In the past ten years, brain researchers have learned more about the workings of the brain than in the previous hundred. Your brain is a massive ‘connection machine’ for its different parts, driven by all your senses.
Your ideas and memories are patterns of connections. What makes you ‘you’ is your special pattern of connections, built up piece-by-piece through memory of your sensory experience over your entire lifetime.
Scientists now understand that making sense of new ideas is actually this connection process in action. A key part of learning new things is linking them to the connections that represent what you already know.
Association is one of the most important factors in memory. Memory is a vast, intricately interconnected network, so any one thought will have many ideas and images associated with it. Associations are like hooks, on which more memories can be attached. Memory capacity expands as more things are remembered. The capacity of memory keeps on growing throughout life – the more you know, the more you can know.
Visual imagery is the strongest developed form of imagery in humans. Everyone can improve their memory by making greater use of imagery. When two ideas are connected, images can help them connect more vividly, directly and memorably. Associative imagery is the basis of the evolution of memory and thought, and made a large contribution to the survival chances of our primitive ancestors.
Only relatively recently have humans started to use imagery to recall such things as phone numbers, concepts and mathematical formulae, all of which are poor in imagery and are hard to remember. By making deliberate use of the natural visual associative capability of memory, everyone can improve their thinking effectiveness. This is an increasingly precious and valuable skill in a knowledge-based economy within an information society.
Organisation is also very important in memory. The mind organises new information into groups and patterns, and the more that new information is organised, the better it is remembered. Consciously looking for underlying principles and patterns is far more effective than rote learning, because it is the ordering of the material that the mind remembers. The more consciously you are involved with thinking about something, the greater the depth of processing, the greater the organisation, the better the memory.
Use Cornerstone: Visual Thinking for:
- Recall and retention of written material (summary of book, article and screen-based information)
- Preparing revision notes (for exams professional qualifications and examinations)