[Added January 2005]
In the film “Paris,Texas” by Wim Wenders, the main character is trying to get
his memories back walking around. When someone asks him how he knows where
to go, he answers : My body remembers for me. This sentence
has always made a great impression on me. It may mean many things. That when
we reach some place, we remember easily the way we got there. Another meaning
is that this knowledge is based on procedural memory so is unconscious
and difficult to erase. In Alzeimer’s disease the procedural memory is the
last to go.Amnesics including the famous patient HM (with hippocampus removal)
can still learn implicit knowledge of procedures.
It is possible to say from this that by including some procedural knowledge (especially if you are old) you
can improve your learning and memory? For example , with the use of the Web,
there is a big procedural component in our knowledge because we can learn
something by remembering how to get to that information. Another strategy
that I have found useful is the following: this is applied to learning a list
of let’s say 10 “concepts”. I give a number to each concept and write down
the 10 numbers on a sheet of paper in a ordered way:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
As I write the numbers I try to recollect the “concepts” connected.
I will repeat the exercise many times each time starting with a new blank
sheet. The idea is to base the recollection of the 10 concepts on the
recollection of the procedure of writing down the ten numbers.
I have reinvented the method of loci!