How Memory Works— and How to Make It Work for You

Robert Madigan. Guilford, $14.95 (262p) ISBN 978-1-4625-2037-4
University of Alaska psychology professor emeritus Madigan provides skills and techniques for improving memory function, using information gleaned from contemporary research as well as from ancient practices in oral tradition. Madigan introduces four distinct systems of memory (episodic, semantic, skills and habits, and Pavlovian associations), and three modes of attention (default, bottom up, top down), all of which may aid or inhibit memory retention. Then he outlines specific mnemonic devices like visualizations, acronyms, acrostics, and rhymes. He supplies tips for remembering names and recalling lost or repressed memories, and looks at research related to enhancing memory through computer training tools, meditation, and even physical exercise. Madigan also explains what ordinary people can learn from individuals such as actress Marilu Henner who possess “Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory,” and from former presidential chief of staff Andrew Card Jr.’s “Memory Palace,” a mnemonic method passed down from ancient Greek poet Simonides and employed by 16th-century Jesuit missionary Matteo Ricci. Each chapter concludes with a “Memory Lab” section in which Madigan suggests exercises to improve the outlined skills, usually with a visual component to aid comprehension. Madgian values the “memory arts” as an “antidote” to electronic devices that “foster alarming levels of dependency,” an idea that may not sit well with technology-oriented readers, but he presents a compelling case for the utility of memory techniques in keeping the mind sharp. (July)
Reviewed on: 05/25/2015
Release date: 07/01/2015
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 278 pages - 978-1-4625-1196-9
Hardcover - 278 pages - 978-1-4625-2038-1
Open Ebook - 277 pages - 978-1-4625-0925-6
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