I am currently reading a book called Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World, by David Epstein, and I came across this activity (listed below). I have only just started to read the book, so I cannot really explain what it is about yet. However, I found this particular exercise super insightful into learning about the human brain.
“Take ten seconds and try to memorize as many of these twenty words as you can:
Because groups twenty patterns
meaningful are words easier into chunk remember
really sentence familiar can to you much in a.
Okay, now try again:
Twenty words are really much easier to
remember in a meaningful sentence because
you can chunk familiar patterns into groups.”
I hope you found this exercise interesting, and I think it really demonstrates that what we consider a good memory is just a concept. I doubt that anyone was able to memorize the first 20 words in 10 seconds, but I am sure that almost everyone could get the second paragraph (the same 20 words!). This is a very simplified example, but it does demonstrate that there are certain ways to manipulate memory abilities.
I have always been interested by the concept of a photographic memory, and how easy it must make life for people who have one; after doing this exercise though, I am curious whether some people are just better at pattern recognition, or what exactly makes them have a photographic memory.