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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3 Reasons Why You Should Be Using Memory Palaces (and Not Only Standalone Images)

Standalone mnemonics are also a relatively simpler yet still effective way for, say, an absolute beginner to pick up new foreign language vocab. When it comes to carefully learning structured material, however, I’ve found there to be three main arguments in favor of palaces.

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How to Use Memory Palaces to Learn Chinese: Putting the System into Practice [Video]

In this video, I walk through a memory palace-based learning session, focusing on examples and the different tools I use. This one builds on my earlier two blogs describing the system. Here's how to make tricky tones and endings really stick. (26:02)

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