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To memorize better block your eyes and ears.

January 21, 2010

I should have know better and never stop using my 30DB ear mufflers as well as a black taped eye glasses or eye protectors in order to develop a Superb Memory. From time to time some article reminds me that the less noise you have at  input, the better your overall learning experience results.

Dr. Gunter Karsten at the 2008 World Memory Championships

The number one cause of forgetting is not learning in the first place, a nice article on the topic concludes:

Dividing your attention can be enough to prevent you from detecting and paying attention to the relevant information. If you add stress, then your ability to detect what is relevant is compromised because it acts as a form of interference that prevents you from: (1) Paying attention (2) Determining what is relevant (3) Paying attention to what is relevant and ultimately encoding it. You cannot forget something you have not encoded in the first place! Each stage of memory is vulnerable to stress (i.e. consolidation and retrieval) and importantly, stress is not always an external influence on memory, what goes on in our mind can be a very potent source of stress interference.

This article included three tests about memorizing a list of 6 objects in different circumstances, how did I do on these tests? It took me 15 seconds on the first one (single task), 22 seconds on the second test (while tapping my leg with my hand), and 36 seconds on the last one (while repeating “Bla, Bla, Bla…”). Dam… I really should, at least, start wearing again those earmuffs.  I don’t want to loose the opportunity of learning more, just because I’m wasting more the double the time necessary for memorizing.

I have a good pair of ear mufflers, but my eye protectors are not black taped… yet! Remember a Superb Memory requires tools!

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. LittleFish permalink
    January 22, 2010 18:33

    I never thought of using ear mufflers to force myself to block out sound. Often I listen to light music as I review SM…

  2. LittleFish permalink
    January 23, 2010 20:47

    The more I think about it, it sounds like a good idea; I’m picking up a pair tomorrow.

  3. gersapa permalink*
    January 23, 2010 21:14

    When you do it, let me know it affects you recall.

    Because of your common or at least not so uncommon practice of having some music in the background, I believe a post on context dependency of memory is mandatory.

    I think that if the information you wish to learn has no dependency on some especial context where you need to recall it, then is more important to enjoy the learning process per se in the long run.

    This article reminded me about using me ear mufflers because, I’ll be taking big exam again and hence the context where I’ll take it is most probably going to be quiet.

    The fact that tapping lead to the worse encoding time makes me notice that I should stop tapping my fingers on the desk, let alone having a TV on, close to my SuperMemo, ever.

    I’ll definitively look forward to your feedback on this issue.

  4. LittleFish permalink
    January 25, 2010 13:53

    I purchased a cheap pair at Home Depot, a large hardware store (They were only $15). I used them a bit this morning, but I didn’t have enough time to do all of my repetitions. Initial impression is that it feels like you are in a different room, separate from everything else going on around you. I like it. Once I use them a bit more, I’ll post more detailed results.

  5. Xbrog permalink
    January 25, 2010 15:25

    I’m buying on this one to, sounds like a good idea.

  6. LittleFish permalink
    January 26, 2010 08:37

    I’m getting used to using them; it makes it easier to turn your attention into a “spotlight.” Usually when I use Supermemo I get mildly distracted every five or ten minutes; I start to hum along with the song I’m listening to, tap my fingers to the beat, my mind wanders, etc. It only lasts for a few seconds, and I focus back on Supermemo again; but when using the earmuffs I seem to be having less and less trouble staying focused for long periods of time. Maybe this is because I know I am conducting an experiment and I am changing my actions to suit the desired result, so time will tell if this is really helping or not. I think this is a good idea. Thanks for posting this.

    • gersapa permalink*
      January 26, 2010 08:49

      I believe many of us have that kind of experience, by lowering the auditory distractions you can concentrate better. It feels less tired to. I think is more time effective doing repetitions on 20 min (or up to 30min) time periods, followed by 5 min breaks. Helps me a lot, but as I posted, I having been doing it for a while. Happy it helps you,

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