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Why everyone can be a memory artist

Some people can memorize hundreds of faces or phone numbers in a matter of minutes. Everyone is capable of such feats of memory.

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Actually, the masters of mental gymnastics who present their skills in front of a large audience are no smarter than anyone else. Nor do you have any unusual talents. Rather, technique and practice are behind their fascinating abilities – and that’s great. Because it means that anyone can become a mastermind.

Pull-ups for the gray cells

Our memory is like a muscle: with practice, it works better and performs better. Marathon runners, for example, don’t manage the 42 kilometers at the first attempt. But with the right training, they finally succeed in what initially seemed impossible. And it’s not just impressive to be able to rattle off the number pi and its 58 decimal places. A fit brain is also healthy: if you exercise your gray matter regularly, you will live longer. With so-called mnemonics, anyone can give their brain power a boost. “Mneme” comes from the Greek and means “memory” – and the techniques have actually been used since ancient times. Even Cicero wrote about the clever exercises and their effects, which make it easy to recite long poems, for example.

Step by step to becoming a memory artist

For beginners, most mnemonics seem complicated at first. This is because they are based on a complex memory system that must first be learned – like a language. First steps, such as how to recognize faces and names and names, birthdays or credit card numbers, for example, can also be easily memorized by non-professionals.
  • It sounds trite, but nothing is more important for good memory performance than rest. Many quiz show contestants are so excited on TV that they can’t remember things they actually know. People who are tired, have not had enough to drink or have eaten something heavy also find it harder to remember things.
  • A logically structured text is suitable for initial memory exercises. Because what the brain can put into a meaningful context is easier to remember. Readers who take an active, critical stance and question facts are better able to remember the content overall.
  • Use as many senses as possible when learning, as this activates more areas of the brain and increases memory capacity. For example, it can be helpful to read a paragraph out loud, walk around while learning or associate a feeling with the text.
  • 753 – Rome hatches from the egg! With mnemonic devices such as rhymes, rhythms and pictures, even abstract historical figures can be memorized. The reason: our brain works associatively and is better at remembering images.
  • Another way to remember numbers is to look for known combinations. For example, does a number contain a date of birth, age, shoe size or height? Is there a math problem in it? If not, it helps to form pairs of numbers and look for a particular rhythm or pattern.
  • With more complex mnemonics, even unrelated terms can be easily memorized. One of them is the so-called route method, which can be used to memorize shopping lists, for example. Imagine a familiar route, such as your journey to work. Then link the individual points on your shopping list with points on this route. For example: It’s slippery on the doorstep because oil has leaked out. The wall in the stairwell is painted lemon yellow. When you arrive at the supermarket, follow the route point by point.
  • For names and faces, it is helpful to look for a striking feature, such as a moustache. Then think of a picture that contains the name and the striking feature. For example: Martin Reiter – a horse plucks the man by his moustache. The more bizarre the picture is, the better.
And finally: Practice, practice, practice! Even those who are mind must exercise regularly. And there are always little tasks: the names of the people in the house, the cell phone numbers of friends and more.
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