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信息碎片化的时代,如何提升记忆力?

更新时间:2017-10-25 12:32:40 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Simple Ways to Be Better at Remembering
信息碎片化的时代,如何提升记忆力?

When the sum total of human knowledge rests an arm’s length away in each person’s pocket, why do we have to remember anything anymore?

当全人类的知识都被装在每个人的口袋里、唾手可得的时候,我们为什么非得再费心去记任何东西?

On an average day most of us check our smartphones 47 times, and nearly double that if we’re between the ages of 18 and 24, which might explain why some of us have such a hard time processing the information we take in to form memories. Smartphones alter the way we way walk, talk and think, and we’re barely keeping up.

平时,我们大多数人每天会查看智能手机47次,年龄在18岁至24岁之间的人次数几乎会多出一倍。这或许可以解释,我们中的一些人为什么会觉得,处理自己吸收进来的信息并形成记忆这件事如此困难。智能手机改变了我们走路、交谈、思考的方式,而我们难以跟上。

“Everything is available through a Google search almost instantaneously, so what motive do you have to store useless info?” said Joseph LeDoux, who directs New York University’s Emotional Brain Institute.

“通过谷歌搜索引擎几乎可以立即搜到一切,那你还有什么动力去储存无用的信息?”纽约大学(New York University)情绪脑研究所(Emotional Brain Institute)所长约瑟夫·勒杜(Joseph LeDoux)说。

Mr. LeDoux, whose work focuses on how the brain forms memories, said this instant-fact setup clouds our judgment on what information to filter and store. Since we’re no longer weighed down by having to retain trivial data, we are left with greater cognitive space. But how do we select what we remember?

致力于研究大脑如何形成记忆的勒杜说,这种即时的设置搅乱了我们的判断,不知该过滤和储存哪些信息。由于不再因为必须保留琐碎的数据而不堪重负,我们有了更大的认知空间。但我们该如何选择,什么样的东西才是应当记住的?

He said there are two main kinds of memories: explicit, which are created through conscious experience, and implicit, which form when past experiences affect us, sometimes without our knowledge, as in reacting with fear in dangerous situations or getting sweaty palms when you see a dog if you were once bitten.

勒杜说,记忆主要分为两种:一种是外显记忆,它通过意识体验形成;另一种是内隐记忆,在过去的经历影响我们之时形成,有时候内隐记忆的形成是不知不觉的——比如在情况危急时做出惊恐的反应,或者如果你被狗咬过,看到狗时手心就会出汗。

Memory is a fallible thing, changing over time. Recalling a long-term memory brings it back into our short-term memory, which essentially gives it new context. Memory is therefore a reconstruction, not a photographic recording, and for economic purposes, our brains — unlike computers — are forever rerecording those memories, making them far more error prone.

记忆是一种容易出错的东西,会随着时间的推移而改变。回忆的时候,长期记忆回到我们的短期记忆之中,这其实是给了它新的关联。因此记忆是一种重新构造的过程,而不是用照片把事情记录下来;而且,出于合算的目的,我们的大脑——不同于计算机——会一直重新记录这些记忆,从而让记忆更加容易出错。

On top of that, we now live inside dual screens and endless browser tabs, headphones streaming music, smartphones buzzing, co-workers chatting with us on Slack — all while we should be performing the actual jobs we’re paid to be doing.

此外,我们现在生活在两块屏幕和无穷尽的浏览器标签页之中,耳机中播放着音乐,智能手机哔哔作响,同事在Slack上跟我们聊天——所有这一切都发生在我们应该对得起自己的薪水、好好工作之时。

“Many people seem unaware that they might accomplish more with sustained, uninterrupted attention to one task,” said Nelson Cowan, a working memory specialist at the University of Missouri. “It can be exhilarating to flit from one conversation to another on Facebook, but people don’t realize what’s missing in the process. It’s like having a delicious soup poured on your head. Often the people who think they’re the best at sharing attention between tasks are actually missing the most.”

“很多人似乎都没意识到,如果不受干扰地持续专注于一项任务,他们可能会取得更好的成果,”密苏里大学(University of Missouri)工作记忆专家纳尔逊·考恩(Nelson Cowan)说。“在Facebook上从一场对话跳到另一场对话会令人兴奋不已,但人们没有意识到在此过程中失去了什么。这就好像一道美味的汤被洒在头上。自认为最善于同时关注不同任务的人,其实常常漏掉很多东西。”

Mr. LeDoux added: “The brain does have limitations to what it can process or handle.”

考恩补充说:“大脑在处理或应对信息方面的确是有局限的。”

They’re both right, but there are still things we can do to improve our memories.

他们俩都是对的,但我们还是可以采取一些行动来改善记忆。

Repeat After Me

重复温习

As simple as it sounds, the repetition of tasks — reading, or saying words over and over — continues to be the best method for transforming short-term memories into long-term ones. To do that, we have to retrain our minds to focus on one task at a time. Sadly, most bypass this formula because we’re already convinced we’re productive.

和听起来一样简单,重复执行任务——一遍又一遍地阅读单词或将其念出声——仍然是把短期记忆转化为长期记忆的最佳途径。这样做的时候,我们必须保持注意力的集中,每次执行一项任务。可悲的是,我们大多数人都忽略了这一准则,因为我们已然相信自己可以一心多用。

New connections are made in your brain when you learn. To remember what you learn, do what you probably did in your youth: Repeat words, thoughts and ideas over and over until you get them right. It’s the easiest brain game there is.

学习的时候,新的连接会在你的大脑中形成。要记住学的东西,就得做你年少时大约做过的事情:反复记单词,反复琢磨一些想法和观念,直到完全记牢。这是最简单的大脑游戏。

Take Your Time

慢慢来

Forget cramming. It didn’t work in college, it doesn’t work now. Spaced repetition might be the best way.

忘了临时抱佛脚吧。它在大学里没管用过,现在也不管用。间隔式重复或许最好的记忆法。

Robert Bjork, the chair of U.C.L.A.’s psychology department, said that quickly stuffing facts into our brains leads us to forget them in the long term (he even filmed a YouTube video series on the subject). When you rehearse knowledge and practice it often, it sticks, research has shown. So if you can incorporate what you’re trying to remember into daily life, ideally over time, your chances of retaining it drastically improve.

加州大学洛杉矶分校(UCLA)心理系主任罗伯特·比约克(Robert Bjork)说,快速把信息塞进大脑的结果是,时间一长我们就会忘记它们(他甚至就这一问题制作了一则视频,发在YouTube上)。研究显示,如果你经常温习或练习一些知识,就会将其记得很牢。因此,从理论上来说,如果你能把试图记住的东西融入自己的日常生活,那么假以时日,你记住它们的概率会大幅提升。

But once you stop rehearsing that knowledge, the retention drops profoundly. Researchers call this the “forgetting curve.”

但你一旦停止温习那些知识,记住的概率便会大幅下降。研究人员称之为“遗忘曲线”。

To get past it, space out your repetition over a few days and test the effect yourself. But be careful: Spacing out sessions or scheduling them too concurrently seem to slow gains, so find a healthy medium that works. This is a good way to effectively start tackling a new language.

要解决这一问题,你应该每隔几天进行一次重复记忆,并自行测试其效果。不过请当心:间隔期太长或太短似乎都见效缓慢,因此得找出一个行得通的适中的间隔期。这是有效地开始处理新知识的好方法。

Sit Down and Stay Put

坐下来,不要动

Memory and focus go hand-in-hand. Dr. Cowan suggests rearranging our office setup as one way to improve focus. He believes the collaborative start-up design and open offices touted by Silicon Valley’s hoodied C.E.O.s actually make us far less productive because they create added distractions. How do you stay on task if your co-worker is piloting a drone or endlessly, and loudly, snacking just inches away?

记忆力和专注度密切相关。考恩博士给出的一个提高专注度的方法,是改造办公室的格局。他认为,硅谷那些身穿连帽衫的首席执行官大肆吹捧的初创企业联合办公空间或开放式办公场所,其实会大大降低我们的工作效率,因为它们额外制造出许多让人分心的因素。如果同事在旁边操控无人机,或在几英寸之外无休止地嘎吱嘎吱吃零食,你怎么才能专注于自己的工作?

“The rebirth of the open workplace cannot be helping this situation,” Dr. Cowan said, alluding to work spaces without desks, physical barriers and privacy, but with a plethora of playthings. Yoga rooms, rock climbing and gardens can be great perks, but they can make it difficult to deliver on deadline with so much stimuli.

“开放式办公空间重获新生,对这种情况不会有帮助,”考恩博士说。他指的没有办公桌、实体格档和隐私,但有很多玩物的办公空间。瑜伽室、攀岩设施和花园是很棒的福利,但它们制造出太多刺激,会让人难以按时完成任务。

Multiple studies have found that procrastination leads to stress and downright kills focus. Stop engaging in useless tasks like surfing the web and just tackle whatever it is you need to work on. Then watch your focus soar and your memory improve. Dr. Cowan said both perform better when they aren’t cheating on each other pursuing so-called “life hacks.”

多项研究表明,拖延会带来压力,并彻底杀死专注力。别再做无用的事情,比如浏览网页,赶紧聚焦于你需要完成的任务吧。然后你就会发现自己的专注力大幅上升,记忆力也有所改善。考恩博士说,当专注力和记忆力不再相互欺骗、去追寻所谓的“生活技巧”的时候,两者的表现都会变得更好。

Incentivize Moments and Read Cues

激励的时刻和阅读提示

Minds wander constantly. For students, adding frequent tests incentivizes focus because they know they’ll be quizzed. Harvard researchers report this approach decreases daydreaming by 50 percent, improving the result.

人们常常走神。对学生来说,增加考试频次会激发专注力,因为他们知道自己要参加考试。哈佛的研究人员称,这种方法能让走神的情况减少50%。

Daniel Schacter, a psychologist and a co-author of the Harvard study who also wrote “The Seven Sins Of Memory,” said the trick is focus. For some tasks, like online surfing, divided attention sounds harmless, but when we’re behind the wheel, it’s anything but. That forgetfulness can change the course of entire lives, the most serious vulnerability of memory, he added.

哈佛这篇研究论文的联合作者、著有《记忆七罪》(The Seven Sins Of Memory)一书的心理学家丹尼尔·沙克特(Daniel Schacter)说,专注是秘诀所在。对一些任务而言,比如浏览网页,分心似乎没有什么害处,但当我们开车的时候,分心绝对有害无益。他还说,健忘是记忆的最严重漏洞,可以改变整个生活的轨迹。

Mr. Schacter suggests employing cues — visual or verbal for items like keys — to associate places and things. And our electronic devices can help remind us, everything from mobile vaccination and immunization alerts to apps like Waze that can remind you that you left your baby in the car. It can sound silly, but it’s also tragic when we fail.

沙克特建议,针对钥匙这样的东西,利用视觉或口头上的提示,把地点和物品联系起来。此外,我们的电子设备会帮助提醒我们一切,手机会提醒你疫苗接种和免疫相关事宜,Waze之类的应用会提醒你,你把婴儿落在了车里。听上去或许很荒唐,但如果真的忘了,可就悲剧了。

“Memory is very cue dependent,” he said, referring to something he calls absent-minded memory failure. “Most say it could never happen to me, but it’s a very long list of responsible people that it has happened to. When you don’t have that cue, you can forget almost anything.”

“记忆非常依赖提示,”沙克特提及他称之为心不在焉式记忆故障的情形时说。“大多数人都会说,这样的事绝不会发生在我身上,但这样的事曾发生在太多靠得住的人身上。如果得不到提示,你几乎可能忘掉所有的一切。”

He added: “The really tricky thing about absent-minded memory failure is it can affect almost anything if the cue is not present at the moment you need to catch a reaction.”

他还说:“心不在焉式记忆故障的真正麻烦之处在于,它可能影响到几乎每件事——如果提示未能在你需要做出反应时出现的话。”

A simple way around that is to set reminders. Even better, combine a few of these techniques: Write your reminder on a Post-it and put it on your desk so you’re forced to repeatedly look at it over a prolonged period, incorporating the practice of spaced repetition. Build on your memory by combining these approaches. Modern life offers few guarantees, but using even one of these tips is surely an improvement.

一个简单的解决办法是设置提醒。最好是将这几种方法结合起来:把提示信息写在便利贴上,放在案头,如此一来你就会被迫在很长一段时间里反复看到它,这其实是融入了间隔式重复记忆法。通过结合着使用这些方法,来夯实你的记忆。现代生活中基本没有什么可以打包票,但哪怕是使用其中一种方法,也肯定会让记忆力得到提高。

“A lot of people are overconfident that they can handle distractions,” Mr. Schacter said. “Doing two things at once always has an effect. Be aware of the situation you’re in and understand when you let attention divide you, you’re likely to pay the price. In some situations it may not matter, but in others it could change everything.”

“很多人过分自信,以为自己能掌控得了分心的情况,”沙克特说。“一心二用常常是有后果的。要当心你面临的这种情况,要明白一心二用可能会让你付出代价。有时候这或许没什么,但另外一些时候,这可能会改变一切。”

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