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How's your memory?

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Anne McNaught | 16:24 UK time, Thursday, 30 September 2010

And how could wrapping your kettle in sticky tape, being chased down the road by a giant eyeball, and then assaulted by an avalanche of Creme Eggs possibly help?

Welcome to the surreal world of Brainsmart... and instant enhanced memory power!

BBC Brainsmart is all about understanding how your brain works, and how to make the most of it. And last weekend BBC Scotland's Learning team were out in force at the Glasgow Science Centre's 'A Celebration of Science', sharing the knowledge...


...and causing no end of frustration, pencil chewing and forehead slapping. There were many laughs and moments of total surreality as the visitors took part in a simple memory experiment, and then learned some quick ways to improve their score radically.

There's a healthy lifestyle message to memory - if you eat well, exercise properly, and sleep plenty, your memory will definitely benefit. But that takes a bit of time. For a much more rapid whoomph in your test scores, you need to get a secret system going...

Children being taught memory techniques.

Here's what we did. First, each visitor had their arm twisted to play a round of Kim's Game. Some people got full marks, but most didn't. They were then taught one of two simple but very effective techniques for remembering things like this. Either using the linking system which involves creating an unforgettable story, or the loci system which cements the objects in your imagination to a series of places you already know.

Both techniques require you to unleash your imagination and stop worrying about whether you sound like a crazy person, so it can take a moment or two ... But when they'd got the hang of the new technique, they were presented with another 15 objects to memorise. Mostly, scores went up, and people were amazed. Ok, not always, sometimes people already had their own memory system and the new one was a distraction. But that's fine - whatever works, works. The main thing is to have confidence that you can do it. It was great to see people of all ages so enthusiastic, and the place buzzing with memory talk.

Anyone who was up for another challenge was then shepherded along for an online memory game.

Here they are - you can try for yourself:

Name that name (faces and names)
Objects in order (lists)
Name that number (pictures and numbers)

And if you feel you could improve, here are a couple of techniques that will help.

How to remember faces
Remembering numbers

Finally, if you're the sort of person who lies in bed at night and suddenly remembers a dozen things you need to do tomorrow... but can never quite make it out of bed to get a pen and paper, have a look at this. Take an imaginary walk in your mind and create memorable images of what you need to remember. For example: need to buy a new mattress? Imagine your front door has turned into one, and you bounce off it every time you try to get in the house. You may feel you're turning into a nutter... but it works!



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