Learning anatomy: a strategy for memorizing muscles

What's the best way to memorize the muscles of the arm? Cathy discusses her two-step approach to developing adaptive expertise in anatomy, which will play a big role in our future careers—scroll to the bottom to find out where we're headed next year!

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Optimizing the Pomodoro Technique: Strategies for Maintaining Focus During Deep Work

I wrote last week about the Pomodoro Technique and its potential for fostering productive work. In the eight years I’ve applied the method, its focus-break-focus-break-etc prescription has worked wonders. Despite my best efforts, however, at times I still catch my mind wandering. The question becomes: How can I get the most out of my pomos? I discuss several strategies I’ve incorporated which help me keep distractions to a minimum.

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The Pomodoro Technique: Your Key to a Productive Day

Retrieval practice, spacing, the memory palace, and other evidence-based learning strategies will help you achieve your learning goals. However, without a schedule for implementing them in a focused way, you may find your efforts futile. In our age of distractions and socially acceptable multitasking, cutting through the chatter to focus is paramount. Enter the Pomodoro Technique.

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Memorizing Drug Trade Names

Learning trade names (or brand names) of medications poses a classic memorization challenge for medical students transitioning from preclinical to clinical medicine. We learn all manner of generic drug names as first- and second-year students, only to find that doctors and patients throw around trade names far more frequently. Knowing these trade names can be invaluable. Here’s how Alex tackles it!

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Hit the Ground Running: A Quick Guide to Mastering the Memory Palace Before School Starts

We’ve received a few messages recently from people who are starting a professional school this year. While we love the memory palace technique, there can be a significant barrier to use, especially if you're about to enter a high-stakes learning environment. Here's an easy one-month ramp up to mastering the palace technique before you start a new learning adventure.

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Silence Is Golden? White Noise, Coffee Shops, and the Learning Boost of Habituation

Do you prefer to work in silence? With music? The jury's still out on the benefits of white noise, but we've got our own preferences. Cathy shares her thoughts from a coffee shop. 

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Drawing Pictures: A Memory Technique That Works?

Alex discusses a recent New York Times article highlighting research on drawing pictures as a memory aid. Recent studies have uncovered that the technique can be surprisingly powerful. But why does it work? And can drawing pictures be sustainably implemented to improve learning?

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The Body Palace: Memorizing the Review of Systems

A key tool in the physician’s arsenal is the review of systems, or ROS—a run-through of pertinent symptoms while taking a patient history. To the novice clinical student, it can feel overwhelming. Medical students often first learn the ROS as Alex did—as a giant, inscrutable list of symptoms. Here’s how he uses a memory technique to tackle it painlessly.

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New Year's Resolutions for a Better Memory

Alex and I just got back from the beach with our families. Now that I’m back at my desk, I’m starting to look ahead at the new year, including writing resolutions. While I prefer to start self-improvement whenever inspirations strikes—even on a random day like December 28—I admit that a fresh “January 1” startline can be extra motivating. Here are three memory-related resolutions I’m considering.

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It's in the Genes: How to Memorize Tricky Number/Letter Associations

Our newest question comes from a reader who’s a medical student in Italy: “I use a lot the memory palace for my studies but I was wondering if you can help me to memorise in an easy way the genes, because they are made with letters and numbers for example: BRCA1, FGFR1, HLA, Cn3D.... something like this! I hope this can be helpful for all the other medical students.”

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How Should Medical Students Use Memory Techniques in the Clinical Setting? [Video]

Ever wondered how best to apply memory techniques in the clinical setting? Should I use memory palaces for patient interviews? For presentations? How might practicing physicians make use of memory techniques? In the video below, we give an overview of how we think memory techniques are best applied in clinical practice.

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Surface Learning Still Matters

By discouraging memorization and drilling, we’ve been implicitly taught that conceptual understanding of a topic is equivalent to learning. A student who memorizes is, therefore, a subpar learner. But without internalization of surface concepts—acquired through surface techniques such as memorization and drilling—deeper ones will continue to evade the learner.

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Memory Tips for Medical Students (Live Seminar) [Video]

A short seminar we recently gave to the first year class at our medical school. It covers some science-backed tips we think every learner should know. 

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How to Memorize the Entire Facial Nerve Using a Memory Palace [Video]

In this 20-minute video, Alex walks through how to memorize the entire facial nerve (cranial nerve VII) using a memory palace. The facial nerve is a key player in neuroanatomy and pops up during gross anatomy in medical school.

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How to Memorize the Drugs that Cause Pancreatitis in 60 Seconds (and Remember Them a Week Later) [Video]

We collaborated with medical learning powerhouses Osmosis and Sketchy Medical to create this intro video on memory palaces. We demonstrate the technique with a list of drugs that cause pancreatitis. Here's how to make those essential drug groups really stick. (7:05)

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