NEUROSCIENZA: il tuo cervello e te, i test di Ian Robertson


Con riferimento all’articolo che avete appena letto, ecco qualche esercizio proposto dal Prof. Ian Robertson per verificare e migliorare le vostre capacità mentali:

Let’s start with a simple memory exercise.

Read this list of words, deciding whether each word begins with a vowel or a consonant. Read only once, close your eyes, and see how many you can remember.

Wall, ostrich, field, bell, slug, soldier, soil, acre, girl, tree.

How many did you get right? – If you got them all after just one reading, that is pretty good indeed. Probably you only remembered some of them.

Now read this second list of words, this time deciding whether each words is living or non-living. Again, read just once and try to memorise them.

Floor, sky, turkey, tower, pilot, worm, grass, man, mile, flower.

How many did you get right this time?

You probably remembered more of the second list than the first. This is because making the judgment ‘living versus non-living’ forced you to ACTIVELY READ the first list more than the first list, where you had to make the superficial judgments as to whether the words began with vowels or consonants.

By forcing your brain to penetrate into the meanings of these words to be learned, it automatically made a stronger memory trace for each word, than when you didn’t have to consider the meaning of each word in the first list.

This is an example of active reading, and the same principles can apply to active listening. We remember what we do better than what we are told, and active reading/listening is an example of mental ‘doing’.

Tear up your Shopping list

If you are going to the shop to buy 4 or 5 items, do you write them down? You don’t have to if you learn this method

The ancient Romans had a whole host of memory-boosting exercises – they named them mnemonics – and they used them to impress friends and Senators by giving long and convincing speeches without reference to any notes.

One method that the Romans really liked was called the method of loci. Try this ancient memory method yourself now.

Try this

Pick some path or route that you know well – from your house to the nearest shop, for instance, or from a car park or station to your work. OR pick a room such as your living room or kitchen.

Now take a mental walk along on the route or round the room, visualising the places you know well. E.g., in your living room – the sofa, television, lamp, door, coffee table.

Make sure you can visualise these 5 places well.

Now take this shopping list: potatoes, lettuce, soap powder, chicken, apples

Take each of these items and visualise each at a different place on the route or in the room.

Now remember your shopping list by mentally walking back the same route and mentally picking up the objects.

If you practice using this route, you will never need to write down short shopping lists again. And you can gradually increase the length of the list.

Make mental pictures of what you want to learn.
Here’s another tip for how to improve how much you remember from what you read.

Read the following list of words twice, and try to remember them. When you have read them, close the page and see how many you can remember – write them down on a scrap of paper and then compare them with the list below.


Now read this second list. This time, try to picture the object in your mind as you read each word. Read the list just once, but make sure you have created an image of the object in your mind’s eye of each object. As with the first list, see how many you can remember — write them down on a scrap of paper and then compare them with the list below.


You should have found that it was easier to remember the second list, though there can be exceptions and some people find it hard to create visual images and so don’t benefit from this. In general, however, we are more likely to remember ‘dog’ if we see it as a picture, than if we see or hear it as a word.

Tratto da una intervista a Ian Robertson.


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