The 4 Best Exercises For Improving Memory

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform summary of "Moonwalking With Einstein" by Joshua Foer. Shortform has the world's best summaries of books you should be reading.

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Are you looking for great exercises for improving memory? Do you want to improve your memory techniques using skills from top memory experts?

These exercises for improving memory are ones used by top memory champs, including Moonwalking With Einstein author Josh Foer.

Try out these exercises for improving memory, and see if you can develop some great techniques.

Memory Improvement Exercises

What are the best exercises for improving memory? These activities to improve memory can help you practice memory techniques and have a stronger memory.

1. Create Memorable Images

In the first of the exercises for improving memory, you’ll focus on image. Our brains are naturally good at remembering images. Transform information into visuals in order to remember it better.

Write down the first three items on your to-do lists. (If you don’t currently have a to-do list, you can use this example: 1) buy milk, 2) make a dentist appointment, 3) bake a cake.)

How would you transform the first to-do on your list into an image? Remember that the image will be more memorable if it’s multisensory, funny, lewd, novel, concrete, and personal.

How would you transform the second item into an image?

How would you transform the third?

Now, picture all three images. What original piece of information does each correspond to?

2. Place Images in Your Memory Palace

Next on the list of activities to improve memory is creating your memory palace. Our brains are naturally good at remembering places. Mentally place images into a memory of a real place in order to remember those images better. This is one of the exercises for improving memory of images.

Think of a place you know very well, such as your childhood home. Picture it in your mind. What are some important locations in it? Consider the bottom of the driveway, front porch, shower, and so on.

Recall the three images you created in the last exercise. Mentally place each of them in a significant location of your memory palace.

From memory, without looking at the answers to the previous questions, write down the route through your memory palace, noting where and when you come across the images you placed in it.

3. Employ the Major System

The major system is a method for remembering numbers. This is one of the most important exercises for improving memory. Here’s a review of the system:

  • 0=S
  • 1=T/D
  • 2=N
  • 3=M
  • 4=R
  • 5=L
  • 6=Sh/Ch
  • 7=K/G
  • 8=F/V
  • 9=P/B

What letters does the number 33 correspond to? How can you add vowels to turn these letters into a word?

How can you transform this word into an image?

What letters does the number 1548 correspond to? How can you add vowels to turn these letters into a word, or into multiple words?

How can you transform the word or words into an image?

Recall the two images you came up with. What numbers do they correspond to?

4. Employ the PAO System

The PAO system is another one of the important activities to improve memory. It involves coming up with combinations of people, actions, and objects and assigning them to numbers or cards in order to create images.

Write down a sentence that involves a person acting on an object. (For example, an option might be Michael Phelps swimming in a pool.) Visualize this scene. It will represent the number 11.

Write down a sentence that involves a different person performing a different action on a different object. Visualize this scene. It will represent the number 22.

Write down a sentence that involves another person acting on an object. Visualize this scene. It will represent the number 33.

Consider the number 223311. Write down the person from your number 22 sentence, the action from your number 33 sentence, and the object from your number 11 sentence. What do you come up with? Picture the scene in your mind.

Recall your image. What number does it correspond to?

You can go back to these exercises for improving memory anytime, and look for more methods.

The 4 Best Exercises For Improving Memory

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best summary of Joshua Foer's "Moonwalking With Einstein" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full Moonwalking With Einstein summary:

  • The memory techniques that took the author from novice to US memory champion in one year
  • The 6 key types of memory we use everyday
  • Why memory isn't just genetic, and how you can improve your memory with the right techniques

Carrie Cabral

Carrie has been reading and writing for as long as she can remember, and has always been open to reading anything put in front of her. She wrote her first short story at the age of six, about a lost dog who meets animal friends on his journey home. Surprisingly, it was never picked up by any major publishers, but did spark her passion for books. Carrie worked in book publishing for several years before getting an MFA in Creative Writing. She especially loves literary fiction, historical fiction, and social, cultural, and historical nonfiction that gets into the weeds of daily life.

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