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Neurohacking - Tutorials
Written by NHA   
Sunday, 05 February 2012 12:46
Article Index
Neurohacking Tutorial 8 - Imagination, Memory and Prediction
Neuroanatomy of Memory - Structure and Function
Everywhere and Nowhere
How Memories are Made
What Happens if Things Go Wrong?
Core Skills for Memory Health and Improvement
Imagination and Prediction
NHA Guide to Methods & Technology
The Most Important Bits To Remember
Hacks & Exercices
Notes, References & Answers
All Pages




HACKS -for memory & association


For N1&2:

  • First

    Improve your memory as much as you can by natural means; that is to say, make sure you get enough sleep and eat well. Foods that are particularly good for memory are listed in the methods & tech section above. (Be careful not to overdose on vitamin B or your dreams will kick the crap out of you. The rumor that cheese makes you dream is based on the fact that it improves your memory of your dreams, often in vivid detail.) Be aware of the effects of alcohol etc and wean yourself off alarm clocks.


  • Take a nap

Between bits of learning. Normal memory consolidation of new information takes 6-8 hours to become permanent. With a nap [for some rapid defragging] you can reduce the time to 90 minutes.


You may find these simple steps improve your memory a lot, but there's no need to stop there!


  • Use your Sensory Power

    The more enjoyable a sensation, the more likely it will be remembered, all other things being equal. The more stuff stimulates your senses, the easier it is to remember.

    For example, reading material is more likely to be remembered if it has key words in color and is as brightly lit as possible without glare.

A message in several media, i.e. where different senses are stimulated, is more powerful than in one. It follows then, that an idea which is expressed through a story will have more impact on the memory than a straight-forward statement. The more fantastic, evocative or powerfully illustrated the story, the more powerful the memory. However, best of all is to directly express the idea in actions. Sometimes this may be

done as an experiment, sometimes as an exercise and sometimes it is a less specific action in the world at large. Sexual or sexually linked data will probably be easily remembered because of our society’s pervasive taboos on sex and also because sex has a high level of sensory power. Anything vulgar, humorous, weird or attractive will also be easily remembered. This will vary depending on personal associations.

Vivid perception is the best aid to retention. In this way the sense exercises are also memory improvers!

To get people [including yourself] to remember what is said, heard or written make sure it appeals to a range of the senses either directly or by association. A subject that is dull can be associated with one that is bright. E.g. a dull black and white list or plan will draw attention to itself by being highlighted or pasted onto a colored background

  • for spatial memory

Draw maps from memory of parts of your local area, and a floor plan for your home or other familiar building. Check them out and correct them later. This habit improves spatial memory really fast.


For N3


Input control for enriched environments


Behavioral, cellular and molecular studies have revealed significant effects of enriched environments, and provided new insights into mechanisms of experience-dependent plasticity, including adult neurogenesis and synaptic plasticity. The demonstration that the onset and progression of neurodegenerative diseases is delayed by environmental enrichment has emphasized the importance of understanding epigenetic factors in nervous system disorders.

There is now no doubt that the development and performance of mind, brain and individual is affected by the stimulation of their processing networks provided by their surroundings (including the opportunity to interact socially)

Enriched environments work via epigenetics; affecting the expression of genes that determine neuronal structure.[84]

At the molecular level, this occurs through a cascade of responses including increased concentrations of neurotrophins and BDNF, the alteration of cholinergic neurons and an increase in proteins & various neurotransmitters. [85]

The number of improvements enabled by input control for an enriched environment is legion; increased numbers of synapses, dendrites, glial support cells and new neurons; more complex connections between neurons, increased synapse activity and a thicker cortex. Capillary vasculation is upgraded to provide the neurons and glial cells with extra energy.

An 'enriched' environment in fact means a normal healthy environment -the real world is an enriched environment. Rather we should speak of avoiding impoverished environments such as school (and sadly for many, work and home), because impoverished environments impair cognitive development.

Children that receive impoverished stimulation due to being confined to cots without social interaction or bonded caretakers show severe delays in cognitive and social development.[86] 12% of them show autistic or mildly autistic traits later at four years of age.

Such children show marked differences in their brains, consistent with research upon experiment animals, compared to children from healthy stimulating environments. They have reduced brain activity in the brain stem (N1), hippo, amygdala & temporal cortex (N3), and the orbital prefrontal cortex (N6). [87]

They also showed less developed white matter (axonal) connections between different areas in their cerebral cortices, particularly the commissure connecting N3 to N6 (uncinate fasciculus/UF) [88]

Conversely, bonded infants who are carried in arms, stimulated with massage and breast fed show faster maturation of EEG activity, visual acuity and an increase in IGF-1.[88]

Research also shows that specific brain structures in people from the city and the countryside respond differently to social stress. Schizophrenia is twice as common in those who are city-born and raised as in those from the countryside, and the bigger the city, the higher the risk.[91]

Being outside in nature for just 20 minutes in a day is enough to significantly boost vitality levels, and that sense of increased vitality exists above and beyond the energizing effects of physical activity and social interaction that are often associated with our forays into the natural world. You don't have to exercise; just be there. Research has shown that people with more exposure to nature don't just have more energy for things they want to do, they are also more resilient to physical illnesses, caring, and generous.[90] These studies underscore the importance of having access to parks and natural surroundings and of incorporating natural elements into our buildings through windows and indoor plants.

  • Hacks for those who like to drink & smoke

Alcohol and cannabis can wreck your memory. If you like to do either, keep to the following simple guidelines to minimise damage:

  1. Don’t drink/smoke every day

  2. Don’t binge, especially after a long time without.

  3. Invest in a wine bottle resealer so you don’t feel obliged to drink up the whole bottle of wine you opened before it goes sour.

  4. Avoid drinking/smoking before you have to learn anything new.

  5. Drink juice or water in between beer or joints. Dehydration is a big cause of memory damage and cell damage in general. Eat more fruit. This should be no problem if you already have the munchies.

  6. If you go to a heavy party, or wake up with a hangover, don’t drink or smoke for a few days afterwards.


  • to get drunk without alcohol [and without hangover]:

Memory loss occurs because alcohol binds to a type of receptor in the hippo called “alpha-5”. The drugs bretazenil and pagoclone do this too. Alcohol also inhibits NMDA receptors, and so does the drug dizoclipine. If you mix these medications together you are able to get ‘drunk’. To get un-drunk, you can take flumazenil, which turns off the effect. These drugs are quite expensive, but if you can afford it they give the same effect as alcohol without the liver damage, and you have an immediate ‘sober-up’ pill. Sounds like Star Trek but it’s true. If you grind them to powder and put them into grape juice, you have a pleasant and safer alcohol substitute wine.

Drug companies are unlikely to develop this mix because of its potential for abuse. [They don’t seem too concerned about the potential of alcohol for abuse.] So if you get a chance, check it out.

  • for association exaggerate differences and similarities

    A foreign or exotic word might stand out from a passage of normal prose. A flower might stand out in a muddy battlefield. A sparrow would stand out in an aviary of finches. The weird, unexpected, unusually strident out of context, will be remembered. Exaggerations of SIZE seem to be especially effective, and to remember in time, make it rhyme.

To memorize a forgettable name, exaggerate or use an associated rhyming word that will make it stick in the mind. (Examples: Smith, Myth; Dave, Slave; Peter, Meter)


  • for those who tend to be front loaders (to improve overall brain connectivity)

    It is worth taking the time to make deliberate and conscious symbolic connections between material reality and abstract concepts, e.g. the smell of freshly turned soil and the fertility of the earth and its potential bounty of resources. In this way, you can get both ends of the brain associating the same things, and later a simple perception brings to mind the abstract idea. Association as a whole is enriched by such consciously intended associations. A single flower can bring to mind the 'productive power of nature'. Smell is a potent sense with which to make such associations. Consider what different smells remind you of.

  • using congruous association


    To understand how association works congruously and how in particular you personally make associations:

Pick a concrete concept at random. (Concrete = physical material, for example an object, animal, plant, building, place.) The concept should be represented in a single word, symbol or picture. Write, draw or stick this in the centre of one page of your captain's log. Then using the word or picture as a focus, make a mind map, writing around it as many associations as you can jot down in 5 minutes. This in itself may be revealing. Label this page 'original associations'.

If you can do this with others, it is interesting to see someone else's associations and thoughts around a subject as a reference point from which to judge your own.

Next, take the same concept and put it at the center of a new page.

Spending only a few minutes on each section:

At the bottom left of the page, write the core concept 'matter', and note down its material and sensory associations (eg is it hard or soft, cold or warm, what is its texture and taste if it has them).

At the bottom right, write the core concept 'space' and note down its spatial and behavioral associations, (eg how does it move, look or sound, what does it do, where is it seen, kept, found or used, how does it behave?) Behavior is independent motion in space; for example if your concept was 'cat' you would say it walks, runs, climbs, stalks prey and eats mice. If it was 'car' you'd say it needs an operator or it does nothing.

At the bottom centre, write the core concept 'density', and here note whether it has any smell and if so what sort, what type of emotions you associate with it if any, and whether or not you think it's important. On the whole, do you like it or not? Is it a beneficial thing or a harmful one?

At the top right of the page, write the core concept, "Time", and list here the concept's procedural, creative and time-related associations, if it has any. This will usually include what it is or could be used for, what can be done with it, when and how it could be used/seen, or how it works, and its place in 'the big picture' (for example if your starting concept was 'cat' you would say it's part of organic life; if your concept was 'car' you'd say it was part of human technology). Look for associations that emphasize its similarity to other things or how it is a part of things.

At the top left of the page, write the core concept 'energy', and here note down declarative facts and data you know about the concept, For example what is it called, what is it made of, when was it first seen, what color is it, who discovered/invented it and any facts you know that distinguish it as different from other things.

At the top center, write the core concept 'power and here note how it features in human interaction (eg, is it to be avoided, sought, eaten, attended to, used, talked to, looked at?) Do NOT include what it is or could be used for, just whether it is used by humans.

Now consider the associations on this map. Can you see why these aspects of your starting concept associate with the core concepts that they do? Can you see that together they answer all the questions: what, where, when, which, why and how?

Check which network your concept has most associations in.

If you get stuck, use your knowledge of animal behaviors and which networks they relate to. -How does your chosen concept relate to the different animal behaviors? This should tell you what network (and hence which core concept) it has most associations in.

Compare your original and second lists. Which one would give a stranger a clearer idea of what the concept is, if they had never heard of it before?

Practice habitually working out the core concepts associated with random things around you, and thinking of things in association with their core concepts. This will instill habits of congruous association automatically. If you are stuck in dull surroundings, make random lists of concepts and practice core concept association with them.

Most people find the concepts 'energy' and 'density' the hardest core concepts to understand, and we'll pay extra attention to those in these tutorials.


Association augmentation:


Observe association in defragging -Deliberately sit and daydream. Allow your mind to wander. Have a notebook by your side and every half minute make a one-word note of the current thought you are having. Jot this down in such a way as to avoid disturbing your reflections, as far as possible. In this way you can keep track of a series of points in your wandering thoughts.

After 10 or 15 minutes stop and look at your notes. See if you can identify the connections by which each link originally came one from the other. (Often the link is not 'rational' but simply a quite arbitrary association, for example we think of a train, then we think of someone we last saw on a train, then something they said about turtles, and then we think of tortoises and the galapagos islands, charles darwin, the natural history museum...etc) Don't try to direct your thoughts, just observe, make notes, and see if you can fit in the missing links.

Repeat this once daily for a week. This is a study of how your mind's processing finds continuity and associational links. Similar mechanisms operate in dreams, but we are not normally conscious of them. The more conscious you become of how defragging works, the more you will be able to both direct and augment it.

Next note down what core concepts were accessed at the key points you first noted down; for example my starting concept was 'train' and that associates mostly with the core concept of time. (Obviously it has associations with many core concepts -it's a machine made of matter that moves through space over time using energy and so on, but the first descriptive phrase "it's a machine" gives us its key concept from N3's inner model.)

For N4:

  • Hack to assist recall

Common Mnemonics:






Hack for using the learning cycle to improve procedural memory and LTP:


Practice and variation is about generating your own examples. Go beyond the examples already provided on any particular topic you are learning. Bring your general knowledge and experience into play by relating information and ideas to what you already know. When you can generate your own examples, you both demonstrate your understanding and enhance your memory.



Hack for improving LTP


Go multimodal. If you have a list of things to remember, say them out loud, listen carefully to the sound of the words as you say them, write them down and focus on how the words look as you do so. Draw pictures that relate to each item. Make up a tune to sing them to, or a rhyming poem with them in. The more different modes that you can put the information into, the easier and faster it will be to move it into long term memory.

  • Remembering academic stuff you actually want to learn –interact with it

Follow the technique above but paraphrase the essential ideas to yourself as soon as you have read them. If the situation allows, speak aloud to yourself (vocalizing is in itself a great aid to memory).

When you read the crucial passages and summaries again, paraphrase afresh. In doing this think through the important points as if you were relating or explaining them to someone else. As you proceed through the material, describe to yourself the connections between the essential ideas. This is done by relating each new idea to the preceding material. If the 'argument' or 'structure' is complex you will find it helps to use a mind map. After each section or other substantial amount, summarize the information or arguments so far. These summaries may be read aloud, taped and played back when you are reviewing.

Having read the summaries criticize and question the ideas so far. –Do they make sense to you in context? Again, think out aloud if possible. Aim to make this as succinct as possible.

It is an 'effort' to start to use this interactive technique when one has been used to ‘reading’ being a passive, quiet activity. This change of habit will be rewarded by a much stronger and clearer memory of the material.


  • Repetition and Review

    Repetition is essential for the retention of any complex information that lacks emotional content. Each time a particular object, process or condition is perceived, the memory trace is etched deeper. This principle can be used in two ways. In learning a passage of prose or collection of objects, the passage or collection must be run over, and over again, until it is learnt. Secondly, if the thing needs to be learnt so that it. is permanently ready for recall, then it must be reviewed at intervals. Review is recommended, at the optimal time intervals for learning [see previous tutorials]. After four or five reviews which are separated in time, the item enters long term memory from which it is never lost. Further reviews can be of key words and areas only.

Repetition is most effective if it is active. If one speaks the words, with gestures. If the facts are made into a model, sculpture, image, poster or conversation topic. Passive repetition needs more cycles to gain an equivalent retention. [This is the main ploy of advertising, where essentially unimportant material is absorbed unconsciously simply by passive but repeated exposure]. Passive unconscious absorption has the advantage of speed [this may be put to good use in reprogramming the memory with a more positive outlook, which we’ll explore in a later tutorial with autosuggestion.]

Repeat people’s names as often as conversation permits after first introductions without giving an impression of over familiarity. The derivation of the name, or other people you know with the same name, may be used as conversational gambits.

As a mental faculty, memory cannot be improved by repetitive practice of the same type of input, e.g., by remembering more and more telephone numbers, you are not improving your memory as such. You need regular exercise of all types of memory to develop and improve this factor of intelligence.

Application: If a thing is worth repeating it is worth repeating at least three times. Rub it in.


  • Categorize & use creativity

    When a number of things have something in common they can more easily be remembered by grouping them under their shared feature. i.e. the group. Use the core categories and association maps. If the things to be remembered are completely disparate they may be artificially made into a linked set, and one way of doing this is to include the things as part of a story. The story, as a rich set of linked ideas in which the disparate things are integral elements, is easily remembered.

Application: Take what you which to remember and list what the material has in common or how it matches to the core categories. If this seems unhelpful create an artificially linking structure e.g. an imagined place in which each to be remembered fact or object is visualized in a particular location.

Linking a name to an occupation or hobby (eg, Rupert the musician) is very helpful. It takes quite a bit of practice before a dozen new introductions at a party can be instantly retained, but it is possible with practice and ingenuity to compress the technique into very few seconds.



using distraction


Need to memorize a crucial fact? The trick is to distract yourself by taking short breaks in which you pay attention to input that's different from whatever you're trying to learn. Example –take a short break, and watch a cartoon, or listen to some music –or even better- do 5 minutes meditation.

As you relax, your brain will do a bit of defragging to permanently store the original information. It's like allowing your processing time to catch up with itself. Here's a real life example: researchers [76] asked students to try to memorize a set of 48 word pairs (country: Russia, fruit: lemon, flower: lily, etc.). After studying the list, some students then had to sit through a slide show before trying to recall the words, and some didn’t. The distracted students performed better on subsequent recall tests. Distraction allows you to engage in processing.



Primacy and Recency

The beginning of an event, lecture, film, journey, list etc., is likely to be weighted more strongly and consequently remembered. This is also true of the final scene, passage, conclusion and so on. This characteristic of weighting can be used to advantage by introducing the main points or characters you need to remember early on and summarizing the conclusions at the end. This principle will work for periods of several years (e.g. at college) as it will for short lists of objects. It is also true for life as a whole in that early events are most influential and recent events most easily remembered in detail.


Think of ways that first and last things seen can be designed to envelop the whole. With an essay this may be a first paragraph that summarizes your argument and a final paragraph that summarizes your main points.


For N5:


Attitude dancing: “There is no try”


Learning new things –anything- strengthens your memory — especially when you believe you can learn new things. It's a virtuous circle: When you think you're getting smarter, you study harder, making more nerve-cell connections, which in turn makes you ... smarter. This effect shows up consistently among experimental subjects, from seventh graders to college students to business people. According to studies carried out by Stanford University psychology professor Carol Dweck and others, volunteers with a so-called growth mindset about learning ("persist in the face of setbacks") have more brain plasticity. In other words, their brains are more adaptable. They exhibit increases in cognitive performance compared with those who have a so-called fixed mindset based on anxiety ("get defensive or give up easily"). "Many people believe they have a fixed level of intelligence, and that's that," Dweck says. "The cure is to change the mindset."

The same technique can be used in illness. Your attitude to and perception acuity for any problem strongly determines the outcome of that problem. Research confirms that brief, straightforward psychoeducational interventions can modify negative illness beliefs and lead to improvements over a range of different health outcomes. In fact, research suggests that how a person views their illness may play a bigger role in determining health outcomes than the actual severity of the disease.[71]

Have confidence in intelligence. Approach anything new with the attitude that all you have to do is show the brain things in the right order and it will learn about stuff. Keeping anxiety levels down is important as ever for achieving this space.

Use the self-assessments in these tutorials so that you can see clearly that you are improving and keep track of what to do next.

  • Tag weighting with words

You can use cognitive input to enhance memory weighting. The fastest way to do that is start telling yourself to remember. If you just learned a person's name, for example, tell yourself, "Remember that". This signals the unconscious mind to rank this input higher in importance.

Tell yourself why you want to remember something, and how you will remember it. To remember a person, think about how that person will be important to you in the future, where you'll see them next, and anything you notice about them. Clearly seeing the importance of remembering will help a lot and the additional associations (where you expect to see the person next, for example) will weight the memory more densely in the first place.

Use a keyword, for example ‘video’ as an instruction to your unconscious mind to increase weighting on the recording of an event and a signal to yourself to pay attention. This works well in self-suggestion and hypnosis.


Hack to improve declarative memory & learning speed:


This is an ‘add-on’ to the “Mind Map” method. It’s great when swotting for exams, learning from books or manuals, or trying to remember a big load of facts in any context:

Quantity survey the info –break it up into bits, one for each study session that you have available.

    Scan briefly through the information as though you are a shopper flicking through a catalog looking for interesting things for sale. Look at anything that automatically catches your eye, such as pictures or headlines, but don’t dwell on anything for too long.

    Study introductions, summaries and conclusions first. Make a mind map as you’re going along. The keywords will help your storage and recall.

    As mentioned earlier, the brain has a natural timing optimal for learning and remembering. The trouble is, everyone's is slightly different. Research shows that this spacing effect is the product of the transfer of the memory trace from the flocculus, a cerebellar cortex region which connects to motor nuclei involved in eye movement, to another brain region known as the vestibular nuclei. Protein synthesis in the cerebellum plays a key role in memory consolidation, and humans and animals are able to remember things more effectively if learning is distributed over a period of time rather than performed all at once.[82]

    You can find out yours by trial and error starting with the basic method below:

Study until you are just starting to get bored with it. Wait ten minutes, then go over the material again. Then leave it alone for 24 hours, and at the same time next day, look at the material a third time. You can then forget about it for a week, after which you should review it once more. If you want to keep the information long-term, you should include another two sessions, one after a month and one after six months. If you keep to this pattern of timing, your memory of the material will be stronger, and if you use it regularly, permanent.


Recent research [81] devised a mathematical method to calculate your ideal learning schedule, which can be found here:



Remembering Verbal Material –recapping


In situations where you are unable to refer back to visual material for review, recapping is a useful technique. Using recapping also does away with the need to take immediate notes.

What you do is whenever the speaker says ‘any questions?’ [or after the talk] say you would like to ensure that you have understood what has been said so far. You then express in your own words the main points made and ask for correction if necessary. This ensures communication is fully understood and it is a powerful memory aid because it helps concentration (especially on boring or difficult material.)

At the end of the presentation do a major recap of the material as a whole and ask questions if you need to for further clarification.

This recapping may also be done with a third party after the event –anybody who seemed to take more of it in than you did. It can also be used with books or film and video material.



Hack for those unfortunate dudes studying for exams:


If you can break the school conditioning that books should be read 'properly' or not at all it can cut your study time by at least 50 per cent. This method will not guarantee information staying in long term memory, so it should be done a week or two before the exam for best results [see next hack for stuff you actually want to learn]. You have to be prepared to draw all over books or notes so find a pencil if you don’t want them permanently scribbled on. Then follow this formula:

1. preview:This is an initial survey at speed. Look at the amount of material and consider the amount of time you have to learn it. Divide the load into days/weeks etc (eg if there are x pages/chapters of text to study in y days/weeks, you need to study z pages per day/week.) Remembering to take breaks to optimize your learning, go through each section in the following manner:

Scan briefly through everything but the main text. Look at the contents page, pictures, back cover or dust cover notes, summaries, conclusions, graphics, margin notes, italics, bold type, capitals, subheadings, quotes, tables, dates, statistics, graphs, footnotes etc. Be especially careful to pay attention to the outlines of diagrams, and other illustrations. Aim to understand the overall structure of the information. Don't make notes yet.

2. zoom outview: Now read the beginnings and ends of each chapter and scan the rest of the text. Aim to get the gist of the arguments but leapfrog the difficult detailed or boring bits. Key word diagram notes or highlighting may help if the structure is complex. You can now begin to select what is useful to study further, criticize the content and reject parts, marking only what you are sure will be useful.

3. zoom inview: Reread what you have so far concluded will be useful and start making notes or a mind map. Look at some of the difficult bits and details associated with key areas but still don't get bogged down; if it’s not clear move on regardless (few authors will not summarize key points clearly at some stage!) Mark key summary text and related passages so they stand out. Make your own index of relevant pages and subject areas on the rear fly leaf.

4. overview: Re-read key text and related passages. Scan to make key notes and/or a mind map. For a heavy book or area of study make a mind map or large general diagram of the overall structure and sub-diagrams for each section/topic etc. See what bits of information are missing and seek them out in the material, adding to your notes/mind map. Include in your map associations with stuff you already know.

5. review: Read notes next day and then in one week and in a month. In the first review redraw the initial key word diagram - to clarify the pattern. The subsequent reviews can be quick - a matter of 5 minutes. If you’ve followed the formula you may find you now have time to fill in a few more details and because you have all the basics, this should be easier. Consider the way this information relates to you personally and what it will enable you to do.

6. clear view: Form a strategy for prioritisation of things to remember, considering what is likely to be required of you and what sort of context you will be expected to put the information in.


Weighting memory with personal interest - 'use value'

Memory retention improves with increased motivation. This is partly due to an increase in the intensity of perception, and motivation is an important factor. If an action, object or knowledge can clearly be seen to be of use, then motivation increases. A perception that is irrelevant to our survival, or whose use is obscure, won't generate much interest and so will not be easily remembered.


In setting up material to be memorized, it helps to make its 'use value' clear; i.e., understanding what practical use the information can be put to. This seems an obvious point and yet in much common academic work the reasons WHY it is useful to learn the facts presented, and how they are connected to our real lives in the real world are simply not given.

Find these associations for yourself, taking responsibility for your own learning. If something genuinely cannot be seen as useful to real life in any way, you probably shouldn't be learning it.

Remember, fiction and fantasy are also useful to real life!

NB. Artificial motivation via use value may also be generated by coercion, by deceit using absolutely false or fictitious reasons of use, or by strongly associating a 'useless' fact or object with one that is more useful (one of the most common strategies in advertising) but this is not to be advised for aiding memory unless your need is dire, as it creates incongruous association that you'll then have to work on getting rid of.


Input control when learning declarative information

An environment free from distraction is a great help. This is a personal thing but some find it useful to get out of their familiar surroundings. Go to the local library or set aside a new space. Difficult material will generally require shorter, sharper periods of concentration e.g. heavy technical information.

Take regular breaks for exercise. To avoid over-familiarity, consecutive periods of study should provide you with a variety of stimuli, i.e. similar subjects and media should not be learned in sequence.

Always remember that no new knowledge can be moved into long term memory until after you next sleep!


For N6

  • Do the audition

Rehearse the information as though you had to learn it as an actor learning lines and practise speaking it aloud in various different ways [different accents, different moods].



Get yourself into the ‘right frame of association’. If your mind is elsewhere you will not be able to key into a subject as quickly as if you had 'warmed up' beforehand.




You will do better in lectures or meetings if you have mentally reviewed your curriculum beforehand. Reviewing known aspects of a subject before approaching it at a higher level or after a break will facilitate your retention of new facts and ideas. Things with which the new ideas can be associated are then fresh in your mind.


Techniques for improving memory in all networks


Exercise –Is known to improve memory, especially early networks. Tai Chi is one of the best; swimming in moving water is another. Dancing of any kind where you have to remember the steps is good too. Any kind of basic workout that improves your blood flow will also help your memory [and the rest of your brain].

If using physical exercise to improve your memory, bear the following in mind:

Aerobic Training
In 2006, Arthur Kramer of the University of Illinois used MRIs to prove that aerobic exercise builds gray and white matter in the brains of older adults. Later studies found that more aerobically fit grade-schoolers also perform better on cognitive tests.
Impact on memory: Strong

Lifting Weights
When weight lifters talk about getting huge, they aren't referring to their hippocampus. Researchers have found only the most tenuous link between heavy resistance training and improved cognitive function.
Impact on memory: Negligible

When facing a stressful situation or even a scary email, people often hold their breath. Yoga can break that habit. Under pressure, "most people breathe incorrectly," says Frank Lawlis, a fellow of the American Psychological Association. The result: more anxiety and less oxygen to your brain. "So the first thing that goes is your memory."
Impact on memory: Possibly strong



Particularly good for N4, because it improves your ability to get into alpha rhythm, but also helps all other networks, and increases attention and alertness.

Impact on memory: Very strong.


Psychological techniques –Can be particularly helpful for shifting traumatic memories. Sometimes used with medication/drugs in PTSD or paranoia [see next tutorial]. Best results have come so far from Cognitive Behavioral therapy, and if you have a big ‘S’ score for N5 and a low one for N3, this will work particularly well for you. This is a good example of where a strong network can help a weaker one back onto its feet. Using N3 to associate music with facts could work in the opposite case [low N5, high N3].

Impact on memory: Varies widely according to individual


Exercises -for building up or augmenting memory & association

Memory techniques basically do three things - they help you to control your attention, they help you to add meaning, and they also allow you to ‘play’ with information and thereby allow you to review and repeat it.

  • If you only ever have time for one exercise, use anxiety reduction.

If you're fleeing a cave bear, it's good to be stressed — you'll run faster. But while a little nervousness can boost cognitive performance, periods of anxiety essentially turn us into Neanderthals: The amy’s danger signal overrides the prefrontal cortex, which handles working memory and executive function. "When those deep brain areas are active, they shanghai your cortical neurons," says psychiatrist Edward Hallowell, author of CrazyBusy. "Your IQ plummets. Your creativity, your sense of humor — all of that disappears. You're stupid." How to quiet your inner caveman? By slowing and synchronizing your pulse and respiration, thus sending a message to your brain that everything is cool. Meditation, Yoga or power napping could do the trick. Or try a biofeedback device to help you calm down.


  • Attention Meditation

Gaze at the second-hand of a clock without the slightest waver of attention. As soon as your mind wanders note the time. As you repeat this exercise you will notice your attention span increasing.

Some gurus claim that if you can keep full attention, without wavering or being mesmerized for thirty minutes then you have achieved enlightenment..... all we can say is you definitely haven’t drunk too much coffee.

exercises for improving sensorimotor & spatial memory in networks 1&2:


Attention and Orientation bring Concentration


    A basic perceptual/mental ability is to be able to concentrate the attention from the general to the more specific by orienting the senses to discriminate in favor of one or more items. In this way perception is focused more intensely on a smaller area. Other sensations and irrelevant thoughts are rigorously excluded to achieve this specialization.

A single mental target target is difficult to keep steady for long. Apart from mental interference from 'wandering thoughts' (chains of association) there is the perceptual phenomenon of adaption (if something is judged safe and familiar, we tend to ignore it). In practice, concentration is available for periods of 15 seconds to 3 minutes depending on the individual. Here are some exercises to improve attention & orientation:


  • Orienting attention

Sit facing a screen and play any video with the sound off (or a TV with anything on will do, but make sure to mute the sound.) Now fix your attention on one corner of the screen (say the top right) and say aloud everything recognizable that comes into that corner (it's best to do this when on your own) : )

Your may end up saying stuff like “blue sky/ spiky shape/ bit of a word/ someones ear/ hair in the wind/ car roof/...” and so on; whatever appears in the corner. When you can do this without being distracted by the image on the entire screen, you go to level 2 and do it with the sound on. Level 3 you learn to do it silently in your mind (just think the things in words instead of speaking them aloud) and if you get that far you'll find your attention is much more controllable than it used to be.

  • “Stop-motion”

This exercise is best done whenever you have some free time, as it looks a bit odd to the external observer.

At random times during the day, when you are in the middle of doing something, stop moving. Try to ‘freeze’ without tensing your muscles or going floppy, as though you were in a video that was suddenly paused. Hold your pose for 15 seconds [just count, don’t look at your watch] then continue with whatever you were doing. During the 15 seconds try to keep as still as possible without changing your muscular tension or holding your breath. Use your common sense -don’t decide to do this exercise halfway through coming downstairs or getting into the bath!

If you find it difficult to remember to do this at first, leave yourself a note somewhere you are bound to go during the day at some point, for example in your bathroom or bedroom. Train yourself to remember to do the exercise without notes.

Practising this exercise once or twice a day will improve your sensorimotor and spatial memory, and also your balance and poise. Because of the way the brain works, you may find your appreciation of music improves too.


  • Exercise for spatial association

Let’s give your memory a bit of exercise. You can do this at work or in a library or cafĂ©, etc. Get a piece of paper and sketch a rough floor-plan of your home, indicating the shape of rooms, roughly but not necessarily strictly to scale. On your plan, write down the color of the floor covering in each room and name the largest item of furniture in that room. If you only live in one room, you must name six items in the room and the color of the walls.

If you can’t remember, or to check if you are right, go and have a look as soon as you are able, and the next time you are away from home try this exercise again.

When you get it right, you can design your own exercises of this nature, using other places you have been as the targets to sketch and describe. When you first visit a new place, try to sketch your surroundings from memory as soon as possible, maybe on the first night, in bed, so that you can check what you missed when visiting them again the next day. Drawing streetmaps of areas is another good version of this exercise. You can also try remembering items out of a picture and making a rough sketch of what is where. Choose places and pictures that you like, so that it’s more fun to do this exercise.

You are improving your spatial and associative memory in doing this exercise. If you practise it regularly you will start to notice that you are becoming naturally more observant on first encounters than you were previously. Using this network sharpens it up, and it starts taking more notice of your surroundings because it is getting into the habit of being aware that “this information might be needed later”. [The brain doesn’t know that you are merely doing exercises, which is why this is also a sort of hack.] It just goes ahead and improves its memory performance because this is what “seems to be expected of it.”

  • For increasing rear net density

MRI detects localized density increase after people learn mirror reading (the right occipital cortex, navigation (hippocampus) and three-ball juggling (bilateral mid-temoporal area and left posterior intraparietal sulcus) [89]

Exercises for improving or enhancing eidetic memory & association skills in N3

“Word Association Football”

You can play this alone or with others. You need a pen and paper or a word processing program.


To play alone:

Begin with a keyword from one of these categories:


 An enjoyable emotion [eg happiness, love, excitement, rectitude, contentment]


  • A material object [eg box, bag, stick, car, window, hat]

  • A month of the year

  • A time of day

  • An insect, bird or animal

  • A form of travel [eg walking, driving, flying, swimming, sailing]

  • A field of study [eg physics, maths, geography, entomology]

  • An organic object [eg tree, plant, river, star, fire, mountain]

  • A first name [eg Mary, Fred, Abdul, Maiko, Jean]

  • A genre of music [eg opera, rap, rock & roll, trance, folk, heavy metal]

  • A placename, factual or fictional [eg New York, Utopia, The Amazonian rainforest, Osaka, Seleya on the planet Vulcan]

  • An abstract word that doesn’t mean anything in any language you know, but is pronounceable [eg Blarthe, Wip, Nogoim, Plid]


    Put your keyword at the top of the page. Now choose a word from each of the remaining categories to represent or associate with your starting word.

    Here’s my own example:


Material object: Party popper

Month of year: December

Time of day: night

Insect, bird or animal: kitten

Form of travel: flight

Field of study: humor

Organic object: pond

First name: Cosmo

Genre of music: dance

Placename: stonehenge

Abstract word: Wizzo


Now choose a keyword from among your answers and begin again. Put the new keyword at the top of a new page, and do not look back at the previous page as you make new associations.

As you look back and observe the progress of ideas along the trees of association you’ll learn a lot about how your mind associates things, where it has difficulties establishing associations and where it finds many, easy associations. You’ll also see how some ideas carry over in your memory from one page to the next and how some don’t. The ones that do are the strongest associations.

Vary your practice by choosing keywords that you find it hardest to find associations for.


To play with others –each person chooses another person’s starting keyword.


  • Association and input control

Select about 10 of the most noticeable objects currently in your room. Note your own associations with each of these objects then note down any new associations that you have learned through studying core categories. How could you change any of the objects to strengthen their healthy associations? Are there any objects that have unpleasant associations and should be changed or discarded? [Obviously that Star Wars wallpaper from a long time ago in a galaxy far far away has to stay!]



Put on your favorite movies and practice mimicking whatever good dialogue or behavior catches your fancy. Concentrate on phrases and behaviors that seem to epitomise the good things about the character whom you are viewing. Maybe their 'catch phrases' that recur in the course of the programme. Repeat these over and over to yourself making minute changes until you are able to reproduce their voice or movements with uncanny authenticity.

Learn how to copy other things; for example find samples of common bird sounds and learn to mimic some of them. In this way not only will you improve your modeling skills but as a cheeky bonus you'll be able to recognise birds by their sounds, signal friends, confuse birdwatchers, and lend your neck of the urban wasteland a quaint pastoral flavour.


  • whats that smell?

"No more games of 'what's that smell'!"

(Kochanski; Red Dwarf)


Smells are recently coming under study for having a more powerful influence on recall than once thought. A familiar odor, good or bad, has the ability to rekindle memories once thought lost.

Alzheimer patients, in addition to their loss of memory, also lose their sense of smell. The two tend to be closely linked. Smell may even enhance the ability to learn. Studies done with memorizing word-lists with an accompanied smell, were more easily recalled in the presence of the same smell.

Playing "What's that smell?" alone or with friends will improve connections in not just the olfactory cortex but also the entorhinal cortex -an area that is important for perception and for memory reconsolidation.


playing alone:

A. Visit some rough ground, garden, field, park or forest in which a variety of plants are growing. Make a systematic map of predominant smells using graph paper and a key. Attempt classification.

B. Visit a market or big store with open shelves. Go systematically around all the counters and smell everything. Take notes. If you are surrepticious enough to avoid being asked to leave, this will prove most insightful.

C. Collect together a number of small samples of substances (for example, potato, onion, apple, cheese, banana, soap, candle wax). Wear gloves so as not to get their odors on your fingers while preparing.

Cut them all to be the same shape and size. Wrap each sample in foil or paper and drop them into an opaque bag, sock or hat.

Blindfold yourself and pick one out at random, open it slightly by tearing and see if you can identify the substance. Remove the blindfold and see if you were right. Repeat until you have done all of them.

The more smells there are, the harder this is. Perfumiers, florists and aromatherapists are able to distinguish between dozens and sometimes hundreds of different odors, and if you improve this sense you will notice that you can often tell the chemical contents of a food or product by sniffing at it.

Try 3 smell combinations and from your notes decide which smells are most pleasant.


playing with a partner or assistant: (Take turns to be assistant)

Assistant: Keep secret from the experimenter which smells you are going to use. The selection of smells for this exercise are best selected over a range - as suggested by the classification mentioned in the context-and paired in roughly equal strengths.

Experimenter: Arrange to be presented with a pair of smells. Identify the two individual smells. If they cannot be named try to describe them. If the separate character of the smells cannot be discerned ask for the name/description of one of the pairs. Does this help guess the other? What smells are easily distinguished? What smells merge?

You can also play the 'samples in hat' version with a partner by preparing smells for each other and seeing which one of you can identify which sorts of smells fastest.


Try 3 smell combinations and from your notes decide which smells are most pleasant to each of you. Do you have any favorite smells in common?



Mental exercises for short term memory [RAM] can be found here:




Exercises for eidetic memory

One occupation in which strong eidetic, procedural and declarative memory are required is spying! During the late nineties (and as far as we know, currently) UK’s MI5/6 gave the following five exercises to their trainee intelligence operatives:


1. Take regular snapshots

Look up from whatever you are doing and memorise the scene around you for a minute or two. Then close your eyes and try to recreate it in your mind’s eye. The first impression probably seems very strong but if you zoom in on the details –the titles on the spines of books or the view outside a window or the pattern on a cushion, for examples, you will probably find they go a little fuzzy. This is because enough neurons are firing to give you a low resolution inner picture, but not enough to provide fine details. Practising this exercise at least once each day will improve your eidetic memory. As your brain gets the impression that you require more detail about your surroundings the network will naturally increase. You’ll start to see more and more detail in your pictorial memory and this can be increased until it is virtually photographic.

The amount of improvement this can give to memory overall is probably one of the most noticeable changes in NH, and takes a lot of people by surprise.


2. Associate things

It’s best to use lists of things you would actually like to remember for this exercise.

Cells that fire together wire together. If two simple events or bits of information are brought into vivid association with one another then the subsequent occurrence of either of these events will lead to recall to the other. The relationship formed for this purpose may be quite arbitrary as long as it is vivid. First you choose a key object [we chose “fish”]

1. The first word of the list is read out aloud. Simultaneously visualize the item in some relation to fish as strongly as possible.

2. The second word is then read out aloud and visualized similarly. Make the images exaggerated and fantastic.

3. Now imagine an active relationship between the two images.

4. Having made this connection vividly, dismiss it from the mind and read aloud the third word and visualize it in some association with fish.

5. Now relate the third image to the second.

6. Dismiss from the mind, read aloud the fourth word, visualize it in connection with fish. Using this process you can remember a list of words; by thinking of the adventures of the key object the words are recalled in a chain of associations.

Example: Porridge, scouring pads, thumb tacks, printer cartridge, etc.

1. Porridge – with a fish on top of it –an imaginary Scottish dish.

2. Scouring pads – I am cleaning the scales off a fish with them.

3. Porridge + scouring pads – Obviously I am cleaning the porridge off the fish. Dismiss this relationship from mind

4. Thumb tacks – I am pinning a fish to a noticeboard.

5. Scouring pads and thumb tacks – having cleaned the fish, I’m pegging it out to dry. Dismiss this relationship from your mind.

6. Printer cartridge – The ink smells of fish.

7. Thumb tacks and printer cartridge – But perhaps I got fish smell on the cartridge because I only just tacked that fish to a board.

Examples are of limited use as it is to a great extent a process that relates to personal humor preferences and experience.

Practice learning a different list of 10-20 items each day for a week. Each day test yourself by running through the previous lists. You may find the process laborious at first but after practice the visualized associations may be made at great speed. After the initial week, practice as the chance comes along on such things as shopping lists or key words in notes.


3. Remember everything is multipurpose

Collect a miscellany of 50 small objects, (pencils, coins, cards, mechanical bits, containers, buttons, rubber bands, batteries etc) in a cardboard box or bag. They should perferably all be different. When you've got your collection, tip them out onto the floor and look them over.

How many ways can you think of arranging the objects in a meaningful associated way, e.g., according to shape and size, color, frequency of use, value etc.?

What aesthetic/ergonomic preferences have you got?

What’s the most stable way to make a pile out of all of them?

What tools could be made out of them or combinations of them?

Which ones could you use for improvising a tool for breaking out of a locked room?

If you could only take ten of them to a desert island for a week with no other kit, which ones would you take?

Which ones could you use for improvising a defensive weapon?

How do the associations you observe relate to bigger issues such as the arrangement of furniture in a room, or technology in a building?


4 Adapt familiar procedures

If your memory has experience of the possibilities of variation it will apply the new knowledge to all other memories and all perception.

Turn your mouse round, so that moving it left and up makes the cursor move right and down. Practise using it like this.

Apply similar rules to ordinary everyday tasks –do them with the opposite hand. Try reading upside down, picking up pencils with your toes and getting them into jars, cleaning your teeth and writing your signature with the opposite hand.

Try tying and untying knots in a string with one hand only (you are allowed to use your teeth)

Go about your daily business favoring your non-dominant hand for 24 hours.

When you kneel to pick something up, which knee goes down first? Try kneeling on the other knee.

What changes do you notice in your procedural performance on swapping back?

(To be done at home) Get on a wheeled office chair and keep your feet off the floor by whatever means (resting them on the chair legs or edge of chair seat is usual). Sit on your hands or keep them on the chair arms. Your mission is to navigate around the room and without using any limbs, write a note saying, "help I'm trapped in this office chair".

How do these experiences affect your reasoning when viewing the objects on a room?


5. Look, check, memorize

You will need a notebook or similar.

The making of lists is in itself an external aid to memory. A list (or mind map) allows items to be reorganized in a manner that the memory may more easily absorb. The structure of the list might suggest things that are missing, and also priorities may be evaluated.

Basic method:

Make a list of about 20 things of different categories (for example a fruit, a mammal, a car, a tree, a computer, a rock, a TV etc)

Arrange the list so that associated things are placed together (for example fruit, tree, mammal, rock, computer, TV, car)

Read the list through at a regular rhythm. Then covering the list with a sheet of paper, remember the first word. Move the paper down to reveal the 1st word - look, check, memorize. Try and remember the 2nd word, whilst it is still covered. Move the paper down to reveal the 2nd word - look, check, memorize. Repeat for the 3rd word - and continue through the list. Keep going through the list in this way until each item is anticipated correctly. Repeat a few more times. Now run through the list several times out aloud, faster and without the copy.

When you are out and about, stop in front of any window displaying a variety of items, or any car park containing a variety of vehicles. Observe the items and categorize them in your mind making a mental list of what is there, then turn your back or move away. Take out your notebook and write down what items you can remember in order by association.

Look, check, memorize. Check your result by looking again. The second time you turn away, add any missing items to your list. When you get it right first time, increase the number of items, or increase the detail (for example, how many car registration numbers can you remember? Chances are you will start by remembering only one or two, but this can be increased with practice to nine or ten!)

When you are in public places where people mostly stand still, view the assortment of people around you and imagine you will have to describe them later. Turn away and try to remember each individual -could you describe them clearly?

Look, check, memorize. Turn back and check your acuity -what is missing? Then turn away again and see if you can make a better description.

When you are in unfamiliar rooms or buildings, play 'look, check, memorize' with a description of the room or building, but make sure you will be allowed to stay long enough to check!

exercises to improve procedural memory in N4:


Mental exercises for long term memory can be found here:




  • Do jigsaw puzzles.

    Sounds too easy but it works. You’ll find your association recall gets much faster if you do them regularly. If you can't find any with pictures you like, make your own!

Play with codes

  • Write down the letters of the alphabet and put the numbers 1-26 above them.

    Write yourself notes using the numbers only and read them in a week’s time, seeing if you can remember what they say. An even better method is to work with a partner and write each other coded notes that you then have to decipher. Practise working out what the code would be for random phrases or words, in your head without using pen and paper.

If you speak two or more languages, practise translating phrases from one to the other.

Mind maps improve eidetic memory too.

  • Exercises for improving declarative memory in N5

Choose one page of any fiction book at random and read through it once. Put the book away out of your sight and answer the following questions:


Who was the main character mentioned on that page?


  1. What other characters were mentioned on the page?

  2. What were the main objects referred to on the page?

  3. How much information do you have that tells you where the action was talking place?

  4. How much information do you have that tells you when the events were taking place?

  5. If there was speaking, who spoke?

  6. What was the most significant event occurring on the page?

  7. What was the number of the page?


You can vary this technique and use it with non-fiction, magazine articles, film reviews and whatever you want to play with.


  • Do crosswords

-but not with cryptic clues. By challenging ourselves to retrieve or generate answers we can improve our recall.

  • Test yourself

Experiments show that with retrieval practice, everything gets substantially better ("everything" includes target memory; cue for the stimulus that evinces the target; and association of the relationships between things. [83]

Pretend you are setting an exam or quiz for students of the subject you are learning. If you study in this mode, noting down the issues it will be important for students to remember and what sort of questions you could ask to see if they have the basics, you can often pre-empt an entire exam and predict many of the actual questions!

  • Exercise for N5 & N6

Give the different letters of the alphabet the numerical values 1-26 [A=1, B=2 etc]. Try to think of words in which the sum of the letters adds up to 40. Next time you can use a different figure.

  • Exercise for improving working memory in N6

Open any book at random 6 times and write down the first word on each page you arrive at. Hide the list out of your sight and wait five minutes [just get on with your daily tasks].

After 5 minutes, write down a random list of four two-figure numbers. Hide the numbers out of your sight and immediately try to write them down a second time from memory.

Now try to remember as many words from the first list as you can.

Now check your words & numbers against you original lists.

Finally, write a few short sentences describing something you did last summer [where, when, what, why, who with].

If you had difficulty with the last task, your long term memory needs attention [do exercises to improve LTP].



Working memory clipboard augmenting (needs assistant or programmable way of randomizing items):


The assistant reads out loud to you [or you read through once on a screen] a set of random digits or words. The sets should consist of from 2 to 10 items. You repeat them immediately following the reading. The assistant then increases the list size until forgetting is consistent. With practice, you can more than double your clipboard capacity.

A similar experiment may also be arranged using letters of the alphabet, different colors, nouns, simple geometrical shapes or short phrases.

Unusually high scores in working memory clipboard retention are possible if the sets are mentally organized into sub-groups are then given their own label or code.


  • Exercise for all networks

Sit down comfortably and link your hands together in your lap. Pick an issue you would like to consider –this can be any subject, problem or question.

Looking at your hands, consider the physical material aspects of the problem or issue. How does the subject relate to you physical or material health and wellbeing?

Look straight ahead. Consider any emotional aspects of the subject you have in mind. Now think about how imagination might be applied to it.

Look up and to your right. Keep your eyes in that position as you consider how creativity relates to the subject in mind. How might the issue affect groups and individuals?

Look up and to your left and think about the intellectual aspects of the issue. How confident do you feel about your understanding of it?

Look straight upwards [lean your head back against a cushion if you want, but do not lie down] and decide what are your priorities and where this issue ranks by comparison. [Remember to keep ‘sanity’ and ‘health’ up at the top or you won’t be in any good shape to decide the others!] Consider whether or not you need more information in order to adequately understand whatever you are thinking about to your own satisfaction. If the issue is a problem, now is when you consider the solution. If it is a subject you are interested in, ask yourself in which areas have you learned enough?


just for fun: test spatial imagination

Which of the shapes below does not match the test object? [answer at end of tutorial]




Last Updated on Sunday, 17 October 2021 11:28