8 Tips for DIY Photographic Memory Training Did you know that NBA superstar Lebron James, science uber genius Nikola Tesla and the original king of bling Mr. T were all supposedly graced with photographic memories on top of all their other talents? It seems slightly unfair that these fellas have the ability to dunk a basketball, create amazing things, rock a set of gold chains like nobodies business and take mental snapshots for memory recall later. Maybe we’re just bitter that we can’t remember our own phone number let alone dribble a basketball. Scientists can’t seem to agree on whether or not photographic memory is a real thing, despite many people claiming this awesome brain bending ability. Some scientists say it’s possible to have a great memory that nearly replicates events or things, but deny the brain’s ability to truly snap a mental picture. They believe it’s a learned skill that anyone can master with a good bit of hard work rather than an inherent ability of a select group of people. There are also scientists who side with those claiming to have photographic memories and have made it their mission to prove its existence. The brainiacs at the University of California, Irvine have gone as far as taking a look at the brains of those with this unique ability to support their beliefs A 2011 study from the aforementioned brainiacs found “that multiple areas in the temporal and parietal lobes tied to autobiographical memory are significantly larger than the same regions in a control group” when the MRI results of 11 participants were reviewed. We’ll let the scientist duke it out over the facts behind photographic memories since that’s out of our wheelhouse by many miles. Instead, we’ve decided to whip up some great DIY photographic memory training tools for you regardless of whether you’re one of the folks harboring larger temporal and parietal lobes or just a regularly lobed person with a desire to have a better memory. Get your mental cameras ready because it’s time to put it and your memory to good use. 8 Tips for DIY Photographic Memory Training Quick disclaimer: doing these things really can improve your memory, but they don’t guarantee developing a photographic memory. They’re more tips and tricks that can help you develop a whip-smart memory that’s really close to what some folks would call photographic. Anyway, check it out! Pre-Training Prep Ramp up your lifestyle to boost your memory. We often overlook the importance our lifestyle plays into how well our memory functions. Well the proof is in the scientific pudding here, and it looks like a major key to a better memory, photographic and otherwise, is to kick unhealthy habits pronto. You don’t have to make all of these changes over night, but you’ll see faster results with the more changes you make. Start your lifestyle change by turning off the television no matter how full your DVR is and hit the gym instead. You’ll get your blood flowing and give your memory a nice boost in the process. Your brain will love the oxygen rich blood and feel-good chemicals you’ll be sending it, so prepare to feel the burn. Go to the doctor on your way to the gym, too. Get a quick check up to ensure your mind and body are healthy since physical and mental health both play a large role in your ability to effectively implement photographic memory training. Healthy a diet rich in good fats and antioxidants. It’s time to put down the cheeseburger and pick up some spinach. You have to eat the right kind of brain healthy food if you want to have a kicking photographic memory. Everything you put into your body can potentially influence how well you’re able to master any photographic memory training, so fuel it the right way and with the right stuff. A brain and memory healthy diet is one rich in omega-3/6 fatty acids, antioxidants and a gaggle of other important vitamins and minerals. You can easily start replacing some of your food choices with other brain fueling options. For example, reach for a bag of nuts or seeds rich in vitamins B6 and E rather than a tempting bag of Cheetos. It’s also a good idea to add memory boosting herbs to your diet as a way to improve your photographic memory. You can add herbs like ginseng, Ginkgo biloba and green tea to your daily dietary routine through teas, tinctures or supplements. Your brain will thank you by ramping up its ability to focus and produce better memories. Drink less, remember more. We hate to spoil a good time, but excessive drinking is not a friend to your memory. Alcohol actually has a negative effect on your ability to learn and retain new memories. This happens due to roadblocks thrown up by alcohol that stall memory friendly receptors in your brain. These receptors kind of bounce off of the roadblocks with nowhere to go, which is kind of a bummer for your memory in long term. Do yourself (and your brain) a favor if you are going to hit the bottle at all, do so in moderation. You can also drink red wine instead of the hard stuff since it’s loaded in antioxidants and flavanols. These two brain boosting components are noted to help your memory and are said to help reduce the chances of Alzheimer’s. Get lots of good sleep to sharpen cognitive connections. If you were looking for a reason to hit the sack more often or for longer periods of time, look no further. Scientists have been telling us for years to get more sleep, but most of us just think “Ha! Sure, I’ll get more sleep when I get a clone to take care of all of the things I could be doing while I catch an extra hour or two.” Well, we should have been listening to this advice all these years by catching some extra Z’s and worrying less about what we didn’t get done. It turns out that sleep is incredibly vital to our brain’s function and memory as it enables a process called memory consolidation to take place. Our brains needs the quiet time sleeps brings to sift through our memories in order to catalog the important stuff and ditch those that are less useful. Basically that means we can’t store memories efficiently for later recall if the proper amount of sleep isn’t had. So, grab your eyeshades, set your alarm and hit the hay for at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. Actual Exercises Use the “mental spot” technique to create ultra-powerful memory associations. The mental spot technique for photographic memory training works pretty much exactly as it sounds. All you need to do is create a place in your brain, which can be a place you are familiar with or a fictitious one, as long as you’re going to be able to recall the details consistently and with ease. You’re going to take the details and objects you distinctly recall and imprint them as firmly as you can in your memory. Really go to town with the details here and don’t skimp on anything from the color of the imaginary walls to the magazines resting on the metaphorical coffee table. You can move on to making mental connections once you’ve got a solid grasp on each and every detail in your mental spot. The connections you make are going to be between objects in your spot and the things you want to commit to photographic memory. There aren’t any rules here and the associations are yours to make however your see fit. We do suggest making the weirdest, funniest and bizarre connections as possible. These odd connections will stick around in your photographic memory banks far easier than mundane ones. We’re basically telling you to take the go weird or go home approach for the most success. Use the “memory peg” technique to create strong mental anchors. The memory peg photographic memory technique works a bit like the memory spot technique, which should make it easy for you to implement. The main difference between the two lies in the things you’re going to use to make your mental connections. Unlike memory spot, random images are used as the starting place for your photographic connections to be made. You don’t need to create a mental spot to do this at all. However, you will want to make some silly connections to help your brain hang on to what you’re trying to remember. We routinely use mental images like a monkey, pirate, lawn gnome, penguin and pogo stick. Sure, these are odd images to call upon when we need to use our photographic memory, but you’ll see why it works in just a minute. For example, you want to remember the items you need to grab from the craft store rather than bring a list. Let’s say you need to pick up some buttons, sewing needles, thread, felt and hot glue sticks in order to complete a project for your niece. You can easily do this with your photographic memory and the memory peg technique. Forget trying to remember each of those items the old, boring way. Instead, have a bit of fun with it by pegging each item with an image that will make remembering what you need a synch. Take a look at how we use the memory peg technique for our own photographic memory training: We’d likely imagine a monkey in a top hat and monocle trying to button a fancy coat. A pirate attempting to use sewing needles while repeatedly poking himself is sure to stand out in our photographic memory. Lawn gnomes are notorious for getting tangled up in sewing thread when trying to repair their tattered trousers. Having never had the chance to pet a penguin, we’d imagine it would feel a lot like the soft felt you need from the craft store. It’s all fun and games to bounce along on a pogo stick…unless the pogo stick in question is made out of bendy hot glue sticks. So as you can see the imagery is totally bizarre and not at all plausible in the real world. However, the connections we’ve made between the items you need from the craft store are likely to stick around for those very reasons. After all, it’s not every day you imagine a dapper monkey buttoning his fancy coat while his pirate friend tries not to poke himself with sewing needles while attempting to help a thread tangled lawn gnome mend his trousers. Use the “military memory method” to magnetize your memories. You don’t have to rock camo fatigues or suffer through boot camp in order to take advantage of the military method when implementing photographic memory training. This is a surprisingly effective way to use and improve your photographic memory, so definitely give it a try. You will need a dark room, a bright lamp, a sheet of paper with a rectangular hole cut out and a book or magazine with text you want to memorize. You’ll also want to carve out about 15 minutes of time a day for at least a month to really see results. Go to your dark room and stand next to the lamp with the paper covering all but the cut out portion of text you want to memorize. Turn the light off once you’re all set and hang tight in the dark until your eyes adjust. Now that your eyes have adjusted, direct your focus towards the paragraph you want to use your photographic memory on. Quickly turn the light on and off again while keeping your eyes locked on the paragraph. You should now see an image of said paragraph literally before your very eyes. This can feel a bit trippy the first few times you do it, but stick with it for 15 minutes as you repeat the routine. If you do this for one month consistently, you should notice that your ability to snap a mental picture of something and memorize it improve greatly. Use the “repeat method” if you’re an aural learner. It’s time to channel your inner broken record as you attempt to lock in a photographic memory by conjuring up an image of a person, place or thing while you continuously repeat who, where or what it is. This photographic memory training technique is particularly helpful when trying to remember things like names of people, where you met them and even their phone number. For example, you met John at the student union and he gave you his phone number. John just so happens to be pretty handsome, which makes his face easier for you to remember, especially that cute little dimple in his chin. His phone number is a bit harder for you since numbers were never really your thing. This is where you utilize your photographic memory by focusing on a mental picture of dimple chinned John while repeating his name, where you met him and his phone number minus the area code unless it’s different than your own. Keep repeating these three pieces of info to yourself while imaging his face. Repeat it until you’re blue in the face or until you’ve solidly committed it to memory, whichever comes first. You can use the repeat method for anything you want to memorize with the assistance of your photographic memory. It will work great with anything you can connect an image to while you repeat yourself. Just remember to use imagery and the necessary information to get the full effect.