Can You Hack Your Memory?

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There is nothing more frustrating as forgetting things which is very common, well scientists have finally found a solution to remembering that important meeting that might have slipped your mind. The new study suggests that the remembering mundane, that is what we need to remember every activity is very simple. All you need is to provide the brain with distinctive cues that can be experienced at a particular time. It’s just a simple as creating a reminder, but now it will be a mental reminder, on when the task needs to be done. The reminder must state exactly when the event needs to be done not when there is still time for one to procrastinate. 

A team of researchers from Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania had 87 participants complete an hour-long computer task. The participants were instructed that they could possess a dollar donated to a local food bank each time they received their cash for participating in the study. But in order to get the dollar donated to the local food bank first they were to pick up a paperclip from the front of the desk. In short all the participants who wanted to get a dollar donated had to remember to pick the paper clip, which is a little forgettable. The team went ahead to divide the participants into two groups after they finished the computer test. They then informed that there was an elephant statue on the table and then simply thanked for participating in the study. 72% of the people in the elephant group remembered to pick up their paper clips unlike the 42% of the other group. This showed that the elephant statue was able to provide a particular cue that jogged the participant’s memory.

According psychologist Todd Rogers from the Harvard Kennedy School notes that the people were able to follow through with their good intentions if they were reminded to follow through with things that very noticeable cues appearing at particular locations. The team notes that even though the elephant cue worked not all cues are equal. The mind is able to skip over cues that are considered to be ultra-boring. This was concluded after the researchers conducted a similar study, but in order to donate the dollar participants the participants had to give a specific answer for a specific question in the survey. The team also tried changing the cues and noted the stranger the cue was, the better it worked as a reminder. The best cue was found to be of an alien from Toy Story who constantly popped out on the screen to remind the participant of the specific question. The mind will be able to note a cue that is unique and fun and hence serve as a better reminder.

In another study 500 coffee shop’s patrons were examined, when given a coupon that they will be used in the next two days. An alien was used as a reminder, but only 24% of the alien group used their coupon compared to the 17% of the other group that was not given any reminder. The little man reminder was able to generate a 40% increase. In short, if you want to have a higher chance of remembering something, then its better you get something creative and keep off from writing notes and using alarm reminders.

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