Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Mnemonics, mnemonics, mnemonics and how I rote how I hate rote.

Mnemonics were on my mind (haha).
They are what got me through Anatomy & Physiology, medical terminology and gross anatomy. I wanted to be a doctor but work with computers now. Another story.
Now these Mnemonics follow laws as anything that is predicable does. The ability to predict that you will recall from your brain matter is important from the trivial up to the vital. I read a book that changed the way I learned. In public school (or publik skrewal as I call it) we all learned the rote way to memorize information. We would cram and cram until it became torture, hence the firm believe in most children that learning the sciences is not fun. There had to be a better way to learn.

Then I realized something after reading The Memory Book in college.
Anything you can associate with something you already know or remember, in a ridiculous way, you remember permanently.  
Key words: associate, ridiculous and permanently. Here is why these words are key.

When we seek to memorize information we tie two pieces of information together. Now our brain does not store easily receivable information in the form of words in some neat database. The brain stores this information as visual images, moving or still.

If you were to look into the sky and see a rainbow colored blimp that looked like a tree, that occupies 3/4 of the sky, moving past the speed of sound and rotating so fast you has trouble following it with your eyes, you would remember it to your dying day. 

OK, so how do we tie two pieces of information together so we can predict it's recall when when we need it the most? 
This is you remembering without Mnemonics.

We have talked about Association, Ridiculousness and  Permanentness. How do they tie together?
Anything you can associate with something you already know or remember, in a ridiculous way, you will remember permanently.
There are four ways to do this successfully.
Before you apply them you must choose two nouns that describe as simply as possible your piece of information. This is your tag or handle to the rest of the information.
The four laws:
1. Action (rotate the noun, speed it up, flip it fast, make it go super sonic)
2. Substitution (transpose the two noun's physical shape and or function in the real world)
3. Proliferation (make as many of it as possible)
4. Exaggeration (make it extremely large)
The most important thing here is NOT to make it logical. You want to create something that your mind has NEVER seen before.
You are carried to school by a HUGE (Exaggeration) ferret flying past the speed of sound and rotating, keeping you barely in the basket it has between it's jaws (Action). As you look to your right and left you see that all of your friends from school are doing the same but your school friends are the huge speed of sound breaking and rotating hairy creatures with blotched fur and a tail! (Proliferation and Substitution). 

Secret! below - highlight for the secret...
In Latin, 'Ferrent' means 'to carry'.
You just learned a Latin word by reading an interesting story your brain probably took about 20 seconds to fully visualize.

You see, your brain does not work like a computer where data is written to a specific location and then recalled when a certain function is preformed. We are not machines. Our brains are immensely powerful novelty-seeking storage device that can store information that some say exceeds the atoms in the known universe. According to conventional biology, the human brain has an average of 100 billion neurons, and 100 trillion synapse connections. Azagaroth from this website has much more information if you wish for more information on those numbers. With this in mind (haha another brain joke) the visual cortex occupies a relatively substantial portion of our brain. Therefore, we should use this to our advantage. Once you master this technique, using this method during a test will seem like cheating. 

On a personal note, in anatomy and physiology, it took me 10 minutes to take a 2 hour test and got an A using this. 
This was before the internet and cell phones...