The rule of thumb is: the funnier the better.
For short-term memory, such as recalling the time for your dental check-up or the name of the priest to contact for your child’s baptism, simply do nothing. This is because we don’t need this kind of information permanently and eventually we can forget them.
For long-term memories, such as recalling trivia quizzes, contact numbers, security policy number etc, you should make some extra effort to go over these things because you need them for permanent retrieval. You can do this several times in a day. Then remember the new data at least once a day for a few weeks. By the end of this period, the objects you recall will be permanently retained in your brain.
Develop Your Photographic Memory
When training yourself to get photographic memory, the first, and most important step is to make sure that your eyes are relaxed. If you’re working with your eye muscles engaged, then you will have a lot of difficulty using your peripheral vision, effectively taking away sixty percent of your field of vision. To relax your eyes, hold your head still and move them slowly up and down, then left to right, and try to keep your mind clear. In about ten seconds or so, you should feel your face and eyes loosen up and be ready for action.
One of the keys to training a photographic memory is to make very effective use of your peripheral vision, and to see the whole picture of things by expanding your field of view. Taking a wide lens when you look at a diagram allows you to take in the whole thing, and see more of the image. Instead of focusing on a detail, try to space out your eyes and focus on a single space, but to look out through the edges of your eyes and see the perimeter. This is something that many people trying to get photographic memory struggle with, because it doesn’t seem logical to pick up details without focusing on them, but it does work.
The Best Way to Get Photographic Memory
The next trick is entirely mental, and that makes it very hard for some people to do, but it is the essence of how to get photographic memory. When you are focusing on an image, no matter where you see it, fix it in your mind, and see the whole thing using the power of your peripheral vision. Then, in order to get it wholly in your visual spectrum of memory, you need to start changing the image in your mind.
Imagine a dial that allows you to turn up the brightness and contrast of the image to a point where every detail on the page becomes defined and visible in detail.
Use your TV to get photographic memory
If you have trouble with this at first, don’t worry. It takes a whole lot of practice to develop photographic memory. Some people are born with the tools to do this, while others need to work at it.
One of the easiest ways to learn this last step is to play with your television. Put in a movie with a vibrant, busy setting, preferably a wide-view scene, and pause it. Then use the menu to scan through and change the brightness and contrast settings while focusing in on the picture with your eyes. If you have trouble recalling the details now, that’s fine. All you’re doing here is seeing what this process might look like if you were to do it mentally.
It seems my post on memory techniques for studying prompted few questions about ways to improve your long term memory. Personally, I like a challenge, and I don’t particularly like working on things like this. So, I like to turn to memory games to help memory, particularly for long term memory help.
There are simple card games to help memory you can play. This is a very basic game that I think that almost everyone has played at some point or another.
Memory Games – Crosswords Puzzles
Crossword puzzles are a very good way to improve long term memory. Instead of trying to play them in the newspaper everyday, it’s often a much better idea to get a collection of old crossword puzzles. This will not change in difficulty if you buy an “Easy” edition, which is nice since newspaper crosswords are easy on Monday, and then get progressively harder each day. Sunday crosswords are nearly impossible to do.
Crosswords are nice for games to help improve long term memory since they require you to remember old actors or movies, historical situations, figure out roman numerals, vocabulary, common (or uncommon) phrases, and book authors. These are also really good ways for you to improve your analytical abilities.
Games to Help Memory – Too Hard?
Sometimes people get upset with crosswords as a game to help memory because they are very difficult. If you do get a book, like I recommend, then you will always have the answers right there for you to check and use in case you get stuck. Filling out a single long clue can often give you the help you need to fill in others. Don’t get mad at them, use them for what they are, and remember that if you’re struggling with them, that’s when they’re helping you the most.
If you need more games to help memory, check out a local game store like Toys R Us or something similar. Any kind of trivia game will suffice, as will a handheld game like Bop It.
There are four basic techniques to memorize things that I know about. They are both good for different purposes, so you should try to learn each.
The Locus Ways to Memorize Things
The first method is called the Locus Method of memorization, and it’s really good for sequential lists. The basic idea of the locus method is that it plays off of your mind’s ability to remember real-life images more easily than words or bits of knowledge.
The basic methodology is to think about a car trip that you’ve taken about a million times before; one in which you know the area so well that you could conceivably drive it in your sleep. Visualize yourself driving down the road, and think about the landmarks that you always see. You might remember a stop sign, for instance, followed by a mailbox, and then a school on the left hand side, a parked car that always seems to be there, and so forth. People walking down the street might not be a good landmark since they always move around, and they’re not always in the same place.
Once you have this set of landmarks in sequential order, start tying them to the steps in whatever list you have. The first item on the list should be tied to the first landmark you pass, the second should be tied to the second landmark. Make sure you have enough landmarks to get through every item on your list.
Once you’ve done that, imagine some connection between the event and the landmark. It can, and probably should be kind of absurd, since that will help you tie the information together better. For example, using the information I used above, I might remember the following connections between landmarks and things if I were trying to recall the order of events in the discovery of America.
The Musical Ways to Memorize Things
The second trick is to put information to song. This is a very phenomenal way to remember small bits of information or formulas. Because, we have an incredible amount of knowledge about music stored away in our brains. If I were to ask you to recall lyrics to any of your favorite songs, you’d pause for a moment, and then be able to start up from almost any point in the song and recite the lyric word for word. There are some fantastic examples of this kind of information available on Youtube, and many songs already made up and ready for your use.
When I tutored a student in math, and he needed to remember a complex formula like the Quadratic Formula. I typed it into Youtube and found literally hundreds of options for catchy tunes like this, this and this. Should you not find anything pre-made for you, don’t despair, you can put the information to any song you’d like. And you don’t need to perform or record it to have memorized it if you use a simple folk song like “Three Blind Mice” or “Yankee Doodle”.
The Relative Information Way to Memorize Things
The third trick is good for information that simply needs to be remembered without having to be in any order. First, list the words or bits of information in any order you’d like, and then imagine a relationship between the two things like you did for the locus method I described above. Again, silly and absurd things tend to work really well. If you need to remember a list of foods for instance, you might imagine one kind of food eating the other. You could start with a cucumber, and then imagine a sausage walking by, picking up the cucumber and stuffing it in it’s mouth. Then, a moment later, an onion walks by and eats the sausage (remember, weird tends to work really well, and the more vivid and wild your imagination can get, the better off you’ll be in remembering this kind of information).
To this day, this method is probably my number one favorite. I can remember things that I memorized from my childhood using this method that I haven’t used in years. For example, I haven’t taken a martial arts lesson in over 10 years; but I still remember when I had to memorize pattern names and meanings, and I know that my last pattern was called “Joong Gun” and had 32 moves, and had something to do with Confucianism. The image in my head is a little Chinese man sitting in his house watching TV (tuned to channel 32), and chewing gum (which is close to the pronunciation of the pattern name “Joong Gun”).
The Anagram Ways to Memorize Things
The fourth method, and one of the weaker ones, is to remember things in an anagram. Something such as “Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally” or simply “PEMDAS” helps students to remember the order of operations in math class. Creating this kind of list has been helpful to me from time to time. But, I can specifically remember a whole lot of these little catchy anagrams that I simply cannot relate to any information.
For instance, I know that “All the Animals in Macedonia Really Don’t Like Apples” which I came up with in college for one test, but I don’t know what I’m supposed to be recalling thanks to that. I can remember using “Candy and Popcorn Make Us Real Skinny Boys” for a psychology class, but again, what it is I was supposed to have remembered don’t come immediately to mind. Therefore, I tend to think that this method is very overutilized, and should be used only if you’ve already got a very powerful memory anyways.
The Rote Repetition Way to Memorize Things
Say what you will about this methodology, it works. The idea is simply to find a way to do something over and over again; and with concentration and the help of a little muscle memory, you can memorize almost anything. This method is also useful for memorizing lines and short paragraphs, although for longer monologues, it probably isn’t ideal.
This method is very good for learning vocabulary, spelling, and anything that’s related to language in general. For single vocabulary words, writing the complete list time and again is a good way to do it. But, it is probably better for you to break the list into groups of four or five words, and write them down one at a time, and then repeat three times. Use a pen and paper rather than a computer for the writing. As you write, create a visual image in your mind and repeat the definition of each word as you go; (Remember, visual images are the most powerful and easiest to recall). Once you’ve got these four or five words down pat, move on to the next group.
It may be boring, but this is a good method of memorization, and has the advantage of teaching you definitions in all three of your basic learning styles at once if you follow my instruction. Your kinesthetic sense will be stimulated by the act of writing. Your visual sense will find solace in the mental images you create. And, if you sound out the words as you write, then you’re engaging your auditory sense as well.
There are a variety of different ways to memorize things. Select a method of memorization that works for the types of information you plan on memorizing.
No matter what you’re doing though, there are similarities in every method. First and foremost, it helps to add an element of visualization to your practice. That is a common theme in all kinds of memorization; and because it’s completely in your mind, many people simply forget about it completely, and that is a huge mistake. Regardless of how strong your visual element is, all humans have the ability to recall visual elements, real or imaginary. You’ll have a lot of problems trying to get interested in information if you treat it like nothing instead of keeping it active in your mind.
The second element to memorization, and one that is often lost of students alike, is that sleep is important. During sleep, your brain “catches up” with what you’ve done during the day; filing information away and making sense of what you learned, and helping you prepare for the following day. Without enough sleep, you cannot hope to remember anything. No matter how long you work on memorizing things the day previous.
So choose wisely, and practice whatever you do. These different ways to memorize things are all real, and they all work.