Posted in Imagination, memory, Science

Just a Tree a Flag and a Ball?

Over seven years ago, a doctor asked my wife to memorize just three words: Tree, Flag and Ball in a minute or so.

A few minutes later, he asked her to give him the three words. And she could only remember the Flag! After only a few minutes.

Our short-term memory (or “primary” or “active memory”) is the capacity for holding, but not manipulating, a small amount of information in mind in an active, readily available state for a short period of time. The duration of short-term memory (when rehearsal or active maintenance is prevented) is believed to be in the order of seconds.

But our visual memory is not so limited, especially when what we are experiencing is exciting, unusual, strange or truly different.

We all probably remember where we were and what we were doing the day that President John Kennedy was assassinated, if you were of that time. But the same applies to unusual and significant events at any time.

So after the doctor’s appointment, I told my wife how she could quickly remember those three simple words.

By visualizing in a story form and as weirdly as much as possible using the three words as the story line.

My story:

Imagine a giant, majestic Tree that looks like Albert Einstein. A large country Flag is pinned under it’s chin. And the pin is wearing a green dress and throwing a fire Ball at the flag!

Today, I asked my wife to give me the three words her doctor told her to remember almost seven years ago. She immediately said,

Flag … which to me is very unusual.

Then she asked, “Was it an apple or an orange?”

Close, since the next word was Ball.

And that was it.

Still, for my wife to instantly remember the first word and have an idea about the second is truly remarkable given her diminishing short-term memory!

So! An hour from now; a week from now; or even a year from now; ask yourself, “What were the stupid three words in that post I was supposed to remember?”

If you truly visualized the story, you will remember!