How to Memorize a Deck of Cards (And Other Brain-Training Tricks)

Mar 23, 2012 5:08pm

They say dogs have a short-term memory of about 20 seconds. Honestly? Mine is worse.

Beyond the missing keys and repeated calls to directory assistance, that fact became even more evident when a recent office guest challenged me to memorize the order of five playing cards.

Casino owners can relax because I couldn’t get past two.

But then my guest–who happens to be the reigning National Memory Champion–gave me a lesson that changed my life.

Like most of the world’s mental athletes, Nelson Dellis was born with a very average memory. But after his grandmother began suffering the ravages of Alzheimer’s, the 28-year-old began looking for the kind of mental exercises that help stave off the excruciating disease. This is when he stumbled into the technique that has been used since Cicero gave day-long speeches before the ancient Roman senate (without a stone teleprompter). And after just a few years of daily practice, Nelson has trained his brain to memorize an entire deck of cards in 63 seconds or a string of more than 200 random numbers in less than five minutes.

Since this method involves picturing famous people naked wandering the halls of your high school, it is a hell of a lot more fun than repeating numbers ad nauseum. And if you watch the video, you’ll see how fast you can retrain your brain.

 

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