Answers Activity 45
Think of the mental maps you use to find your way around the places you live and work. Which way up do you picture towns and cities you know well? Which details are highlighted, which ones blurred? Just as the map of London used by passengers on the Underground is different from the one used by drivers above ground, so your mental framework differs from that of other people. We also use frameworks to organise more abstract information. Many people say that they can visualise the position of key passages in books or documents. Mention a point made by the author, and they can recall and respond to it by picturing it in relation to other key points within the larger framework they see in their mind's eye. On a chaotic-looking desk, it is often possible to see a mental picture of where the key pieces of paper are and find a particular document in seconds.
We all have our own natural strategies for structuring information, for altering and re-arranging it in our mind's eye. You can take control of your thinking by increasing your control of the mental frameworks you create. Since Ancient Roman times, a specific framing technique has been used to improve memory and boost clarity of thought. The concept is simple: you design an empty framework, based on the shape of a building you know well, and get used to moving around its rooms and hallways in your mind. Whenever you have information to remember, you place it in this 'virtual storehouse'. Whatever it is you are learning - words, numbers, names, jobs, ideas - you invent pictorial clues to represent each one. The mind prefers images to abstract ideas, and can retain vast numbers of visual clues. Just as advertisers bring concepts to life with key images, you highlight the important points in a batch of information and assign each of them an illustration.
Memory and place are closely linked. Have you ever walked upstairs, forgotten what you went for, but remembered when you returned to where you were standing when you first had the thought? When you are trying to learn new information, it makes sense to use the mind's natural tendencies. In your mind, you return to the imaginary rooms in your 'virtual storehouse", and rediscover the images you left there. Cicero, perhaps the greatest orator in history, is reputed to have used this technique to recall complex legal arguments, addressing the Roman Senate from memory for days on end. You can use it to remember all the employees in your new workplace, the jobs you have to do in a day, month or year, subject headings for a complex piece of work, or the facts you need to have at your fingertips under pressurised circumstances.
The system of combining images and ideas works so well because it involves 'global thinking', bringing together the two 'sides' of your brain. The left side governs logic, words, numbers, patterns and structured thought - the frameworks you build - and the right side works on random thoughts, pictures, daydreams - the memorable imagery you fill them with. The fearless, imaginative creativity of the child combines with the patterning, prioritising, structured thinking of the adult. The memory is activated with colours and feelings, as you create weird, funny, exciting, surreal scenes; and the information is kept under control by the organised frameworks you design. Imagination is the key. You enter a new dimension, dealing with information in a form that suits the way the mind works. In this accessible form, huge amounts of data can be carried around with you. You never again have to search around for an address book, diary or telephone number on a scrap of paper. Your memory becomes a key part of your success, rather than the thing you curse as the cause of your failure.
Bringing information into the field of your imagination helps you to explore it in greater depth and from different angles. Storing it in the frameworks of your mind allows you to pick out key details but also to see the big picture. You can use your trained memory to organise your life: to see the day-to-day facts and figures, names, times and dates, but also to keep in touch with your long-term goals. By understanding the way your mind works, you can make yourself memorable to others. Give your thoughts a shape and structure that can be grasped and others will remember what you have to say. You can take your imaginative grasp of the world to a new level and, by making the most of mental frames, you can put the information you need at your disposal more readily.
WHICH PARAGRAPH MENTIONS THE
things that you will not need if you adopt a
certain mental technique
using an image of a familiar place to help you
being able to think about both particular
points and general points
things that you may not have a clear mental
something which appears to be disorganised
annoyance at your inability to remember things
bearing in mind what you want to achieve in
an example of an industry in which people use
an everyday example of failure to keep
information in the mind
the impact a certain mental technique can have
on people listening to what you say
an assertion that certain things can be kept
in your mind more easily than others
information that it is essential to recall in
being able to consider things from various
points of view
things that come into your mind in an
remembering written work by imagining it in
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