Are you STILL a Learning Machine?

If you are finished with school, for 95% of us, we quit learning. The problem with that is
a static brain begins to unravel and invites deterioration like Alzheimer’s. You know the expression,
‘Use it or Lose it’. Put your arm in a cast for 6-weeks and the disuse atrophies the muscles. You need
Exercise to regain full strength, right?

Stop learning, watch 5-hours of TV daily, and your brain gets stale and your ability to learn goes
South. So What? The latest scientific research indicated an opening for dementia. See, you are
going to live to over 90-years, so protecting your mind is critical to living the good life.

Scientific American

The May 21st edition of Scientific American published a great article called ‘Brain Boosting Tips
For Speed Learning’. We know something about speedlearning: it covers speed reading and brain
strategies for long term memory. If you use speedlearning, you exercise your brain and guarantee
your cognitive faculties for a lifetime.

Two Studies

Published in the journal Science, researcher Jeffrey Karpicke at Purdue University concludes that
repetition, and not fancy mind-mapping is the secret to learning science and other subjects.
Retrival (testing your recall) is not merely a read out of the knowledge stored in our mind. This
activity of retrieval itself enhances the process of learning.’

In plain English, self-testing to see if you really remember the key points of what you read, is
a strategy to help your brain ASSOCIATE and remember better. Read the article; decide the 1-2-3
key points and repetitiously retest yourself to see your recall.

Compared to What

The Purdue researchers compared “simple recall exercises” better than Mind Mapping. They call
it ‘elaborative concept mapping’. It is a creation of Tony Buzan, and is used by about 250 million
people to learn new material. Personally, Buzan’s Mind Mapping is excellent because it combines
mental-imagery (imagination) with ASSOCIATION, linking, connecting ideas.

If you hear “up”, you brain retrieves “down”. Day is automatically associated with Night, and
your brain fills in the links (associations) with all the things the keyword reminds you of.


Your brain uses pictures (mental imagery) together with ASSOCIATIONS to produce memory.
No memory prevents your “thinking”. Conclusion: imagination and association equal your memory
and you thinking-brain.

Is Buzan’s Mind Mapping a winner?

Yes, in spades. Mind Mapping works the way your brain works. It is radient and takes an idea and
branches out to form related ideas to the original. Mind Mapping take the Theme, the key idea of the
article and builds Keywords using one-word for each major idea on each branch. Each key-word
trigger the next supporting idea. Google: Tony Buzan.


The researchers expected to find that elaborative diagrams of relationships between the author’s
ideas drawn from the text, would help short-term and long-term memory. It does, but you must
keep testing yourself to see if you remember the keywords. How? It sounds boring but stop every
20-minutes the first hour to retrieve what you learned in keywords.

The next day, retest yourself twice more to prove you really own the keywords. One week later,
And do a retrieval test. That really works. That is the significance of the Purdue research.

Al Einstein

Can you remember this brilliant comment by Einstein? If you retrieve it twice-a-day, it will
improve your life. Here goes: “Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.
The important thing is to NEVER stop questioning.”

Keywords: yesterday, today, tomorrow, questioning. Remember, create a mental picture or
Movie, and let your mind ASSOCIATE the keywords with ideas already embedded in your
Long-term memory. You own the Einstein quote forever.


If you can remember the following seven (7) questions, you will improve your long-term memory
Up to 60%. Ready?

1. Who? (associate who with the picture of an Owl).
2. What? (see a Hat and ask what it is for).
3. When? Picture a Hen and ask it the date and time.
4. Where? Imagine a Hare (rabbit) and ask it for directions.
5. Why? Imagine an Eye and ask it a tough question.
6. Which? See a Witch on a broom, and ask her to choose between two-ideas.
7. How? See a COW and ask it how it produces milk.


Read and question the author using these 7 questions and your long-term memory will
vastly improve.

Last thing

University of Chicago researchers tested college students using two strategies to release
Stress before an important exam. The first was to relax, close your eyes and be quiet
for ten-minutes. The second was to use pen and paper and spend ten-minutes writing
about your fears and doubts concerning the up and coming exam.

Which would you guess produced better results?

Writing about your thoughts and feelings about the exam beat resting by two-to-one.
Your Visual-Auditory-Kinesthetic senses win.

See ya,

Copyright 2011, H. Bernard Wechsler

Author's Bio: 

Author of Speed Reading For Professional, published by
Barron's. Business partner of Evelyn Wood, graduating 2-
million, including the White House staffs of four (4)
U.S. Presidents: Kennedy-Johnson-Nixon-Carter.