Use color for memory improvement

There's a new report out about how making your iPhone display ugly may help you better remember what you see on it: from map directions to your emails. It uses colors to focus your attention. 

In my experience memorizing a deck of cards in one minute, or an 80-digit number in 55 seconds, color comes in handy. I translate all the cards, or numbers, into predefined images, and combine those into a story to make memorizing something abstract easy.

When I add color, I've found that it's much easier to recall the information later. For example, if I need to remember 17-88-52, I picture Daffy Duck (17) surfing (88) with a lion (52). (There's a method behind why each number represents each picture; I'll cover that in a future blog post.)

Visualizing Daffy Duck's yellow beak, the white and blue surfboard, and the golden yellow of the lion makes for a strong image.

In this paper in the Malaysian Journal of Medical Sciences, report authors Mariam Adawiah Dzulkifli and Muhammad Faiz Mustafar discuss how color can focus attention: 

"Colour helps us in memorizing certain information by increasing our attentional level. The role played by colour in enhancing our attention level is undisputable (14,23). The more attention focused on certain stimuli, the more chances of the stimuli to be transferred to a more permanent memory storage (18). As stated earlier, colours have the potential to attract attention."

The paper is interesting but pretty dense. Here's an article about the paper that summarizes it well.

If you want to try it for yourself, go to: Settings -> General -> Accessibility and select “Invert Colors."

If you do this experiment, leave a comment or send me an email with your thoughts!

Whether you try this or not, do something every day to exercise your memory. It's easy, fun and it'll help 10 years from now!