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Your Memory : How It Works and How to Improve It Paperback – March 2, 2001

4.3 out of 5 stars 110 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Higbee is a professor of psychology at Brigham Young University, where he teaches courses he developed on memory improvement.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press; 2nd edition (March 2, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1569246297
  • ISBN-13: 978-1569246290
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (110 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #51,947 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Travis Cottreau on August 2, 2000
Format: Paperback
Kenneth Higbee is very direct about his memory book. He writes that he fills in a very specific niche that isn't being filled by current memory books. I think that he is right.
I have recently read 4 other memory books, Kevin Trudeau's "Mega-Memory", Tony Buzan's "Use Your Perfect Memory", Harry Lorayne's "How to Develop a Superpower Memory" and Lorayne and Lucas's "The Memory Book". I have read some of them previously, but intentionally read them over with the intent to compare them to each other and see if there was any difference.
If you are already sold on various memory techniques (pegging, loci etc...) and only want to learn the techniques, it really doesn't matter which book you read, they all contain the same information about the actual techniques. All of them usually have a little history included as well about where the techniques come from and how they developed.
Higbee, however, goes one step further than all the other books. He is aiming this book at students (I'm sure this is a text book for his memory course), educators and intelligent readers. He gives answers to long time questions that are so often asked (what is a photographic memory? Do different systems interfere with each other?, will you forget what you remember? How good are the different techniques? etc...). Higbee answers all of these and more in a clear way with little ambiguity. He provides the latest research and references to medical and psychological journals on how the techniques work, results from various students in his classes and his own experiences. He looks directly at problems with the memory systems and addresses criticism from various sources.
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Format: Paperback
There are many books about memory and memory improvement on the marketplace. Most of them tend to fall into one of two categories. Either a treatise on the brain, how memories are formed, the types of memories and the basics of recall or a treatise of memorization techniques that have been used over the centuries. The first type offers great information but very little useful advice for someone seeking to improve their memory. The second type offers lots of techniques that may work in one situation or another but don't give enough information on how they work to allow you to adapt them to your own personal needs.
This book offers a nice medium ground. It offers information on the various types of memories and current scientific research into memory and then follows up with several types of techniques to enable you to remember different things. The advantage to this book is that since it gives you both pieces information in a concise, integrated work it provides you with the framework to design and/or adjust the techniques to your personal needs.
The book does not offer any new mnemonic techniques or any groundbreaking work in that area. However, I found that by understanding how the techniques work and how to work with them I was able to adapt the systems and/or use multiple systems to quickly memorize material that had been problematic before.
The book covers basic systems from the common Loci system that is quick and easy to learn to the much more flexible and complex phonic system that requires much more study and practice to use effectively. While these are not new, a work that details the manner in which they work and encourages you to adapt the system to your needs is new.
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A Kid's Review on July 22, 2006
Format: Paperback
This review is written from the perspective of someone learning a lot of complex material who wants to retain the learned material for a very long time. The book does a poor job of helping with this goal, although it does address other goals (described below) fairly well.

The book starts with about 45 pages of general background on how memory works. The rest of the book is predominantly about mnemonics (124 of the remaining 172 pages). In particular, a great deal of time is spent on the Link, Story, Loci, Peg, and Phonetic systems. These systems are all very similar in both how they work and the type of information that one can learn. Essentially, they provide a framework for keeping track of an ordered list of items. Also, some can be adapted for remembering numbers. If you want to learn lists of words or some special numbers, then they will be useful. However, if you want to remember trigonometric identities or calculus, then they are not going to help much. (There was a mention in the book of Masachika Nakane, who applied mnemonics to trigonometry and calculus, but no information is given on how this was done.) The more abstract and/or procedural the material to be learned is, the less useful the mnemonics presented are.

Besides the limitations in the type of information that can be stored, most of the mnemonics are just temporary storage; if you want to memorize multiple lists and remember them at the same time, then these mnemonics are not going to be helpful. This is because the framework is recycled and this leads to interference between the lists. (There are some strategies presented to deal with this interference problem, but they don't sound very effective and they will not scale past a few lists.
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