Brain Train: Studying for Success

By Richard Palmer | Go to book overview
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And if thou wilt, remember;

And if thou wilt, forget.

Christina Rossetti

We have seen that your memory is your own responsibility. Its success depends in large part on two things: how much you want to remember things and how often you focus on them It's worth repeating that forgetfulness is rarely accidental. People forget things either because they have no real interest in them, or because they do not make enough effort to remember them. As Christina Rossetti suggests, it's entirely up to you. Let me dispose of one common fallacy. A 'photographic memory' is exceptionally rare. You may have seen espionage films in which Agent X or Counterspy Z has only to look briefly at a document, close and open his eyes like a camera shutter, and imprint the material permanently on his brain. Amusing; but reality is less easy. It takes work, not magic, to commit something to memory, and even when the information is securely lodged there, you still need to use it if it is not eventually to disappear. However, don't be put off by that apparently forbidding observation. The work required will not take much time, although adequate concentration is needed.
The previous chapter's simple quiz unremarkably suggested that we have no trouble remembering our name, our address, our phone number, and a host of other personal details. The reason is basic enough: they concern ourselves, and all of us are naturally and deeply interested in ourselves. But such interest in itself cannot be the only principle governing memory: there has to be a bit more to it than that. See how you get on with this quiz.
Write down
1. Your National Insurance number.
2. Your previous phone number.


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Brain Train: Studying for Success


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