Difficulty: 5/10 (moderate)
Genre: Neuroscience, Cognitive Studies
Main Idea: Intelligent memory is the source of creativity and productivity and can be developed
Recommended For: People interested in neuroscience who also enjoy word puzzles!
This is a fun read. The book offers a nice mix of interesting information and word puzzles. These word puzzles serve to illustrate and explain the different aspects of your Intelligent Memory. The author differentiates between ordinary and this intelligent memory by explaining that ordinary memory is simply memorizing information like where we put our car keys or a math formula. Intelligent memory involves this ordinary memory but it also involves the connections between memories and then processes these memories and connections to form deeper thought. For example, memorizing a phone number is ordinary memory, but using your keys to open a package is intelligent memory since it calls on basic pieces of memories (keys are hard and sharp enough to cut things, tape is hard to remove with fingers) and forms connections between these memories to produce deeper thought. Intelligent Memory is key for problem solving and creativity, and the author explains how to strengthen and improve this memory.
One way to improve your intelligent memory is to increase the number of memories that you store. Dr. Gordon cites some interesting studies in this regard: “British letter carriers were given a course in how to type so they could use new postal codes when sorting the mail. The group with the most intensive schedule – four hours a day – needed 80 hours of instruction to learn to type an acceptable number of correct keystrokes. The group that worked only one hour a day learned to type as well after only 50 hours of instruction.” This principle is so well known, it is known as the “spacing effect”, and I think everyone is aware that it exists, they just trick themselves into thinking they are as effective cramming to justify their procrastination. Spaced out learning is so effective for a number of reasons. One, its easier to concentrate for shorter periods of time. Two, the memories have less chance to interfere with each other, while in an intensive course memories and information will be crammed together. Finally, you allow the memories time to form more connections with your brain.
Practice making ‘novel’ connections
Practicing to spark connections is another way to improve your intelligent memory. We have connections that we make daily, on autopilot. We don’t exercise this connection making muscle unless our plans are foiled. Gordon calls these out of the ordinary connections novel connections. For example, everyone has beaten a rhythm on a desk or bucket. Stomp! Took that idea and made a million dollar show out of it. That’s a novel connection and it’s something we should be trying to make every day in order to create new things and solve problems.
Are you a genius?
The last section I want to talk about and probably the most inspiring is the info that Gordon gives about two geniuses. Thomas Edison obtained patents for 1,093 unique ideas, yet few where on par with the lightbulb or phonograph. Picasso created more than 20,000 works of art, but only a fraction of them are counted as masterpieces. These facts illustrate that possibly the ancient view of genius is more accurate. The ancient Greeks never spoke of someone as a genius, rather that person has a genius. The genius comes in at random times to the person that is working hard and receptive to this genius. What if we are all geniuses? If you are an electrician and you invented more that 1,000 things, do you think one of those things would be an epic contribution to society? Possibly genius? I think so. It’s a numbers game. If Edison was a genius, everything he thought would be gold. But out of 1,000 inventions we know of two. The only difference between Edison and anyone else is that Edison hustled hard. Lots of people think that they are not creative or stupid because when they think, they instantly shut down as the first bad idea gets thought up. What if you kept thinking. Kept grinding. What if you thought 1,000 ideas? I bet you would have the same track record as Edison, which is a couple awesome ideas.
The book is a moderate read, 200 pages. While it was fun and interesting, I found it lacking instruction on improving intelligent memory. The author basically, tells you try to make new connections, and do things differently to help for new connections. Fair enough, I would have likes a more detailed system to improving the intelligent memory, but the information in the book definitely helps.
“They wouldn’t be problems if they had easy solutions, so expect to have to try a great many new connections and follow a great many routes before you find something better than you currently have – if you ever do. If you push for numerous novel associations, you will also churn up junk and noise and weird pairings that have no useful value. But if you don’t push, you are guaranteed to never find anything useful.”
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