Jogging memories. Ah, the feeling of tracksuit sliding betwixt my legs, the honking of angry drivers.
December 4, 2007 1:40 PM   Subscribe

How do you jog your memory?

I have a spotty memory. I saw this guy the other day, for example, and I remember that his name is Daniel and that I think he's nice and smart, but don't know where I know him from! I'm also pretty hopeless when I've lost something.

Are there tricks to jogging memories once something's been forgotten?
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur to Grab Bag (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I've learnt from experience that the best way to remember the forgotten is to relax. Don't try to force the memory to the surface.
posted by popcassady at 1:44 PM on December 4, 2007

What popcassady said. You'll remember in about two or three days while thinking about something completely unrelated.
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:48 PM on December 4, 2007

This may sound flippant, but I always think of ketchup when I'm trying to recall something that I know I know, but I just cant access it at the moment. I mean REALLY think of ketchup. Imagine the shape of the bottle, the salty-sweet tomatoey goodness inside, etc. It's just a tool of course but I have often found that focusing on something totally unrelated will often bring about the necessary memory after a few moments.

Or not. Memory is a funny thing. I have absolutely no idea why this works, but it certainly has for me.
posted by elendil71 at 1:50 PM on December 4, 2007

Ketchup is a good metaphor for it - nothing comes out until just the right force is applied, then it's as if nothing happened.
posted by notsnot at 1:59 PM on December 4, 2007

I use Nintendo Big Brain Academy myself.

Mrs Mutant and I each have a copy on the DS, and we compete against each other. I believe it's also available on the Wii and probably other platforms. I know there are Palm and PocketPC clones, perhaps freeware, as well.

Structured as a series of quickly played games, memorisation is featured (in addition to various logic & calculation puzzles).

I found a distinct improvement in my memory, especially short term, from being presented with and memorising increasingly long strings of numbers and characters.

Frequently now in a meeting I find I'm the only person able to remember a full telephone number, country code included, if someone quickly reads it off.

So I'd suggest improving your memory from exercise. It worked for me.
posted by Mutant at 2:11 PM on December 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

Best answer: This article from last year has a bunch of ways that a cognitive scientist used for said jogging on Who Wants to Be A Millionaire?
posted by Calibandage at 2:16 PM on December 4, 2007 [5 favorites]

Think outside of your usual context. He's the greeter at Costco.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 3:11 PM on December 4, 2007

I've found that I have to write things down to remember them. If I just quickly scrawl something on a scrap of paper, I'll remember it - even if I lose the paper or the pen doesn't work; it's the act of writing that does the trick. Granted, this works a lot better for stuff like "call your brother" than "this is the best if drunken idea ever that will make us a million dollars" but still, it seems to be that just jotting something down makes it stick. So I have taken to carrying a pen and a notebook everywhere and I write all kinds of weird stuff down. I look like a reporter or a lunatic, but hey, it works for me.
posted by mygothlaundry at 6:11 PM on December 4, 2007

I've learnt from experience that the best way to remember the forgotten is to relax. Don't try to force the memory to the surface.

Pretty sure this is called the "aha" moment, and it works for me as well, as your brain still works on remembering in the background, but you don't get all stressed about it! :)
posted by ranglin at 6:27 PM on December 4, 2007

I've never really thought about it before. But if I can quite literally 'pick up the scent' of a memory - the smell attached to it. The moment I 'smell' it - it unfolds the entire memory with a flood into something that's purely tangible. Does that make sense...? Ironically the words aren't as tangible.
posted by mu~ha~ha~ha~har at 11:19 PM on December 4, 2007

Best answer: I look inside myself to isolate the feeling of the memory, then go over it repeatedly. It's like meditating on the ringing bell mentioned in the "it rings a bell" cliche. This usually shakes the memory loose and it pops up. The technique requires some practice, and the ability to sink into your head in such a way as to observe your own thought processes.
posted by Goofyy at 3:00 AM on December 5, 2007

mu~ha~ha~ha~har says much the same thing, with different words. I like it :-)
posted by Goofyy at 3:01 AM on December 5, 2007

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