The Einstein Memory Trainer. (evaluation) Brian J. Murphy.
The Einstein Memory Trainer
Almost everyone seems to have blind spots when it comes to memory: matching names with faces, remembering important dates, recalling phone numbers. Now your Apple II, which almost never forgets anything, can be used to give your brain a 16 megabyte upgrade.
The tool for the job is The Einstein Memory Trainer, developed by a team of psychologists to help the average user to improve basic memory skills.
Key Word Memorization
The authors say we memorize by visualization and association. With Memory Trainer you learn to create an image that you link with the data you memorize. In the first lessons you are shown a simple but effective way of memorizing first names. You learn to select images to match names displayed on screen. The images can be objects that rhyme with the names (chain for Jane or shark for Mark) or conceptual images like dollar bill for Bill and bobsled for Bob. These are called key words.
Having created your key word images you then learn to link them with the faces of the people whose names you are trying to remember. You create a composite memtal picture of the face and the key word image that will immediately make the name come to mind. The lessons teach you to make the image vivid, even ridiculous, so that the key word and then the name will spring immediately to mind.
A memory game tests your ability to visualize. You are shown from five to twelve faces, the names that go with them and the key words you selected to help you remember the names. As each face reappears on the screen, you type in the name. At the end of each game you see a score including the precentage of correct answers. If more work is needed, the program lets you know.
The lessons also teach techniques of recall by loci, memorizing data by associating it with locations. In this lesson you are given a set of random objects that you are instructed to associate with a set of locations in a theatre. With the locations and associated objects memorized, another memory game evaluates your skills. Again you are told if your skills need more work.
The next lesson develops skills in making the association between locations and abstract or semi-abstract concepts that are harder to visualize. The procedure for memorizing and testing in this area repeats the procedure for concrete objects.
Some of the objects in the exercises which the authors claim are especially hard to visualize (such as milk and town) don't seem to pose much of a visualization challenge, but you can make your own judgment. It is conceivable for some users that the transition from what the authors call concrete to conceptual visualizations may be a substantial achievement.
The tutorial goes on to teach number memorization using peg words. For each number you are taught there is a symbolic sound or sounds. They are 0 = Z or S, 1 = T or D, 2 = N, 3 = M, 4 = R, 5 = L, 6 = J, S or C, 7 = K or hard C, 8 = V or F, and 9 = B or P.
The sounds derive from the names of the numbers or the shapes of letters which, with a little imagination, you can detect inside the numeric character (for example, a backwards nine is a P, an eight looks like a handwritten small F, and a 3 on its side is an M).
Exercises drill you in the creation of key words for longer numbers. For example, using the table above could you deduce which number is represented by the key word CaRT? The answer is 741 (7=K or C, R=4, and T=1). What key word you use for each number is, of course, up to you, but to use these lessons you must accept Einstein's suggested letter values for number characters.
You will recall how loci were used to remember various concrete objects and abstract concepts. You now learn that number key words can be used like loci to recall long numbers of items in ordered lists. Let's say you have three numbered items: 1. String, 2. Bug, and 3. Nest. By using your key words for each of the numbers as loci (possible examples would be 1=kiT, 2=nNee, 3=Ma) then visualizing the key word/object combination, you could quickly recall all the objects by number. One thing is obvious, you had better settle on one set of key words for numbers 0-9, or you will be spending as much time memorizing key words as you would the numbered objects.
Einstein teaches a system for memorizing dates; you use key words for numbers, along with key words of your own selection for the months. The program suggests key words derived from the names of the months and from seasonal associations (e.g., pilgrim for November, bride for June). Using number peg words you construct a series of visual associations which represent an entire date, then you combine the key word for the month with the key words for the day and year.
An example: Picture a pilgrim with a tail topped by a comb. This visual image should bring to mind the key words pilgrim (for November), TaiL (which equals 15) and CoMb (73), giving you the date November 15, 1973.
The lesson links names with dates, again using the peg word system.
The object of the exercise is to help you to remember anniversaries, appointments, and other dates linked with specific individuals.
The fifth and final lesson is designed to help you to memorize phone numbers. As with the other lessons you use peg words to memorize the numbers. The lesson gives you practice linking numbers with names, again by using visual associations.
Once you have mastered the five lessons, you can play the Memory Mix game, a sort of graduation exercise in which you are shown a series of faces for which you must memorize names, birthdays, and phone numbers.
The methods of memory training used in this program appear to be quite valid. Even though I have a fairly good memory, I found that I was able to memorize data with a good deal less difficulty using the Memory Trainer techniques.
This is sound educational software that can be used with a minimum of on-screen directions or references to the printed manual. The memory games have been designed with great care to be as amusing as they are challenging. The hi-res graphics used to illustrate the program range from smooth to crude, but they do the job of effectively reinforcing the lessons at key points.
The documentation is very well written and could stand alone as a good memory training course. With the software, the Einstein Memory Trainer is a very potent memory improvement system.
Products: Einstein Memory Trainer (computer program)