Memory Month Day 16: Am I Doing it Wrong?

Today I didn’t do much aside from writing and reading. I did, however, have an epiphany in connection to the way I’ve been visualizing.


This is what happened: as I was reading “Blink” by Malcolm Gladwell, I ran into something I wanted to remember. Because I am undergoing this memory challenge, I appropriately decided to make use of my memory. Of course, I also wrote it down. You know, for good measure…

Before going into any more details, let me see if I can remember it: Ventromedian Prefrontal Cortex. Aaaand I just checked and guess what! I was off by one letter. In fact, it’s called ventromedial prefrontal cortex. I’m fine with that… 😀

As I was reading the book, I ran into a part where it spoke of this part of the brain, saying that it is important for emotional processing. Actually, it spoke a great deal more about it, and about its connection to the subconscious, but I won’t get into all that.

So, I see this, and I want to remember it. The technique I wanted to use was that of visualizing, since that’s what this week is about. Thankfully, Gladwell mentioned that this part of the brain is located behind the nose. So I imagined in my mind’s eye the part of the brain right behind the nose, with the words “ventromedial prefrontal cortex” written on it. By the way, the specific word I was having problems remembering was ventromedial…obviously, since this was the one I got wrong.

At first I was quite happy with the results, so I kept on reading. However, after a few hours, when I tried to remember it again, I realized all I could remember was “prefrontal cortex”. The first part, which was exactly the one I wanted to plant in my mind, was gone.

I started thinking about where I went wrong, because there must have been something that didn’t go right. After a few minutes of careful inspection I found it.

Visualizing is all about creating a rich mental picture of what you’re trying to remember. Of course, that’s not what I did. I created a mental picture, sure. But it was a lousy one. Having realized this, I went back to my notebook and tried it all over again. This time, I separated the word into two parts so that I could picture it in my head easier. The first part, “ventro”, I associated with “ventral”, which means abdominal. I have no clue whether these two are connected, but it doesn’t matter for my purposes. Then, “medial”, made me think of the middle. So, putting these two together, I imagined an abdomen with a line over its middle.

Was this more rich and vivid than the previous try? Yes! Was it by a lot? No, not really. However, I did have to play with the concepts a little more in my mind, in order to come up with it. As you’ve noticed, I wasn’t completely successful, because I still messed one letter up. Personally, I think it’s because of all the statistics that I’ve been doing (median, anyone?). However, I was a lot more successful at recalling a word I have never seen in my entire life after the second time.


  • Confused about what’s going on? Click here!
  • For the post that started this challenge, click here.
  • For yesterday’s entry, click here.

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