You Can Have An Amazing Memory – Dominic O’Brien Book Summary

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Dominic O’Brien is an 8 time world memory champion and can boast of being able to remember a string of 2,385 binary digits in 30 minutes and nearly 100 decks of cards in order. If you want to learn to memorize things then Dominic is your man, and of course you want to be able to memorize things as we live in a knowledge era: the people who learn and remember the most essential knowledge dominate in our world.

His books really does live up to the title, many of the simple tips he gave helped to drastically improve my memory skills in a ver short period of time, just minutes. I know my memory improved because he gave some benchmark tests at the beginning and end of the book. I will do the same in this article and hopefully the advice he gives will help with your memory.

Benchmark Test

Try and remember the words listed in the sequence below in the correct order within one minute, once the minute is up cover the words and attempt to rewrite them in the correct order. You get one point for every word you remember in its correct place and lose one mark for every incorrect word or wrongly placed word. Record your score to review later.

Violin

Orchestra

Pencil

Knight

Herring

Stamp

Suitcase

File

Rainbow

Necklace

Window

Carpet

Snowball

Table

Peach

How The Brain Works

Now here’s the tips for you to get your memory up to speed. In his book Dominic explains how the brain works, as you probably know the brain has two main parts, the left hemisphere and the right hemisphere both of which do different jobs. The general consensus is that the left hemisphere  is logical (good for maths) whilst the right hemisphere is imaginative (good for art). However this is too much of a clear-cut definition and it turns out both parts of the brain seem to do a bit of both, the newest theory is that the right hemisphere deals with the bigger picture whilst the left hemisphere deals with the details.

Dominic uses speech as an example, our left hemispheres deal with he exact meaning of a phrase for example if we are told to “get out of here” then our left hemisphere will tell us to leave. But our right hemisphere will analyse the speech more laterally, it will pick up on humour or mannerisms, whether the person is being sarcastic or literal. It sees speech in a wider more open frame.

Using Your Brains Anatomy Effectively

So how does this relate to memory recall? Dominic believes our memory is optimised when both sides of the brain work together, this is achieved through the principle of association, when logical thoughts are linked to more creative ones. For example you may think of a pineapple and have to remember it, the left side of the brain will just see the word pineapple and try to store it in your memory, this is not a very effective way to remember things. Repeating words to yourself doesn’t work well.

Therefore you need to incorporate the creative right side of your brain, instead of just seeing the word “pineapple” you can feel the rough texture of the outside, smell the sweet scent as it is cut open see the bright yellow colour and taste the sharp taste of the pineapple. When you can do all this the memory become vivid, it becomes a real thing that you experience and it is therefore far easier to remember.

So to have a good memory you need to first master the art of turning logical thoughts into what, for all intents and purposes, are real sensuous experiences.

The Story Method

Dominic suggests the story method to be the best way to learnt o develop you memory and it is initially used for remembering strings of words. You will take each object, turn it into something real and tangible in your mind and link them together into one long story, this troy will be easy to remember because you can live it, you can walk through the story and experience every aspect of it, imbedding it into your mind.

Below is another sequence of words that you are to remember, I will walk you through the beginning of a story that you could use to remember the items.

Bicycle

Computer

Ladder

Pillow

Camera

Boomerang

Cake

Diary

Soap

Giraffe

Stapler

Car

Paper

Women

Door

Here is the beginning of a story that immediately comes to my mind, I am riding a bicycle along a road, my legs are tired and I am sweating. As I ride along I see a computer for sale on the side of the road, I’ve wanted one for ages so I immediately stop and run over to the computer with excitement. On the computer screen is a picture of a ladder, this makes me feel confused and inquisitive.

You notice how I incorporated my feelings into it, the tired legs the excitement of getting an new computer, this is a key technique to memory, the more real it feels the better you will remember it. So now spend a minute coming up with your own story, make it feel as real as possible. Then at the end of the minute stop and attempt to rewrite the list from memory, score yourself and see if you have improved.

Further Advancements

Dominic later talks about the details of remembering decks of cards, strings of numbers and relating names of faces. He delves into much more sophisticated methods of memory that are required to become a memory champion. If you are interested in developing a mind capable of unimaginable feats of memorization then read his book here:

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Image credit: Todd Klassy Flickr

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