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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!

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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The Loci Mnemonic System works very well for memorizing lists. Lists are difficult to memorize because the items usually have no relation to each other and have no context to anything else that might help you remember them. The loci system helps because it changes the task from recall to aided recall by using paired associate learning. The loci locations, which you cannot forget, act as an aid to the items that you can forget.

Another advantage of the loci system is that forgetting one item in the list does not affect your ability to recall the remaining items. This is a problem that the simpler Link system has.

If you frequently have to remember lists and you have not yet invested the time to learn the loci system, you might want to give it a try.

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Most teachers do not want their students to simply memorize facts. Teachers tend to put more emphasis on advanced skills such as reasoning, problem solving and synthesis. Memorization is seen as a lesser skill, and as a result most classrooms do not teach mnemonics. What is often overlooked is that memorization is a necessary first step. If the students cannot remember the facts, there is little hope that they will be able to use them to solve problems or synthesize new ideas. With effective mnemonic instruction, students could get past the memorization step much more quickly and spend more time on advanced educational goals.

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If you have ever walked into a room and forgotten why you walked in there, you have experienced one of most common types of absentmindedness. If this happens to you, look around the room and see if something jogs your memory. Mentally retrace your steps and think about what you were doing when you decided to go into the room. If you still can't remember, go back to what you were doing. Frequently, when you stop trying to remember something it will pop right into your head.

To prevent this from happening in the future you can try two things. When you decide to go into another room, visualize yourself doing what you need to do, or tell yourself what you are going to do. For example, "I need to get my shoes." By doing either of these things you are ensuring that the task gets into your short-term memory.

When you are walking to the other room, try not to get distracted. This can delay you long enough for your short-term memory to forget what you need to do.

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