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Thursday, September 28, 2006

Mind Performance Hacks: Improve Memory and Cognition

The Mentat Wiki contains hundreds of pages of mind performance hacks that can help improve your memory, mental math skills, and more. In case you don't know, the word mentat originated with Frank Herbert's Dune novels and describes a person who is essentially a human computer.

One of the more interesting techniques I found was the tried and true Loci system that Roman orators used to memorize speeches. They visualized the layout of their homes and mentally associated items in each room with the various things that they wanted to remember for their speeches. So their speech was turned into a walkthrough of their home.

Another was the shorthand systems page. To transcribe what someone's saying, cursive is only 10% faster than printing so a better method is needed. There are quite a few modified writing systems; some use the Roman alphabet while others use squiggles and other marks. If you're a student taking lecture notes, learning a shorthand will come in very handy.

There's even a page describing how to memorize the transcendental number Pi up to 2600 digits, which might be fun to memorize as a party trick though I'm sure just 31 digits is enough to impress.


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