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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

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Scientific Secrets for a Powerful Memory

Course No. 1965
Professor Peter M. Vishton, Ph.D.
The College of William & Mary
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4.3 out of 5
69 Reviews
84% of reviewers would recommend this series
Course No. 1965
Streaming Included Free

What Will You Learn?

  • Use the Method of Loci to get a handle on how to use imagery to enhance your memory capabilities.
  • Learn why we forget information and how to exercise - and maximize - both long- and short-term memory.
  • Discover how to improve your memory and keep your whole brain in peak condition.

Course Overview

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
 |  30 minutes each
  • 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

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Your professor

Peter M. Vishton

About Your Professor

Peter M. Vishton, Ph.D.
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,...
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Scientific Secrets for a Powerful Memory is rated 4.3 out of 5 by 69.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fascinating Fascinating information. Easy to understand and gave me great insight regarding how memory works, and doesn't. Highly recommend this and have already done so.
Date published: 2017-02-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Secrets for a Powerful Memory This is a great course and I am glad that I bought it! Professor Vishton is very conversational and definitely brings his points home. There were tips that I learned before and plenty of new ones. The course was entertaining and very educational. I definitely feel that I have a better memory due to this course. I would definitely recommend it and I hope that Professor Vishton makes more courses in the future.
Date published: 2017-01-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Worthwhile Some of the research has been around for a longtime. Nonetheless, the new information was interesting
Date published: 2017-01-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Insight and Good Tips This is a great course! It had a lot of helpful information on how memory works and tips to help it work better. I found the information useful and interesting, and learned a great deal about how we learn. There were great tips on enhancing memory, and the professor was knowledgeable and presented the information well. I just wish there had been some more tips on how to help our memory work better, but I think this was limited more by what modern psychology knows than about the course itself. All in all, a great course. I'd highly recommend it to anybody who wants to understand and improve their memory.
Date published: 2017-01-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Secrets for a Powerful Memory This course is short but good. It is well presented by an articulate lecturer. Some of the content was not new to me, but should be of value to others.
Date published: 2016-12-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing Enjoyed the course and thought the teacher could not have explained it better. The first lecture caught my attention when he explained as hunter gatherers we have a longer associated with images and locations than words. He explains how if there are 20 bushes and a lion behind eight different bushes, it is critical for us to remember which bushes they are behind. It was impossible for me to remember when he mentioned the number of bushes the lions were behind but once it was presented in image form it was not problem. The course is only 6 lessons and it was well worth the money.
Date published: 2016-10-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from This is an excellent course. I am getting old and I want to do everything I can to keep my memory healthy. This disk helped me understand how memories work and was very helpful.
Date published: 2016-10-05
Rated 3 out of 5 by from A Memorable Course I thought the first two lectures of the course were the most valuable from the standpoint of learning some actual techniques for memorizing new material. And I really enjoyed the last lecture that described how one's memory of the details of a prior event does not necessarily conform to the actual reality of the event.
Date published: 2016-09-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Powerful Memory It is short and to the point. Great practical tips on improving memory and good information on the science behind memory.
Date published: 2016-08-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from You will be amazed at your memory. Get ready to be amazed at the things you can you with your memory. This course could not have been better. My wife and I watched it together. First I'm very critical and never give 5 stars ever. This was different from the first minute to the last we were riveted to the professor who was outstanding. It not only changed how we remember but our changed our lives in memorizing more things. This course paid for itself. I promise after taking this course you won't lose your car keys anymore. Plus if you want to memorize a list of 100 things or more " go for it".
Date published: 2016-08-17
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Scientific Secrets for a Powerful Memory The first memory suggestion had too many things to try to remember for me. I stopped at the first lesson. I plan on trying again to attempt to memorize the letters that go with the numbers fro m 1 to 0 then putting them together to form some kind of memory booster. Just too much for my mind. Someone taught me years ago to form an image using the numbers from 1 to 10 that rhymed with the number ie: 1 = sun, 2 = shoe, three= tree, 4=door, 5 = hive as in bee, etc and that worked for me --- for a while! I will go back to the course and try to give it an honest trial, but I think that this first method was just too much for my aged (84 years) brain to comprehend. I have really enjoyed the courses I have taken and recommended them to others - South American ancient civilizations and the Leonard Di Venci series. Fantastic!
Date published: 2016-08-15
Rated 1 out of 5 by from waste of time Ok, only done the first two so far but I'm at a loss to see how trying to relate numbers to completely unrelated sounds like in the major system is beneficial. All it does is add a bunch more to memorize. Then in the second course associating with images. So now I have to remember some weird location in addition to the image? It seems to me he's trying to confuse memory more than streamline it. I doubt I'll watch the remainder of the lectures, maybe at a later date. If I remember. I'll associate this courses image with the ticking clock of boredom.
Date published: 2016-07-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great I have a sieve brain and this was truly a Great Course - I need to go through it a few times but I am already surprising myself, and others with my newfound ability to remember stuff.
Date published: 2016-07-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Scientific Secrets for a powerful memory Very good presentation by the professor. A lot of useful information to practice every day and see the benefits.
Date published: 2016-06-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good, but Lacking I've read other books on learning memory techniques and this one covers much of the same material while providing background information on why these techniques work. I very much liked that he spent some time on memory shortcomings & advised us to be aware that our memories aren't always very accurate, often not at all. This course essentially put the information out there & recommended that we go practice and learn it ourselves. I suppose that's okay, but some structured practice would have really helped in my opinion. I think a handful of additional lectures dedicated to providing guided practice on the various memory methods would have pushed this into the solid, 5 star range. There are a few memory techniques that I've also learned in the past and these weren't touched on at all. I do believe that this could have been a 12 lecture course easily. As it is, it's worth the price for the 6 lectures, but you may find yourself wishing there was more.
Date published: 2016-03-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Scientific Secrets for a Powerful Memory The best I have ever read and lesson to, it have been very helpful to me, and am enjoying it every day, to me this Courses are just as they say the Great ones to us in ones life.Thanks for having this Courses :)
Date published: 2016-01-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Make a good memory better I think this is a excellent course for anyone wanting to improve their memory. Well presented by someone that knows what they are talking about. I have no hesitation recommending it to others.
Date published: 2016-01-29
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Bruce. No worth it There are far more simpler systems to memorise a list. His is so complicated I could never use it. I'm returing the DVD.
Date published: 2016-01-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Scientific Secrets for a Powerful Memory I've been a fan of The Great Courses for years, and this one is a great leap forward. From the first minute it was apparent that the instructor knew how to be both engaging and informative. The lectures are filled with animation and helpful graphics. There were exercises and techniques to apply from the very start. I learned the "why" and "how" to enhance my memory, and not cute gimmicks. As one who relies heavily on memory for public speaking, I now have several tools to help me focus on my delivery and less on my notes.
Date published: 2016-01-21
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Very disappointed for very specific reasons I hoped this lecture would include a lot more tips and tricks than it did. I was not interested in a college class on memory. I was interested in tricks about remembering better. The only relevant information about remembering things better I have already found for free on the Internet with much better in depth explanations and training. If you're reading this review I recommend before you spend any money go to YouTube and look up of the major system and the loci method unless you are interested in a pedantic information session about brain anatomy. Also, the first course I purchased from the great courses I purchased in audio format. Sadly that really required video format. This course absolutely does not require video format. Since I was so disappointed with my first purchase I purchased this course in video format too.
Date published: 2015-12-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Information This course offered a lot of great information on how to use our built in memory capacity more efficiently. The presentation kept my interest while being clear, professional, and easy to understand.
Date published: 2015-10-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good memory course One of the most significant lessons learned was the instructor's explanation of how and why humans sort events in our brains. Overall the course was delivered well and had some useful tips on memory techniques.
Date published: 2015-09-29
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Scientific Secrets for a Powerful Memory No problem with the instructor or his presentation, however, this course is not for me. By the time I would do the steps to cement the info to memory, I could have simply memorized it, at the least written it down somewhere where I could access it if necessary. Professor Vishton's method is too time-consuming and irritating to my personality, I guess. Would I recommend the course to someone else: possibly. It's probably the only course I have not enjoyed.
Date published: 2015-06-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from wow great concrete way to think about memory. I have always had a bad memory, but this course offered a different approach. Memorizing can be learned, with practice, and we have an infinite amount of space to store it. Simple concepts, but encouraging when told by a pro. I too would like to have had more examples for different situations and different ways of thinking..All in all, I recommend this course to everyone who wants to explore memory.
Date published: 2015-06-25
Rated 3 out of 5 by from a rather disappointing course After reading the plethora of plaudits for this course (4.6* and 93% recommendations) I was looking forward to an informative and convincing discussion. Sad to say this was not what i experienced. Although the 3rd,4th and 5th lectures were informative, the 6th one was hardly useful at all. But it was the 1st 2 lecture that were the real turn-off The presentation on the "MAJOR" method for remembering a series of numbers,although logical, seemed very impractical. Why/How did he choose the rather difficult and not obvious allocations of letters to numbers ? Why not some very obvious associations: 0=z (for zero), 1=O, 2=t, 3=e, 4=f, 5=i, 6=x, 7=v, 8=a,, 9=n ? And then having to come up with a particular word employing that letter followed by choosing an appropriate image tying all the words together - this is not a very practical nor convincing method for creating a useful strategy for memory improvement. His combination of images for LASH,LEER,etc were rather far-fetched. He did have several useful bits of information with respect to the value of repeated periodic studying of the material to be kept in memory, of repeating a new person's name immediately after hearing it (and even writing it down then and there). the most useful pointer was associated with remembering where one left on's keys. I summarize this as "Live in the moment!" As you put or throw your keys down, WATCH yourself doing it and LISTEN to the sound it make when it his the DESK or TABLE in the BEDROOM or KITCHEN or DING ROOM . The more things you can associate with leaving the keys somewhere, the easier it wii be to recall WHERE that action took place. All in all I rate this course a 3 on a scale of 1-5.
Date published: 2015-05-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This should be your first Great Course There are probably two types of individuals who purchase a Great Course: those who wish to learn a thing or two while being entertained, and those who are ready to make the effort for some serious study. If you belong to the latter group, but are continually frustrated (as I have been) by how little you retain, then I would strongly urge you to see Scientific Secrets for a Powerful Memory as early in your lifelong learning process as possible . Lesson 4, alone, was worth the cost of the course for me. Dr. Vishton is an excellent instructor, kept things interesting, and I hope to see more of him in the future. For those of you who would be interested in learning more mnemonic techniques than time allowed in this course, I recommend reading Ageless Memory, by Harry Lorayne; available from Amazon.
Date published: 2015-04-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great techniques learned Great presentation helpful techniques but audio quality is lacking
Date published: 2015-03-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Short and Sweet This is a brief course, only 6 lectures. Prof. Vishton packs much information into a rather small suitcase but it is one that you can take with you just about anywhere. There are tricks to help you remember things but more than this, Prof. Vishton takes you into the brain where, like a tour guide, he provides information on the landscape along with the most recent findings of modern researchers. There is a touch of the humanist about this good doctor.
Date published: 2015-03-06
Date published: 2014-12-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Best videos on memory This lecture is very good for many reasons. First it shows how good your memory actually is. Second it shows you the best tricks to use your memory the way it was made to work. Third the professor shows many videos, diagrams, and examples to show you why these tricks work. I would recommend this to anyone who wants to use their memory the right way.
Date published: 2014-12-26
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