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The brain best remembers things that are repeated, rhythmic, rhyming, structured, and above all easily visualized

The brain best remembers things that are repeated, rhythmic, rhyming, structured, and above all easily visualized The brain best remembers things that are repeated, rhythmic, rhyming, structured, and above all easily visualized
Source: Astralwerks via Giphy
Moonwalking with Einstein
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Moonwalking with Einstein
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[the researcher] realized that if you were setting out to create memorable poems, the Odyssey and the Iliad were exactly the kinds of poems you'd create. It's said that clichés are the worst sin a writer can commit, but to an oral bard, they were essential. The very reason that clichés so easily seep into our speech and writing—their insidious memorability—is exactly why they played such an important role in oral storytelling. And the Odyssey and Iliad, excuse the cliché, are riddled with them. In a culture dependent on memory, it's critical, in the words of Walter Ong, that people "think memorable thoughts." The brain best remembers things that are repeated, rhythmic, rhyming, structured, and above all easily visualized. The principles that the oral bards discovered, as they sharpened their stories through telling and retelling, were the same basic mnemonic principles that psychologists rediscovered when they began conducting their first scientific experiments on memory around the turn of the twentieth century: Words that rhyme are much more memorable than words that don't; concrete nouns are easier to remember than abstract nouns; dynamic images are more memorable than static images; alliteration aids memory. A striped skunk making a slam dunk is a stickier thought than a patterned mustelid engaging in athletic activity.

The most useful of all the mnemonic tricks employed by the bards was song. As anyone who has ever found himself chanting "By Mennen!" can attest, if you can turn a set of words into a jingle, they can become exceedingly difficult to knock out of your head. Finding patterns and structure in information is how our brains extract meaning from the world, and putting words to music and rhyme are a way of adding extra levels of pattern and structure to language. It's the reason homeric bards sang their epic oral poems, the reason that the Torah is marked up with little musical notations, and the reason we teach kids the alphabet in a song and not as twenty-six individual letters. Song is the ultimate structuring device for language.

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