34 Matching Annotations
  1. May 2021
    1. To more easily memory text verbatim, practice methods for reclling the information rather than simply repeating it.

    1. Lynne Kelly describes her experiences with some elementary school students using her rapscallions, songlines, and a woodhenge to memorize their math and social studies classwork and present it to their peers.

    2. I had always assumed – without realising the assumption – that the ancient knowledge keepers would have progressed around the henge posts or stones much as I do around a memory palace. It hadn’t occurred to me that there may be experts on each topic, ‘owning’ each post or stone and the knowledge it represented. Is there any way the archaeology could ever tell us if this is the case?

      Personally, I had assumed from Kelly's work that individual knowledge keepers may have done this. Particularly in the cases of the most advanced and protected knowledge based on the private spaces she discussed.

      The question about archaeology being able to tell us is a very good one. Nothing immediately comes to mind, but it's worthwhile to look at this. Could some artifacts indicate different artists through their own craft be a way of differentiation?

    1. With some continued clever searching today along with some help from an expert in Elizabethan English, I've found an online version of Robert Copland's (poor) translation from the French, some notes, and a few resources for assisting in reading it for those who need the help.

      The text:

      This is a free text transcription and will be easier to read than the original black-letter Elizabethan English version.

      For those without the background in Elizabethan English, here are a few tips/hints:

      For the more obscure/non-obvious words:

      Finally, keep in mind that the letter "y" can often be a printer's substitution for the English thorn character) Þ, so you'll often see the abbreviations for "the" and as an abbreviation for "that".

      Copland's original English, first printing of Ravenna can be accessed electronically through a paid Proquest account at most universities. It is listed as STC 24112 if you have access to a firewall-free site that lets you look at books on Early English Books Online (EEBO). A photocopy can be obtained through EEBO reprints on Amazon. Unless you've got some reasonable experience with Elizabethan black-latter typography, expect this version to be hard to read. It isn't annotated or modernized.

      @ehcolston I'm curious to hear what the Wilson/Pena text looks like. I'm guessing it's not scholarly. I think Wilson is a recent college grad and is/was a publishing intern at a company in the LA Area. I'm not sure of Pena's background. I suspect it may be a version of the transcribed text I've linked with a modest updating of the middle English which they've self-published on Amazon.

      Of course, given the multiple translations here, if anyone is aware of a more solid translation of the original Latin text into English, do let us know. The careful observer will notice that the Latin version is the longest, the French quite a bit shorter, and the English (Copland) incredibly short, so there appears to be some untranslated material in there somewhere.

    2. I haven't searched all the versions of Peter of Ravenna's name (yet) in all locations, but I recall hearing of an Italian version as well (and it's likely that there was one given its popularity).

      A bit of digging around this morning has uncovered a digital copy of a French translation in the Bibliothèque interuniversitaire de santé (Paris).:

      Given the date and the scant 16 pages, this is likely to be the edition which was the source of Robert Copland's English translation. As the edition doesn't appear to have an author, it's possible that this was the reason that Copland's translation didn't list one either.

      The Latin -> French -> middle English -> modern English route seems an awfully muddy way to go, but without anything else, it may have to suffice for some of us for the moment.

    3. No offense, but do you expect every professor to take a field trip with their class each lecture? Let’s be realistic here. How about the students get a workshop on it in the first week (and a book for all I care) and then learn to apply these techniques as they see fit outside the classroom.

      The article is about applying these techniques at the highest levels of education, at the point where the learners have already gone through 16+ years of intensive study. I wouldn't expect college professors to go on outings. But why not center these techniques and make them more mainstream at the lowest levels of education starting in kindergarten and for the first six years of formal education? Then they can become daily habits to make learning at the higher levels far easier.

      The interesting, and all-too-often ignored, feature of most colleges and universities is that they are on expansive campuses with large numbers of buildings, grounds, and surrounding neighborhoods which could specifically be used to create massive memory palaces or extended local songlines.

      Or not… some people prefer rote learning for certain actives

      Some may prefer rote memorization, though I don't personally know many who do, and I expect that most probably don't. This research study specifically underlines evidence that these Australian methods are easier and more "fun". The bigger issue is that the vast majority aren't presented with any options for alternate methods anywhere in their educations. I would suspect that the vast majority here in the forums are 15 years old or far beyond by the time they hear about these alternate methods.

      [...] others find “song, dance, painting” a little too new age to take it seriously… not passing judgement, but everyone is entitled to their opinion.

      Everyone is entitled to their opinion and you certainly have yours. I feel as if you have, however, passed judgment and simultaneously denigrated them (in my opinion) by labeling them "new age". The research article itself states:

      The foremost consideration with respect to teaching of the Australian Aboriginal memory technique is the cultural safety aspect and respect for the peoples who developed this approach. In our program, the teaching of this program was administered by an experienced Australian Aboriginal Educator, who was able to integrate the method into our teaching program, while simultaneously preventing several breaches of cultural etiquette and terminology which could easily have compromised the material had it been delivered by a non-Australian Aboriginal educator (TY), however well-intentioned.

      They're specifically mentioning here the lack of respect and attention (usually from Westerners, which I suspect includes you) that these methods are given outside of their home culture. I would suggest that you don't value these approaches because they weren't centered or focused on in your own cultural education. As a result you're missing out on the value they do contain, of which the research study under discussion provides direct peer reviewed evidence. Incidentally the metrical system you wish were centered is exactly the sort of technique that is already built into many indigenous systems and was very likely even embedded into ancient Greek culture, but it has long since disappeared and was nearly completely snuffed out by (religious) Western education reformers in the late 1500's.

      I'd recommend looking at Dr. Lynne Kelly's texts The Memory Code: The Secrets of Stonehenge, Easter Island and Other Ancient Monuments (Pegasus, 2017) and Songlines: The Power and Promise (First Knowledges) (Thames & Hudson, 2020) (with Dr. Margo Neale) for more details on some of these cultural traditions which have a more nuanced and respectful approach.

      Too often here in these forums, and in life, people treat these these mnemonic techniques as "clever hacks", when, for many current and past cultures, they were a literal way of both life and survival.

      Let’s face it, be it law school, med school, or b-school… students manage to graduate with or without techniques at the moment, so it’s not like we desperately need memory techniques in higher education.

      This is an incredibly privileged perspective. Sure these students do manage to graduate, but you're also looking a minuscule proportion of the most highly educated people on the planet. For perspective, in 2018–2019, 21,622 applicants were accepted to allopathic (MD) medical schools out of the 52,777 who applied, for an overall acceptance rate of 41% in the United States. The accepted people represent roughly 0.0003 percent of the world's population. This number doesn't get much bigger (or rosier) when you expand the population to those in all graduate schools world wide.

      I've got several hundred friends and acquaintances who did either MDs or combined MD/Ph.D. programs and very few would say their studies were easy. Why not make it easier? Why not make these methods more widespread? Why not provide them to everyone? Imagine the number who could have not only an easier time, but greater knowledge, (and more fun!)? Very few of the practicing physicians I know could still diagram the TCA-cycle described in the paper, but if you could have a more knowledgeable physician treat you, wouldn't you want that? Wouldn't you want a more educated and happier society all around?

      …I’d call that stone garden a “memory palace.” Is there an outdoor element or something that memory palaces supposedly don’t have? I really don’t get how this is different. I use outdoor memory palaces all the time

      The stone garden certainly is a memory palace for those who wish to use it that way. However, from the Australian Aboriginal perspective, there are additional layers of narrative, movement, (and potentially song, dance, and art, etc.) layered on top of it to enrich the experience. It's unfortunate that the paper doesn't go deeper into the subtleties or differences, but they're also making at least some attempt to show respect to the culture from which the technique stems. This is a place where Drs. Kelly and Neale's Songlines text may help provide additional depth and perspective, though even it would be limited in comparison with embedding yourself within a culture to have indigenous elders to teach you directly.

    1. MMScotofGlasgow

      @MMScotofGlasgow, Hopefully it's not too late...

      Francis Yates discusses Petrus Ramus as an educational reformer in Chapter 10 and onward in The Art of Memory. There she outlines Ramus' crusade against images (based in part on the admonition from 4 Deuteronomy about graven images) and on their prurient use (sex, violence, etc.) which were meant to make things more memorable. Ramism caught on in the late 1500's and essentially removed memory by the root from the subject of rhetoric of which it had been an integral part. Ramus felt that structure and rote memorization would suffice in its stead. As a result the method of loci decreased in prominence in schools and disappeared from the scene based on educational reform which was primarily pushed by Huguenot/Protestants. I've not read anywhere that the practice was ever banned, it just fell out of fashion due to these reforms.

      I'm sure it didn't help that printed books became ever cheaper during/after this time and so the prior need to memorize for those reasons wasn't helped either.

      I'm sure another confounding factor was Erasmus' Copia: Foundations of the Abundant Style (1512) which dramatically popularized the keeping and use of commonplace books by the learned and literate. These became a regular place in which people collected and kept their thoughts and ideas rather than memorizing them as they may have done in the past.

    1. I've found several digital copies in Latin:

      I've come across a recent text The Memory Arts in Renaissance England: A Critical Anthology edited by William E. Engel, Rory Loughnane, and Grant Williams (Cambridge University Press, 2016). (Google books should let you preview most of it, if it helps.) It contains an extended excerpt of about 5 pages of The Phoenix from the opening three chapters of Robert Copland's translation, which they consider weak. They also include a synopsis of the other 9 chapters. Copland apparently didn't acknowledge Ravenna as the original author, not did he supply the name of the French text he purports to translate.

      I've got feelers out to a few classicists to see if anyone has a personal translation from the Latin that they're willing to share.

      As for the size of the text, I know what you mean. I've recently acquired a 1799 edition of Richard Grey's Memoria Technica which is both smaller and denser than I had expected.

      This also reminds me that I've been wanting to re-publish copies of some of the public domain classical memory texts (and/or translations) in modern typesetting/binding as a series. If anyone wants to lend a hand with creating/editing such a thing let me know.

    1. I must stop equating songlines and memory palaces - the professor and student involved see the complexity of songlines as a level higher than memory palaces because so much knowledge and understanding is layered. The first post-grad working on my stuff, and she’s found fault already! And rightly so. They are also arguing against some researcher who claims that the peg system and the method of loci are equivalent. That is part of the research project, but I haven’t read the psychology papers they have sent yet.

      songlines != memory palaces

    1. Place names and songlines together reminds me of a great BBC segment "Disappearing Welsh Names" I saw recently: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yLQ6XlG0MQ4

      It highlights by analogy the value of indigenous culture, knowledge, and creativity which the survival of songlines also provides us with. (It also saddens me because it starkly reminds me of all the knowledge and languages we've lost already.)

      I've been learning Welsh since the pandemic started and just a few simple words of Welsh has given me a far greater appreciation of places in the UK and what they mean. It's helped not only to expand my vocabulary, but increased my creativity in creating local songlines. It's also made it much easier to learn to say and remember the town of Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.

      <table> <thead><tr> <th>Cymraeg</th> <th>Meaning</th> </tr> </thead> <tbody> <tr> <td>Aber</td> <td>Where one river flows into another body of water (example: Aberystwyth)</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Ban, Bannau</td> <td>Peak(s), beacon(s)</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Bron</td> <td>Breast of a hill</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Bryn</td> <td>Hill</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Caer</td> <td>Fort</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Cas</td> <td>Castle</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Crug</td> <td>Hill, tump</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Cwm</td> <td>Valley</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Derw, Deri</td> <td>Oaks</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Dinas</td> <td>Hill-fort</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Dyffryn</td> <td>Valley, vale</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Ffin</td> <td>Border, boundary</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Isaf</td> <td>Lower, lowest</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Llan</td> <td>Church, church land (often followed by the name of the saint to whom the church was dedicated, eg, Llangatwg - a place with a church dedicated to St Catwg)</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Morfa</td> <td>Salt-marsh</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Nant</td> <td>Brook, dingle</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Pont</td> <td>Bridge</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Porth</td> <td>Gate</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Rhos</td> <td>Moor</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Tyle</td> <td>Hill-side, ascent</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Uchaf</td> <td>Upper, highest</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Ystrad</td> <td>Vale</td> </tr> </tbody> </table>

      It also uncovers quirks of place names like Breedon on the Hill which translates from Brythonic, Saxon, and Modern English to "Hill Hill on the Hill" and crystalizes, as if in amber, the fact that Brythonic, Saxon, and English speakers all conjoined for a time on a hill in England. Similarly there's also Barnack Hills in England which translates from old Celtic (barr), Scottish Gaelic (cnoc) and English as "flat topped hill hill hills". It's almost hillarious.

    1. Perhaps you could memorize all the constellations and potentially see if they could serve as double duty?

      I've found The Stars: A New Way to See Them by H.A Rey (yes, the creator of Curious George) to be a comprehensive list with a tremendous number of pictures, charts, useful stories, mythology, etc. for memorizing all the major constellations and many of the common star names and related data. It's ostensibly aimed at a novice audience, but one might also think he was targeting the mnemonists among us as well.

      Should it help in your researching image formation, the phenomenon you mentioned is called pareidolia.

    2. @doughoff Thanks for kicking this off. I'm relieved to see someone else occupied (personally I'm worried) with this topic.

      I've recently begun some work on memorizing birds in North America. Bird song is one of the more intimidating areas for me as I have absolutely zero knowledge of music beyond a pair of functioning ears.

      In my early searches for a comprehensive text to work from, I did note that the book Birds of North America (Golden Field Guides series) by Chandler S. Robbins, & Bertel Bruun, and Herbert S. Zim (St. Martin's Press, 2001) was one of the few guides that dealt with birdsong and had a short section on the subject in the front and listed visual sonograms for most birds. Sadly, the book didn't include audio which I think may have been incredibly helpful in matching the sound with the visuals.

      I have bookmarked a few websites that deal with it, though there are sure to be many others that match birdsong audio to a visual representation of some sort. Here are a few of those:

      Initially I imagined that through direct experience in listening and viewing these sonograms, I might come to some sort of facility with them. Next I would potentially rely on the concept of pareidolia to come up with some images to attach to them.

      In any case, I thought I'd sketch out my general plan and some of the resources and words I'd come across to see if they may be of help to others. I'm looking forward to seeing what others may have come up with or used as well. Birdsong will assuredly be the last piece of the puzzle that I build into my bird repertoire.

      Incidentally, after having done some significant library searching and bird guide/handbook review, I've chosen Birds of North America, Francois Vuilleumier (Dorling Kindersley, 2020, ISBN:978-0-7440-2053-3) as my "bible" for it's structuring of bird families, photographs, descriptions, and variety of data about birds and their ranges. It's about as comprehensive (for my area of the world) as anything out there, is well laid out, and sort of makes its own method of loci based on page layouts and color schemes. It is too large to take out into the field easily, but I find that working on storing the data is easier in the comfort of the house than the wilderness.

      I'll also note that it has representative visual flight diagrams which may be relatively easy to categorize and therefore memorize bird flight patterns. If others have better or more detailed resources for this, I'd love to know those as well.

      bird flight patterns.PNG|630x500, 75%

    1. The limitations associated with the analysis of class-evaluation surveys in Study 2 largely result from the difficulty of extracting precise information from large groups of subjective ratings.

      Such a study might be more profitably done first at the undergraduate level in a pre-med course and then followed up 1-3 years later at the graduate medicine level. In particular, there are many universities that are pre-admitting undergraduates to their graduate programs where these studies, though still possibly small, could be done with reasonable controls and better retention to cover the time differential cases. This is especially the case since many of these biological processes like the TCA cycle, etc are repeated at both levels of education.

    2. However, the degraded performance across all groups at 6 weeks suggests that continued engagement with memorised information is required for long-term retention of the information. Thus, students and instructors should exercise caution before employing any of the measured techniques in the hopes of obtaining a ‘silver bullet’ for quick acquisition and effortless recall of important data. Any system of memorization will likely require continued practice and revision in order to be effective.

      Abysmally sad that this is presented without the context of any of the work over the last century and a half of spaced repetition.

      I wonder that this point slipped past the reviewers and isn't at least discussed somewhat narratively here.

    3. The qualitative data collected in this project clearly indicate that this learning approach is pleasurable and productive in itself, and may well have a role in decreasing the ‘drudgery’ often associated with modern higher education.

      This idea has been known historically for centuries. It's only with education "reforms" in the 1500's that things have become markedly worse in Western education.

    4. It is thus argued that early exposure to the Australian Aboriginal approach to pedagogy in a respectful, culturally safe manner, has the potential to benefit medical students and their patients.

      Forget medical students and patients, this could broadly be applied to everyone everywhere! Why limit it to simply medical education?

    5. As one of the authors recently pointed out [2], the cognitive demands on a person in a low-tech, paleolithic environment equal or exceed the cognitive loads placed on members of industrialized societies.

      I'll have to bump up Tyson Yunkaporta's work on my reading list, particularly the cited text:

      Yunkaporta T. Sand talk: how Indigenous thinking can save the world. Melbourne, Victoria: Text Publishing Company; 2019.

    6. The use of physical location, even in an imagined environment, as a memory aid likely arose as a result of the fact that so much of the essential information stored in memory can be linked to foraging-type behaviours.

      I've thought this before, and sees like I've possibly read, though not captured it. Is there any solid proof of this fact?

      Rat studies of mazes show this sort of spacial memory, but are there similar learned studies in lower animals? C. elegans, drosophila, slime molds, etc.?

    7. Consistent with the notion that exploitation of spatial memory is among the most effective memorization techniques, an early MRI study of competitors in the World Memory Championships showed that 90% of the memory athletes employed some variation of the method of loci for rapid learning and accurate recall of information [30].

      What were the others using? Only the major system perhaps? Or were they the marginal under-performers?

      If there were solid performers in the other 10%, what method(s) were they using?

    8. structural imaging studies of a group of highly trained spatial learners (London taxi drivers) has demonstrated enlargement of specific hippocampal regions corresponding to spatial memory [30],

      Nice to see the taxi driver study pop up here.

      Maguire EA, Valentine ER, Wilding JM, Kapur N. Routes to remembering: The brains behind superior memory. Nature Neuroscience. 2003;6(1):90–5. pmid:12483214 https://doi.org/10.1038/nn988

    9. This study reveals several subtle, but important advantages for teaching of the Australian Aboriginal memorization method as compared to the more widely known memory palace technique. In particular the Australian Aboriginal method seems better suited to teaching in a single, relatively short instruction period. This is evidenced by the increased probability of obtaining complete recall of the target list after a 20 minute teaching period, and the pronounced improvement in correct sequencing of information which was observed compared to the memory palace approach.

      Here's the tl;dr version of the study:

      Australian Aboriginal memorization methods >> Western method of loci methods

    10. Our data clearly indicate that narrative-based memory techniques employing variations of the method of loci: 1) can improve short-term retention of complex, ordered sets of information with a single training session;

      This was not, or should not have been in question, however, it's always nice to have studied it and have data to back up the assertion.

    11. Most (95%) students indicated that they found the technique effective, and over half (56%) indicated that they would definitely employ the method in their future studies.

      However, I suspect that without prompting or repeated uses and examples, the percentage of students who actually do is likely abysmally poor.

    12. Another student comments: “[it p]rovided a quick and easy technique which allowed me to learn the citric acid cycle almost effortlessly.”

      This is a pretty mean feat given the complexities of what the citric acid cycle entails, even with a story of what it is and what the starting and ending reactants are, and a basic starting knowledge of the organic chemistry involved.

      In my experience almost all microbiology students and medical students dislike this commonly memorized cycle.

    13. Incoming medical students overwhelmingly felt that training on specific memory techniques would be helpful, with 93% indicating ‘strongly agree’ (51/72; 71%) or ‘somewhat agree’ (17/72; 23%) in response to the question: “Specific memory training as a component of medical education would be worth my while”.

      How can something like this that so many people find worthwhile be so neglected by any school, much less a medical school?

      Our educational system is really failing our students.

      Damn you Peter Ramus!

    14. here was a noticeable decrease in recall performance among the students trained in the Australian Aboriginal method after 6 weeks, with the participants in that group indistinguishable from the untrained recall group. However, this observation should be treated with caution, as the sample was too small for accurate quantification of performance.

      This is a bit surprising, though the (N=3) numbers were so small.

      It also makes me wonder if the Aboriginal method training included a spaced repetition component of any sort as traditionally it likely would, though it's highly likely that novices memorizing a random list of butterflies wouldn't have reviewed over their performance a week, a month, or other intervals later.

    15. Participants were instructed to associate items to be remembered with specific objects and locations in the imagined space, with as much detail as possible (e.g. a red lamp with an adjustable shade and a power switch in the center of the lamp base sitting on a desk to the left hand side of the entrance to the room. As items were added to the memory list, each new item was associated with an object and position in the imagined room. To recall items, participants were instructed to imagine themselves walking into the room, approaching each object and location which had a list item associated with it, and to attempt to recall the list item in conjunction with the imagined object.

      No instruction about the five senses, exaggeration, hyperbole, etc?

      Given how much I see missing here in the Western method which I'm more versed, I wonder what I'm missing with the Australian method which I'm well aware of, but not as versed?

    16. After 10 minutes, the word lists were collected and students were asked to write down as many of the list items as they could recall within five minutes.

      Were students asked or told if they'd be tested with this on long-term memory?

      Personally, I'd have used a simple major system method to memorize such a list for short term memory, but would have used other techniques for long term memory.

    17. They were also instructed not to mark or write on the word list, and not to use their mobile phones or any other electronic devices or aids to assist in the activity.

      Doing this specifically prevents the non-mnemotechniques group from adding their own visual loci in the form of annotations, drolleries, etc.

    18. Group 1 participants received particular instruction in Western memory techniques. Group 2 students received instruction in the Australian Aboriginal technique.

      What was the instruction? How long did it last? Was it reviewed at a later interval?

    19. The Australian Aboriginal method resulted in approximately a 3-fold greater probability of improvement to accurate recall of the entire word list (odds ratio = 2.82; 95% c.i. = 1.15–6.90), vs. the memory palace technique (odds ratio = 2.03; 95% c.i. = 0.81–5.06) or no training (odds ratio = 1.5; 95% c.i. = 0.54–4.59) among students who did not correctly recall all list items at baseline.

      Keep in mind that these numbers are likely to show even greater disparity in the broader population as the test group, based on their selection as advanced medical students, are likely to be some of the smartest and best studied students to begin with.

  2. Dec 2020
    1. It’s no coincidence that we walk when we need to think: evidence shows that movement enhances thinking and learning, and both are activated in the same centre of motor control in the brain. In the influential subfield of cognitive science concerned with ‘embodied’ cognition, one prominent claim is that actions themselves are constitutive of cognitive processes. That is, activities such as playing a musical instrument, writing, speaking or dancing don’t start in the brain and then emanate out to the body as actions; rather, they entail the mind and body working in concert as a creative, integrated whole, unfolding and influencing each other in turn. It’s therefore a significant problem that many of us are trapped in work and study environments that don’t allow us to activate these intuitive cognitive muscles, and indeed often even encourage us to avoid them.

      I'm curious if Lynne Kelly or others have looked into these areas of research with their Memory work? She's definitely posited that singing and dancing as well as creating art helps indigenous cultures in their memory work.

    2. Mute inner speech can appear as an inner dialogue as well, but its truncated form encourages us to create a ‘secret’ abbreviated language and deploy mental shortcuts. By forcing us to articulate ourselves more fully, self-talk summons up the image of an imagined listener or interrogator more vividly. In this way, it allows us to question ourselves more critically by adopting an external perspective on our ideas, and so to consider shortcomings in our arguments – all while using our own speech.

      I'm also reading this and wondering about memory techniques and methods and how these may interact beneficially.