How do we tackle retaining more complicated information, then? Our visual sense is one of the most powerful tools in our memory bank, and most of its power lies in the fact that it is concrete.
Many of us are already naturally visual learners, so this method comes easily to us. Even if you are more confident using other learning methods, however, you can still sharpen and make use of your visual memory by using the Visualization and Association Method.
Visualization and Association are effective because images are concrete and easy to retain in our mind’s eye, whereas numbers and words are abstract. Think of 10 of your best friends that you’ve had throughout your life. Can you visualize their faces? It’s probably easier than trying to recall their phone numbers, right?
In the Visualization and Association technique, abstract information is assigned a visual image that is easier to file away into, and retrieve from, your long-term memory. Another reason Visualization and Association are effective is because it forces you to focus on and create Original Awareness of what you are memorizing, a concept created by Harry Lorayne, a notable memory guru. Original Awareness basically means your own original understanding of it. Only after you have actively engaged with something by focusing on it and approaching it from different angles to find your own meaning can you fully understand it. Then you are ready to turn it into an image that is meaningful, thus memorable, to you.
Visualization and Association also work because you are encouraged to repeat the image many times over when you are coming up with an image. Repetition, as we all know, cements things in our minds.
Say you are trying to remember what the Stegosaurus looked like. You might break the name up like this: Steg-o-sau-rus and start associating each section of the word to images that will help you visualize the beast in question, just as you would in Charades.
‘Steg’ sounds a little like steak, so imagine a juicy steak. The Stegosaurus actually has plates on its back that resemble steaks, so now you have a vivid image of a beast with steaks sticking out of its back. ‘o-sau-rus’ sounds like ‘Oh! Saw us!’ which is what a frightened caveman might exclaim to his friend, should this scary steak-laden beast turn towards them. It’s an absurd but powerful image that sticks in our minds like glue!
Tips on using Visualization and Association effectively:
- Make the image very big, or very small – size does matter in this instance
- Make the image as absurd as possible – the sillier, the better
- Animate the image with actions
- Create a little a story with the image, if possible
The concept of Visualization and Association is actually the basis of many of the other mnemonic devices as it is so powerful. It takes a little practice at first, but once you get the hang of it, it will become second nature to you.
Try It Out
Break up the following words and use V&A on them:
Test yourself a few days later, no cheating!
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