Scientific Secrets for a Powerful Memory

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

Lecture Titles

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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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Reviews

Scientific Secrets for a Powerful Memory is rated 4.2 out of 5 by 85.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Terrific video Professor Vishton was such a good speaker and there were so many graphics that made the videos very interesting. No getting bored with these lessons. I definitely recommend this course.
Date published: 2018-03-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Interesting Fairly short and sweet. Good instructor, engaging and informative.
Date published: 2018-02-28
Rated 3 out of 5 by from So so Some hokey techniques, some good information , not much earth shattering information
Date published: 2018-02-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Our Memory History Easy to understand and helpful. The material is presented in an interesting manner.
Date published: 2018-02-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great presentation Very helpful, insightful. Great presentation providing useful tools for remembering anything. It was very well done, enjoyable.
Date published: 2018-01-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Enlightening and Useful I purchased this course with a couple of other courses, because I felt I really needed to understand a little bit about how I might be able to optimize and remember the course material as I went through it. I found this course to be short enough to be useful and the concepts can be used right away. Thank you for providing me with this insight.
Date published: 2017-12-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wish I had it when I was younger Great course. Although there were some content and anecdotes I picked up in other courses, for the most part much was new for me. I’d say this course is fun, educational, practical, and useful. Only 6 lectures but well worth it. I watched about one lecture a day. If you try out the Mnemonic Major System a couple of times, it’ll be much more fun. FYI: there are also apps available to practice using your smartphone. Regarding the Loci Method, the funny thing was that days later I still remembered all items in the shopping list without even trying, thanks to Jeff, Meg, and Tom. And the lecture about the Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve was a winner. Ain’t gonna forget that! Images and video helped to consolidate information. The set was fine. Lecture 6 is important in this day and age. It’s good to hear someone extol the virtues of old fashioned brain power despite having Google at your fingertips for all of your queries. In short, I really wish I had this available when I was much younger.
Date published: 2017-10-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Mental math Lately, my time is somewhat limited, but the little time I have spent with the Program (s), I am delighted. I am 86 years old, and enjoying the courses very much. When I conclude One of the courses,I will be glad to write a review. Thank You, Tony F. Acocella
Date published: 2017-09-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Scientific secrets for a powerful memory product : Scientific in nature and accurate psychologically!
Date published: 2017-08-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Scientific Secrets for a Powerful Memory I hope this book give me some answers that I had have all my life.
Date published: 2017-07-29
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Interesting but not really new I watched this recently thinking that I would learn something new. Unfortunately, this was not the case. The professor does clearly present memory enhancing techniques. And he is entertaining in doing so, but these techniques have been around for a while and most people learn this information in college psychology classes. I found the backgrounds to be distracting.
Date published: 2017-05-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very well done I am only halfway thru watching this course as I am trying to practice what I am learning, as much as I can before moving on. However, at the halfway point I can say that I would buy it again, even if I only got this first half as the complete course. Very well put together - excellent!
Date published: 2017-04-06
Rated 2 out of 5 by from The title of the course is not accurate A more accurate title would be "how does memory work." Only 2-3 tools for a powerful memory are actually discussed. And there is also a considerable amount of repetition on any facts. The course could have easily been delivered in 2 half hour classes.
Date published: 2017-04-01
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Waste of time and money Complicated, hard to understand system of converting numbers to letters that sound like numbers in order to remember numbers. I'm college educated and have over 30 years experience as a project manager who worked with numbers all day every day. This system is the dumbest thing I've ever seen.
Date published: 2017-02-26
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
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