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Visual Memory

 Our brains have a unique ability to use imagery as a means to remember numbers, names, facts and textbook material in long-term memory.  So, by simply visualizing something you are able to many times retain the information for a long period of time.

In his book Moonwalking with Einstein, Joshua Foer describes the visual techniques he developed to remember the order of two packs of cards in the span of five minutes.  It was part of his participation in the U.S. Memory Championship. Foer would mentally translate each card in the deck into a vivid image, for example: Dom DeLuise hula hooping or Rhea Perlman flirting. Each represented a card he saw. Foer then placed these images into a familiar setting, for example: the rooms in his home. Then by walking through the front door, he’d retrace his steps to the back bedroom with each of these characters lined up. Thus, the order of the cards could be extracted.

Usually this technique, Foer was able to memorize 9 1/2 decks of cards in an hour with total recall. And the same process can be used to memorize other lists. The current record holder for memorizing the digits of pi is Chao Lu, who memorized 67,890 digits over a 24-hour period. Many of the mental athletes (as they call themselves) have normal memories. Foer himself still loses his car keys and forgets important dates. Yet, using visualization techniques when directed at a specific task can yield amazing results.

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