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Memory, Procrasination & Modes of Thinking

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Naveen Mahesh

on 27 August 2014

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Transcript of Memory, Procrasination & Modes of Thinking

Learning to Learn
essential techniques for learning with understanding
Now imagine spirits(apparitions) draped in white robes standing outside your front door. They are blocking the way for the midgets to enter the house. They are singing "I'm going to get you" in that often-heard-eery-tune you know so well. The midgets are going to need to fling pomodoros at these spirits, otherwise they will have to use enormous amount of will power to overcome them
Good Habits
There are tunnels from the gate of estate to the front door of your home and all the way till the kitchen where the Hall of Famers await the midgets. These tunnels are good habits. Once the midgets make a habit of staying in these tunnels, non of the spirits can reach them. But if they don't, they will have to use a lot of their power (will power) to fight the spirits blocking their entry to the house.

The Tunnels have frequent Look-Up points (25 minute pomodoro sessions) to stop, take in some fresh air -since there is very little of it in the tunnel-, or perhaps take a coffee break. The midgets only need to stay focussed for small 25 minute chunks to reach any of these Look-Ups.
Bad Habits
There are belly dancers dancing by the way side all the way from the main gate of your estate to the front door of your house. They are bad cues. They are wearing beautiful protein (routine) beads over their bodies. If the midgets routinely go towards the belly dancers, they'll miss the chance to be with the Hall of Famers.

These dancers are easy pickings. They are the reward for the midgets that follow the bad cues. But by this point, the midgets believe that this is better than being with the Hall of Famers. But is it in the long run? The more time they spend with the belly dancers, the longer it will take for them to reach your kitchen -their goal

Procrastination is a habit, a bad habit. It makes you choose alternate actions that reward you quickly and easily. Without good habits, you'll need a lot of will power to overcome your bad habit of procrastinating.

The spirits are the distractions blocking you from completing your tasks. Surf the web, play a computer game, ask someone how to solve the problem are all distractions. By putting distractions
away and planning well, you can overcome procrastination
They allow you to focus on the process and not the product. By using the pomodoros, you can not only break your work down into manageable bits, but also take the focus away from the end goal which causes neural discomfort.
They offer distraction with quick rewards, but they must be avoided in order to complete your tasks successfully
Poring over your learning material continuously wont get you
nearly as far as mixing focussed efforts with diffuse mode thinking
Modes of Thinking
As you know, keeping Good Habits is a way of shifting between focussed effort and diffuse thinking. The midgets will never get to the Kitchen in your house if they try do it all in one stretch. They will need to go back and forth between running through the tunnel and stopping at the Look Ups to get some fresh air. Afterall breathing in a narrow tunnel can be very hard :)
In this presentation, you'll learn some methods of overcoming procrastination, use of a technique called the Memory Palace and other techniques to remember what you learn, and also about how stronger neural networks -that are essential for a thorough learning - may be formed by alternating your modes of thinking

Long Term Memory
It is hard to build and it takes time to build. Short term memories must be repeated over time -a method called Spaced Repetition- in order to be committed to long term memory
We'll use a technique called
The Method of loci
(plural of Latinlocusfor or location), also called
Memory Palace
to illustrate how you too can build better long term memory of information that is important to you. It was invented by Simonides of Ceos.
Build better long-term Memory
Short Term Memory
We can remember about 4 different things for about 10 to 20 seconds after we hear them. Unless we process it, do something with it, we won't be able to recollect them (Peter Doolittle, TEDGlobal 2013).
Imagine you have 4 visitors to your childhood home. These visitors are midgets (short term memories) and they are here to join the Hall of Famers sitting in your kitchen and share a delicious meal.
by Naveen Mahesh

think in
Focussed &
Diffuse mode

Broadly there are two kinds of memory, working memory and long term memory.
Long Term memory
is what we store or retain in memory for long periods (months, years, decades). For example,
it can be a memory of your first automobile, your old television set, the address of your first house

Short term memory
, however, is relatively new information. These are
things your mind is currently processing; things you’ve just heard or seen
. These are lost with simple distractions or the passage of time. We can hold up to 4 chunks of information in working memory. To commit these to long term memory, you must recall and repeat them over time, a method called Spaced Repetition.

We also bring long term memory into working memory when we need to. For example.
Recalling a formula we learnt earlier to solve a new problem, or how the swimming stroke "Butterfly" is to be swum while teaching it to someone else

Think of the house you grew up in. Spend a few minutes trying to recollect its salient features. If it wasn't on an estate, then imagine it on one that you can recount in your mind's eye.
Now I'm going to tell you that the greatest footballers of the world are sitting in the kitchen, deep inside your house. The Kitchen is the Hall of Fame. It has taken them a very long time to get to the kitchen.
Hall of Fame.
About Memory Palace
The Secrets of Sherlock's Mind Palace
Art of Memory, by
Francisco Yates
How your "working memory" makes sense of the world,
Peter Doolittle
Feats of Memory Anyone Can Do
WikiHow says, "One of the most useful and widely used mnemonics (or memory aids) is the memory palace, a place or series of places in your mind where you can store information that you need to remember.

To use the technique, visualize a complex place in which you could physically store a set of memories. That place is often a building such as a house, but it can also be something like a road with multiple addresses (Smithsonian. 3 Feb 2013).

Once you put your short term memories in your Memory Palace, it is important to revisit the Palace from time to time so that you are both recounting correctly -practicing- and also making stronger neural connections of your memories.
Researchers have found that there are two fundamentally different modes of thinking: Focussed and Diffuse Mode.

For analogy, take a long zoom professional camera. When you zoom in, you find a lot of the detail in the picture you are looking at, but if you are looking for an owl in a dense thicket, you may find it more easily if you zoomed out a little. By zooming in too much, the level of detail is so much that it overwelms you. And unless you zoomed in exactly where the owl is, you are probably going to spend a lot of time searching for it. But once you find it, you can zoom right to it.

In a similar manner, your neural resting states can help you understand your learning material a lot better if you combine them with focussed learning sessions. So taking a walk, having a coffee break, and a light nap are some ways to diffuse - zoom out. In learning unlike in the photography analogy, you must first apply yourself in focussed mode and only then use the diffuse mode, otherwise you might begin to procrastinate.You might find the answers to questions you couldn't tackle earlier just by stepping away a little bit (zooming out). You will be able return to the focussed mode to complete the task with the breakthrough in hand.
How Salvador Dali and Newton used the diffuse mode to solve complexities they grappled with, video curtosey Barabara Oakley, on Learning How to Learn , a MOOC offered in Coursera.org
Your neural networks become stronger when you go back and forth between focussed mode and diffuse mode of thinking. Dr. Oppezzo writes in her study " For almost every student, creativity increased substantially when they walked. Most were able to generate about 60
percent more uses for an object, and the ideas were both “novel and appropriate”
What do you need to know about
Memory gets consolidated over time and gets further reconsolidated when they are brought to working memory. The struggles we encounter in figuring out solutions to problems opens the mind to gaps in our
knowledge and helps to embed new learning (Wenderoth, 2014).
Long Term Memory & Working Memory
How to build your Long Term Memory?
Getting there

will commit anyone new also to the
taken from Janeen's blog from PhotoBucket.com
What about
Credits and Resources
What do you need to know about
When you have something to do that you'd rather not do, you activate areas of the brain called the Insular Cortex, which is associated with emotions and pain. This neural discomfort is what makes you put off critical activities and take up easier and less painful ones instead. But researchers have found that by engaging with it without putting it off for later, we get over this discomfort completely.
When you get a cue about some uneasiness with a particular activity, you turn your attention towards something else that makes you happier quickly and easily.
You also procrastinate when you focus on completing something, rather than merely working on it for brief but focussed periods.
some videos on how to overcome
What about Modes of Thinking?
Are you hardwired to
Is there anything you can do to rid yourself of this habit?
No you are not hardwired to procrastinate. And yes, you can get out of this habit.

You'll need to change your reaction to the cues you get. And you must make a habit of good reactions. Often you will get cues like surfing the web is more productive than reading your textbook. By removing distractions, you will be reducing your temptation to procrastinate. Sit in a silent room, turn off your internet and computer, keep the phone away. This must be followed by good habits.

Good Habits are the sum of many actions. Begin by having a weekly planner. And make your daily plans the night before itself. It is believed to help you accomplish them. Also have a journal entry for each action item you wish to accomplish. And if you take on the difficult tasks first, the rest of the day will seem easy. Also delay your reward, this will help you complete your tasks on time.

As you can see, good habits couple with no-distractions can help you overcome procrastination. And you must believe in the process. Don't become a victim of the neural discomfort you feel when you approach a difficut task, believe and commit yourself to focussing on it for short periods. And finally have backup plans just in case you think you'll slip back into procrastinating.
And what about my Memory Palace?
Well it is yours to use now. Try and create as many memory palaces as you need
or store as much as you can in one single memory palace. Remember that when you use a vivid imagination, you are also more likely to remember better and learn new concepts around it that much better too.

Playing Computer Games Image from JoyTunes.com
Pomodoro image from Procrastiwriter.com
Dr. Oppezzo's article "Want to Be More Creative? Take a Walk" in NYTimes
Our perception is shaped by the sum of our experiences.
Illusions of Memory
Test-Enhanced Learning: Taking Memory Tests Improves Long-Term Retention by
Henry L. Roediger, III, and Jeffrey D. Karpicke
from ontariosoccer.net
Following memory techniques can help improve Learning With Understanding significantly
Maintaining good habits and planning can ward off Procrastination
Alternating Modes of Thinking can help create strong neural networks that are essential for a good understanding
Other Memory Techniques
Use Mnemonics to help remember connected bits of information. For example

Happy Henry Like Beer, But Could Not Obtain Four Nuts
, stands for the first 10 elements in the periodic table.
, 7 characteristics of living things
, Professional actors often reread a play or parts in a play many times over many days to recollect it where necessary
Number System
, where every number is associated with a letter or a name. For example if 1 is Albert and 5 is Einstien. Remebering 15 becomes that much easier.
Full transcript