Hack Your Brain: Improving Memory with Dirty Pictures
If you're interested in nabbing superhero memory strength, the secret behind training your brain is not necessarily what you might expect. Your standard G-rated brain strengthening exercises range from crossword puzzles to Sudoku to calculating fairly simple math problems to improve short term memory, but the real clincher used by some of the pros is essentially... porn. Yep, you read right.
Operating on the idea that inappropriate or dirty images are easier to recall than the mundane, Ed Cooke, author and co-founder of Memrise, proposes you associate a raunchy image with what you're trying to remember. Voilà... information successfully locked away in the vault. Cooke is regarded a veteran expert, being one of the world's 36 "Grand Masters of Memory", a title earned by being able to memorize 1,000 random digits in an hour, the order of 10 decks of cards in an hour, and the order of one deck of cards in under two minutes.
According to an article in Salon, Cooke used his debaucherous technique to help Joshua Foer—author of Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything—to snag the U.S. Memory Champion title in just under a year. It's a novel idea, and if you're, um, adventurous and willing, maybe it will help you remember an overcomplicated password, or a nastily long PIN. Here are some tips:
You get Cooke's concept, but now it's up to you to personalize your fantasies to fit your own needs. Stuck? Here's an example: Cooke takes the pin number 3198 and reinvents a risqué story—"Re-imagine it as a 31 year old man with his 98 year old lover."
Like, say, French vocabulary. When attempting to remember the English definition (taken aback) for the French word "interloque", Cooke proposes: "It may be useful to imagine being taken aback when your dining companion interlocks her fingers round your thigh. The link between the French word and what it sounds like in English is given just enough personality by the hint of sexuality here, that it will stick in one's mind far better than a mere repetition."
Cooke says, "I once learned that the French word 'saucer' means to 'wipe with a piece of bread' by imagining my saucy lover wiping me with a piece of bread. When it came in conversation to trying to use this word, though, I was distracted by the weirdness of the image and stuttered."