Elaborative Encoding

Elaborative encoding is a term used by psychologists to refer to techniques that allow us to make information more memorable and therefore easier to learn and recall. These are the sorts of techniques described by Joshua Foer in his book ‘Moonwalking with Einstein’, particularly the ‘Memory Palace’.

According to Joshua, its much easier to remember the profession ‘baker’ than it is to remember the name ‘Baker’. That’s because we have so many more associations to the profession. There are loaves, baquettes and croissants. We imagine people making it. We remember the smell of freshly baked bread. We may even have made it ourselves.

Two important techniques that exploit this aspect of the human brain are ‘The Link System’ and mnemonics.

The Link System
To use the link system, take key words and make rich, visual associations and exagerations between what you are trying to remember and anything else you can associate with it. You can highlight the important words you are using. For example, there are 9 recommendations for increasing ones vitality in ‘Positive Psychology at the Movies’: Develop a sense of purpose, meditate, change your posture, change your environment, exercise, connect with people, live in the moment, be lighthearted, be spontaneous. To remember these, you can imagine a sequence of someone meditating, holding a sword (representing purpose), getting up (changing your posture), wiping away the background (change your environment), breaking into a run (exercise), offering someone a moment (its a type of candy), connecting a rope to them (connect with people), floating upwards (lighthearted) and the bursting into flame (spontaneous). What works for you will be very personal to your own associations but, once you have created a visualisation like the above, you will find it much easier to remember such things.

An acronym to help you remember the qualities of the link system that can help it work is ‘SPACE’ for Stupid, Play on Words, Action, Clear, Easy to See. See the video linked at the end of the article.

Mnemonics involves using certain letters from the set of ideas you are trying to remember. This is similar to the above in that you extract certain key words, but different because you then make another word from their initial letters. For example, in the world of mediation, there are 5 useful concepts to keep in mind while preparing for a mediation: Parties, Issues, Linkages, Option, Timing. These can be recalled more easily with the Mnemonic ‘PILOT‘. There are two types of Mnemonics: Acroynms and Acrostics.  Acronyms is making words (like PILOT) and Acrostics involves making sentences rather than words… the most famous example is EGBDF for ‘Every Good Boy Deserves Favor’.

How does Revunote with Evernote help?

  • Evernote allows you to highlight the important words and phrases with bold, italics, underlining or color.
  • Evernote allows you to note any mnemonics or imagery you are using.
  • Evernote allows you to store any images, or even mindmaps, that can help your memory

For a video on some of the above techniques see here: Long Beach City College – Memory Tricks

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