A good memory is vital for success both personally and in the business world.
This interview with cognitive enhancement expert and author Anthony Simola will explain how your memory works and how to hack it, so it works in your favour.
Get the advantage!
Danielle: Tell us a bit about you, your recent book and how you got interested in this area?
Anthony: My day job is engineering and programming, and I never really expected to become an author. When I was in college, I started looking for ways to tweak my learning and more broadly, my cognition, and this book spawned from that period of studying relevant research and experimenting with certain things myself.
Danielle: I'm curious about your background and if there was one key event that was the impetus for your involvement in this specialist area?
Anthony: Studying in an intense academic setting made me look for competitive advantages. I saw a fair amount of self-destructive or harmful behavior around me, and it became very clear to me that learning was something where you didn't get better results by throwing more hours at it. As a consequence, I became highly interested in implementing those low-risk, high-reward action items and behaviors that my research had determined would optimize my cognitive functioning.
Danielle: Everyone wants to improve their memory and it is often vital in the business world to have great recall of names, goals, and dates. Can you describe how memory works simply for us?
Anthony: Without going into the details of neurobiology, human memory is just a biological storage system where new pieces of information are constantly examined against pre-existing ones, sometimes discarded and sometimes integrated into your body of knowledge. Your ability to retrieve those bits of information depends chiefly on two factors - their vividness and the number of times you have recalled them in the past.
Danielle: Do some people have better memories innately?
Anthony: Memory is largely determined by genetics. However, do not let that discourage you - you exercise a far greater degree of control over your memory than you likely even know.
Danielle: How can everyday people improve their memory?
Anthony: It might sound odd in a digital age, but unplug - relying on electronic devices to store information for you weakens your ability to remember, in addition to cluttering your mind with nonsense like what some distant acquaintance did last week and how many people thumbed-up that story in your news feed. Also, there's some research to show that too much screen-time is a risk factor for depression. Try to disconnect for, say, half a day once a week, and observe the effect that has on your quality of life.
Danielle: Can you provide any dietary or lifestyle tips that contribute to improved memory?
Anthony: The basics go a long way - eat a balanced diet suited to your activity levels, exercise in moderation and rest sufficiently. Once you've got those in order, maybe consider supplementing with omega-3 fatty acids or CDP choline. Consult your health care professional for further assistance.
Danielle: Can you describe a simple technique everyone can do to improve their recall?
Anthony: Absolutely. When most people try to memorize or learn something, they read it multiple times or try to repeat it, and that's passive learning. Active recall, on the other hand, means that you are facilitating the process of retrieving a piece of information at a later time by practicing it in the present moment. In simple terms, if you are attempting to commit to memory a statement, fact, or idea, construct a question to which that statement, fact, or idea is an answer. Then, pose the question to yourself, and reply to it by yourself. You will notice your recall vastly improve when compared to merely reading, watching, or listening. Engagement and repetition are key.
Anthony Simola is the CEO of Simola Technologies Inc., a printing press and consultancy. He previously studied at Columbia University and Vanderbilt University, and is the author of “The Roving Mind: A Modern Approach to Cognitive Enhancement,” released in the March of 2015.