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9. Remembering: Hacks 81–92 > 87. Boost Memory Using Context

Boost Memory Using Context

Your memories aren’t stored discretely like objects in a filing cabinet; rather, they are interleaved with other things in memory. This explains why you’re good with faces but not with names, why you should go back to your hometown to better remember your school days, and maybe even why you dream, too.

Human memory is not organized like a filing cabinet or a hard disk drive. In these storage systems, each memory is neatly indexed and stored so that it doesn’t affect any other memory. The items in a computer memory don’t affect processing unless they are explicitly retrieved, and to retrieve them, you have to consult an index to work out where they are. If you don’t know where they are or if you don’t have the right tag by which to access the files, you’re out of luck—you’re stuck with a brute force look through each file, one by one. The same holds for finding related items—you do it through some form of indexing system or again resort to a brute-force search. The system is content-....


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