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Apr 9, 2024

Pro Tip: Improve Your Score on Memory Serves

Try these strategies yourself: Play Memory Serves

Learn from the Best

Nelson Dellis is back, and he’s here to help improve your score on Memory Serves. As a person who once memorized 339 random digits in 5 minutes, Nelson shares his best advice for conquering this Working Memory exercise. Check out the video, and try his techniques yourself!

Nelson’s Pro Tips

Visualize a register. Imagine two “columns” in your mind to keep track of how many suitcases you have in each color...sort of like a cash register. Vivid imagery is easier to retain than numbers on their own. The game may not let you see how many suitcases are in the elevator, but in your mind’s eye, you can have a perfect picture to reference.

Update the register aloud. As you pick up and drop off suitcases, continue reciting and updating the quantities aloud. This strategy may seem intuitive, and that’s because it works! By saying the numbers aloud, you’re recruiting multiple senses, and the more senses you involve, the more vivid the information will be. You may find that you don’t always “remember” the number, only to find that you can still “hear” yourself saying it from a moment ago.

Use Spatial Memory to your advantage. Nelson refers to the left and right “corners” of your mind, each corresponding to a color. This isn’t just his manner of speaking, it’s part of his strategy. Humans have evolved a keen memory for the way things are arranged spatially. This aspect of his technique will not only make the memory more “sticky”, but it will help you remember which number corresponds to which color. Otherwise, you may find yourself saying “One, two. One, two” only to realize you don’t remember which color has “one” and which color has “two.”

The Science: Why play Memory Serves?

Memory Serves challenges Working Memory, which allows you to remember information for short periods of time—usually for the purpose of completing a task. More specifically, this game requires the use of Working Memory Updating—your ability to incorporate new and changing information throughout a given activity.

Think of how some restaurant servers are able to take your order without writing anything down. You might even see them taking orders from multiple tables before returning to the kitchen. Accomplishing this feat doesn’t require them to retain the information for long, but it does require them to remember it accurately.

Now imagine that on the way back to the kitchen, the waiter is stopped by a customer wanting to change an order. The task of changing the order in their working memory is called Working Memory Updating.

You could probably come up with dozens of scenarios where Working Memory and Memory Updating are important. Different tasks may call for different strategies, but next time you employ your Working Memory, consider using Nelson’s advice.

Practice by playing a few rounds of Memory Serves, and see if these strategies improve your score!

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