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Mentalrobics™

You exercise your body to stay physically in shape, so why shouldn't you exercise your brain to stay mentally fit? With these daily exercises you will learn how to flex your mind, improve your creativity and boost your memory. As with any exercise, repetition is necessary for you to see improvement, so pick your favorite exercises from our daily suggestions and repeat them as desired. Try to do some mentalrobics every single day!

Eyewitnesses have notoriously bad memories. Many studies have been conducted where a group of people watch a simulated crime and are then asked to describe the details of the event. It is very rare for the criminal to be described accurately. Perhaps this is because people always have a difficult time describing a face, even if it is right in front of them. Faces do not have features that can be easily articulated with vocabulary that we posses. How would you describe your own nose to someone over the phone?

Police use artists and kits full of different face parts to help witnesses piece together a face. Even with this help, an accurate portrayal of the suspect is rarely achieved. In fact, two eyewitnesses to the same crime often produce wildly different portraits. Perhaps this is because memory can get distorted under stress, or maybe it is because when people are trying hard to remember something, they will sometimes fabricate a false memory to satisfy themselves and their questioner.

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The Phonetic Mnemonic System is one of the most useful systems for helping you memorize facts. Here are some sample facts that you can easily memorize using this system.

1. The tallest building in the world is Taipei 101, in Taiwan. It is 509 meters tall. Using the phonetic system, the number 509 translates to 'lazy boy'. Picture a lazyboy chair balanced on the spire sticking out of the top of the building, or picture a very lazy boy taking a week to walk up the stairs to the top. Now, you can easily remember the height of the building.

2. On the periodic table, iron (Fe) has an atomic number of 26 which has the phonetic word of 'notch'. Picture yourself trying to iron your clothes using an iron with a big notch cut into it.

3. The speed of sound is 340 meters per second. The phonetic keyword for 340 is 'Mars'. Think up your own association between 'sound' and 'Mars' to remember this fact.

4. World War II started in 1939. You can use any of the following keywords: Top Mop, Tie Pump or if you ignore the century you can simply use 'map'. Pick your favorite keyword and associate it with the war.

These are just some simple examples showing how easy it is to use the phonetic mnemonic system to more easily memorize facts. Try making up some on your own.

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We have already learned how the phonetic mnemonic system can be used to remember playing cards. Once you learn this, here is an interesting trick that you can perform for your friends and family.

Deck Memorization
Have your friend shuffle the deck. Now, go through the cards and use the link system to link each card to its neighbor. For example, if the ten of diamonds (keyword=dice) is adjacent to the two of hearts (keyword=hen), you could form a visual association of a hen laying some dice instead of eggs. With practice you should be able to go through the entire deck in a few minutes. Now you can recite the entire deck from memory by going through your link list and remembering the keywords.

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We have already learned how the phonetic mnemonic system can be used to remember playing cards. Once you learn this, here is an interesting trick that you can perform for your friends and family.

The Missing Card
Ask someone to remove one card from the deck. You are going to look through the deck once and then tell them the missing card. As you are looking through the deck you need to modify each card keyword as you come to it. Form a mental association with this modification. For example, the keyword for the 8 of clubs is 'cave'. You could picture the roof of a cave caving in. The keyword for the 4 of hearts is 'hair'. You could picture your friend with his hair on fire. Once you have looked through the deck and modified each keyword, run through the deck in your mind. The one keyword that has not been modified represents the card that was removed.

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One of the big problems with the loci mnemonic system is that you cannot retrieve an item directly from the middle of the list. You usually have to start at one end of the list and work your way in. The following trick will help you quickly jump through a long list.

You are going to attach numerical waypoints to specific locations in your loci system. For example, you could associate a five-dollar bill to the fifth location and your ten toes to the tenth location. When you make your associations you will need to incorporate all three items into one visualization.

For example, if your fifth location is the bathroom sink, and the fifth errand you are trying to remember is to pick up the dry cleaning, you could picture yourself washing a five-dollar bill in the sink. Linking all three items together will allow you to jump directly to that location in your list. If you want to jump to the 12th item, simply think of the association attached to your ten toes. Then hop two locations up the chain.

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