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Scientific Secrets for a Powerful Memory

Scientific Secrets for a Powerful Memory

Professor Peter M. Vishton Ph.D.
The College of William & Mary
Course No.  1965
Course No.  1965
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Course Overview

About This Course

6 lectures  |  30 minutes per lecture

What was the name of your first pet? Where did you put your house keys? How do you get to work every morning? Most likely, you didn't need to look up the answers to these questions. You remembered them. Memory is, without a doubt, the most powerful (and practical) tool of everyday life. By linking both your past and your future, memory gives you the power to plan, to reason, to perceive, and to understand. As long as thinking and insight are important in how we live our lives, memory will be critical as well. And the better your memory, the more information you'll have at your immediate disposal and the better your thinking will be.

Yet while all of us have an amazing capacity for memory, there are plenty of times when it seems to fail us. Why does this happen? And how can you fix it?

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What was the name of your first pet? Where did you put your house keys? How do you get to work every morning? Most likely, you didn't need to look up the answers to these questions. You remembered them. Memory is, without a doubt, the most powerful (and practical) tool of everyday life. By linking both your past and your future, memory gives you the power to plan, to reason, to perceive, and to understand. As long as thinking and insight are important in how we live our lives, memory will be critical as well. And the better your memory, the more information you'll have at your immediate disposal and the better your thinking will be.

Yet while all of us have an amazing capacity for memory, there are plenty of times when it seems to fail us. Why does this happen? And how can you fix it?

According to award-winning Professor Peter M. Vishton of The College of William & Mary, an engaging cognitive scientist who has spent decades studying the secrets of human memory, the problem is simple. "Our brains were not really built for the types of memory challenges we give them in classrooms, offices, and throughout our daily lives,"he says. "So the central trick to enhancing the power of your memory is to transform things that are hard to remember into things that are easier for your brain to encode and later recall.”

This insight lies at the heart of his captivating course Scientific Secrets for a Powerful Memory. In just six engaging and interactive lectures, you'll explore the real research (not the fads) on how memory functions—and then apply these findings to help you make better use of the memory abilities you have. By tapping into a series of scientifically proven strategies, tricks, and techniques, and by practicing them through dynamic exercises led by Professor Vishton, you'll emerge from the end of this short course with the ability to process information more effectively and to increase your chance of remembering almost anything you want.

Discover How Remarkable Memory Is

Throughout this course, Professor Vishton continually focuses on just how remarkable memory is—and how easily it can be strengthened, enhanced, and improved at any age.

"We may have trouble remembering phone numbers, names, where we left our keys, or facts for an exam,"he says. "All of these failings, however, are not due to limitations of your brain to encode and store information. We all have this capacity, and to a remarkable level!”

The most important way to improve your memory performance and to remember information accurately and for a long time, according to Professor Vishton, is to transform that information into something that's easier for your brain to remember and use, like a distinct visual image or a simple string of letters. Essentially all of the techniques you learn about in Scientific Secrets for a Powerful Memory center on this single goal.

Build Your Mental Tool Kit

So what are some of the powerful skills you'll be able to add to your mental tool kit? Throughout these lectures, you'll learn about a range of methods and techniques designed to boost your memory's powers.

  • The Major System: How can you convert hard-to-remember numbers (such as birthdays, identification numbers, or parking lot zones) into easy-to-remember images? Developed in 1648, the Major System assigns a particular phonetic consonant sound to the digits 0 through 9. When you intersperse vowels and other non-Major consonants, you can make words of items that you can easily imagine.
  • The Method of Loci: Credited to the Greek poet Simonides, the Method of Loci is one of the simplest and most effective tricks for memorizing information. If you can tie the information—whether it's a shopping list or the names of the last 15 U.S. presidents—to known, physical locations, then your memory for it will be dramatically improved compared with simply attempting to recall the information off the top of your head.
  • Chunking: Studies have shown that people can hold about seven meaningful, self-coherent items (such as letters or entire sentences) in their short-term memory (known as "chunks”). From this perspective, these seven storage locations can actually hold a nearly unlimited number of things. All you have to do is learn to pack more information into each of these seven chunks using the other strategies explored in the course.

And those are only a few of the insights you'll find. You'll also get tips on everything from how best to study for an exam to proven ways for transferring information from your short-term to your long-term memory.

Unlock Your Memory's Untapped Potential

"I've long been fascinated with human cognition and the brain,"notes Professor Vishton, named one of the best 300 professors in America by The Princeton Review. "And since the beginning of my time studying psychology, I've also been interested in memory.”

His amazement at the strength and capabilities of human memory is one you'll most certainly be agreeing with as you learn from each of his expertly crafted lectures. With his wealth of experience both teaching and researching the mysteries of memory and the human mind, Professor Vishton offers you the model guide for improving your own everyday memory.

And to expand on your skills and put them to work, he's filled these six lectures with short exercises you can perform as you watch or listen. Pause the course and work on the examples or test your newfound skills at the end of each lecture; there are plenty of opportunities for you to practice what you've learned.

We've all long held people with fantastic memories as somehow superhuman; but the truth is that anyone can be a memory whiz—provided they know the skills for doing so. And now Scientific Secrets for a Powerful Memory offers you the key to unlocking your memory's vast, untapped potential.

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6 Lectures
  • 1
    Your Amazing Prehistoric Memory
    Discover how remarkable your memory ability can be and get an introduction to some of the fascinating ways you can transform your average memory into an excellent one. After a quick memory test to set the stage, Professor Vishton introduces you to one of the most basic ways your memory can encode information: the Major System. With this strategy, you’ll learn how to encode numbers into words and then into distinct images that can help you recall the numerical information whenever you like. You’ll also explore the prehistoric roots of why we think the way we do. x
  • 2
    Encoding Information with Images
    Focus on one of the simplest tricks for memorizing information: the Method of Loci. Like the Major System, this strategy encodes information into a format your brain is especially good at using; in this case, it ties information to a physical location. Gain familiarity with this method through several engaging exercises. Also, peek inside the mind of mental athletes to see how their seemingly superhuman feats of memory are rooted in nothing more than innate brain power we all have. x
  • 3
    Maximizing Short- and Long-Term Memory
    In this insightful lecture, Professor Vishton walks you through the three steps of successful memory: a perception to short-term memory, encoding short-term memory to your long-term memory, and retrieving information from your long-term memory. In addition, you’ll explore how amnesia and other hippocampus-related damages can disrupt this normal memory process; you’ll examine some intriguing ways (such as “chunking”) to get around the limitations of your short-term memory; and much more. x
  • 4
    Why and When We Forget
    Forgetting happens to the best of us—but it can be mitigated through the use of several key techniques. Among the topics you’ll investigate are the “Ebbinghaus forgetting function,” which offers insights into the relationship between time, amount of studying, and the likelihood of memory recall; the most effective way to remember a new set of information (hint: it doesn’t involve cramming); and how to access that pesky piece of information that’s “on the tip of your tongue.” x
  • 5
    Keeping Your Whole Brain in Peak Condition
    To have a good memory that functions at the peak of its powers, you need to keep your entire brain healthy. Professor Vishton shows you how to do just that. You’ll learn how not just a part of your brain, but the entire organ, is involved in remembering things. You’ll also investigate the science behind studies of exercise, sleep, and nutrition—and the curious ways that a balanced diet, daily activity, and a good night’s sleep relate to optimal mental functioning. x
  • 6
    Human Memory Is Reconstruction, Not Replay
    Why should you bother enhancing your memory when there are computers that can do it for you? In what ways is information stored on a computer different from information stored in the recesses of your brain? What are the limits of how memory functions? What are some important roles that technology can—and should—play in backing up our memories? Why are “source memories” and “flashbulb memories” so problematic, and how can you recognize them? Find the answers in this final lecture x

Lecture Titles

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Peter M. Vishton
Ph.D. Peter M. Vishton
The College of William & Mary
Dr. Peter M. Vishton is Associate Professor of Psychology at The College of William & Mary. He earned his Ph.D. in Psychology and Cognitive Science from Cornell University. Before joining the faculty of William & Mary, he taught at Northwestern University and served as the program director for developmental and learning sciences at the National Science Foundation. A consulting editor for the journal Child Development, Professor Vishton has published articles in many of the top journals in the field of psychology. Among these are Psychological Science, Science, and the Journal of Experimental Psychology. He is also the creator of the DVD What Babies Can Do: An Activity-Based Guide to Infant Development. In addition to teaching, Professor Vishton devotes much of his career to researching the perception and action control of both infants and adults. His studies-funded by prestigious institutions, including the National Institute of Child Health and Development and the National Science Foundation-focus on cognitive, perceptual, and motor development; visually guided action; visual perception; computational vision and motor control; and human-computer interface. Professor Vishton has presented his findings at numerous conferences and invited talks throughout the United States and Europe.
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Reviews

Rated 4.5 out of 5 by 21 reviewers.
Rated 5 out of 5 by Its different, visual, practical and worth it What is the most important part of this series is how well done, how visual, the lecture formats are. This course makes full use of diagrams, video clips, demonstrations, graphic simulations, etc. It is the best use of graphics I have seen on any GC class. This is a really practical course, teaching specific memory techniques (method of loci, chunking, majors). It distinguishes bet. the very important short term vs. long term memories (sometimes we don't "forget" - it actually never entered the memory system in the first place). Besides being practical it is also engaging and entertaining. Since there are only 6 lectures, this series is quite manageable. Its a real bargain at only $29.95 (on sale) July 23, 2012
Rated 5 out of 5 by A Course to Remember Format: video streaming. Dr. Peter Vishton, a psychologist, has assembled a superb course that I highly recommend. A recent course (2013), it contains high quality graphics and visual aids that make the course enjoyable -and rememberable. Dr. Vishton, is an accomplished lecturer who keeps our attention and makes us eager for the next lecture. The concepts and principles of memory attention are clearly presented; some exercises are given to help us develop memory skills such as remembering numbers, lists and names. Dr. Vishton also reviews the fundamentals of neuro-symtems involved in memory retention. My only regret is that this 6-lecture course is too short. The art and science of memory development (mnemonics) have been around since the dawn of language development; a multitude of memory techniques exist, some of which could have been included. This course presents just a few, one-size-fits-all techniques that may leave some of us a bit short. Nevertheless, this course is well worth the price and effort of following it. Best regards, jkh September 25, 2014
Rated 3 out of 5 by Had Unnecessary Content First off, this course had some of the best production values I've seen. The visuals were impressive. But in terms of content, I think the presenter deviated off-topic a bit. He spent too much time with details on sleep studies. Although it's a subject I find fascinating, I don't think anyone needs convincing that improper sleep will affect memory. I can't help but feel the course creators had four techniques but wanted to pad it out ot six lectures. Plus no technique or advice for better retention of details during continuous situations such as a meeting or classroom. I guess here's no shame in taking notes. September 6, 2014
Rated 3 out of 5 by Small flaw In the first lecture titled as "Your Amazing Prehistiric Memory", the illustration is completely wrong. Prof. Vishton said that 9 = P,B in 'Major System',then how come he used 'F' for '9' in that birthday illustration. (December,13,1994 encoded as TN DM FR) :/ PS: To err is human... July 16, 2013
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