Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Using Visual Accessing Cues For Better Memorization

In 1985 there was a PHD thesis published researching the use of the same visual eye movements that are used in NLP to tell wither or not somebody is lying. Rather than use the eye movements to read the body language of a subject, the researcher had subjects utilize these same strategies in order to help memorization of how to spell words.

This article references information in a previous article I wrote on visual accessing cues. If you are not familiar with this technique, I suggest reading the article in the second link above, or clicking here.

This research falls under cognitive strategies, which as the name suggests; are learning, and thinking strategies we can use to increase mental performance, and memory. Another paper from the University of Utah defines these strategies, which differ somewhat person-to-person, as personal strategies
"A strategy is an ordered sequence of cognitive behavioral experiences that is repeated in the same or similar contexts. An experience is personal, so must strategies be. For example, when I tie my shoelaces in the morning, there is a sequence of experiences--mostly of the small muscle sensations and skin pressures in my fingers--that are repeated from past shoe-tying contexts. Even though million of people tie their shoes every day, the exact sequence of my experiences, probably slightly different from anyone else's, must occur for me personally if my shoes are to be tied."
 The reason why these strategies are personal is because not every strategy works for everyone. It is important to provide people (or more specifically, children who don't know how to tie their shoes) with pictures, stories ("make the bunny ears"), and demonstrations of how to tie a knot. As these children learn, they also develop internal representations of what a knot is. Therefore it would make sense that remembering what a knot looks like, visualizing a knot, or saying the steps of tying a knot out loud ("a rabbit comes out of the hole, goes around the tree...") would all help in remembering how to tie your shoe. The example the paper gives is that when experienced spellers try to spell a non-phonetic word, such as "Albuquerque"; they will visualize the word, and then spell it out based off of their mental image of the word.

In both these tests, the results were almost identical. In the Loiselle test All the subjects were given a spelling "pretest". Group A was simply told to "learn the words", and scored same as the pretest. Group B was told to "visualize the words as a method of learning them", and scored 10% better. Group C was told to "look up to the left", which NLP claims helps visual memory, and scored 20-25% better! A further group, Group D, were told to "look down to the right" (kinesthetic, and internal dialogue), but may hinder visualizing. People in this group scored 15% worse than pretest.

In the Malloy test the visualization spelling strategy produced a 25 percent improvement in spelling ability (and 100% retention) compared to no change in a control group but that spellers told to visualize when looking "down to the left" (kinesthetic feeling) scored around 10% worse.

Of course these studies only suggest that these techniques would only help with spelling. Although I seriously doubt that this only applies to spelling. Nevertheless, this research opens the door for all types of other questions. Would looking down and to the left or right (kniestethic) help with typing correctly on a blank keyboard? Or would it not help because even though typing is a physical activity, it is still a memorization task? Does looking down/right affect spelling performance any more or less then looking down/left? IS the eye movement simply a memory cue that helps with memorization, and if so why do people who look down perform worse on the tests?