9 Insights From Brain Science To Make You Unforgettable

9 Insights From #Brain #Science To Make You #Unforgettable

Most people want to be remembered for something. We want to be the type of people that leave an impression and influence others in positive ways.

However, many of us are flying blind as to how to become memorable and influential. Many fall prey to expensive, unhelpful information on this topic. Fortunately, neurosresearch is shedding light on what makes a person or thing memorable. Brain researchers have uncovered several key insights that you can apply to keep your message on people's minds.

Dr. Carmen Simon is at the forefront of exploring and applying the neuroscience of being memorable. She is a cognitive neuroscientist, author and founder of Memzy, a company that uses brain science to help corporations create memorable messages. Carmen’s most recent book, “Impossible to Ignore: Create Memorable Content to Influence Decisions,” has won the acclaim of publications such as, Forbes and Fast Company and has been selected as one of the top international books on persuasion.

Here are some key insights:

1) The Foundation of Memory and Influence is Attention

Attention is a precursor to memory. It’s much easier for you to be memorable when people are paying attention. If you have attention, you’re more likely to be remembered. If you’re remembered, you’re more likely to influence their decision-making.

The question, whether you’re talking face-to-face or virtually, whether you’re talking to one person or one hundred, whether you talk to somebody professionally or personally is:

Can you manage to capture your audiences' attention and stay on their minds long enough to influence what they do next?

The #Brain Chooses to #Remember and #Act on #Things It Wants to Move #Towards

2) The Brain Chooses to Remember and Act on Things It Wants to Move Towards

The most ancient reason we have a brain is so that we can move.  The brain does not move unless there is a memory involved. Unless you stay on people’s minds, it’ll be harder for you to influence where they move next - literally and metaphorically.

3) Keep in Mind that People Suck at Remembering

We forget our lives almost as quickly as we live them.

Most people forget 90% of what you share with them after 48 hours. Will your audience remember the most important 10%? Before you communicate, ask yourself “what is my 10%?” What is the “10%” of information you want your audience to remember? Unless you are intentional about it, it’s probable that they won’t remember your important message.

Start with the question: What would you *really* like people to remember? Many of us aspire to be memorable, but very few of us know what we want to be memorable for.

By far, the biggest communication mistake that people make is not having clarity about what they want to put in other's minds. Getting clarity for your message gives you an increased chance of being memorable.

The #Brain Makes Every #Decision Based on #Memories

4) The Brain Makes Every Decision Based on Memories

The brain does not make any decision unless there is memory involved. There is no decision that you'll ever make, consciously or not, that does not reference your memory. If we want to convince people to move towards us and our message, we have to figure ways to stay in people’s minds.

5) The Brain is Lazy

The brain remembers and acts on that which is easy. Given the choice to think or not to think, what do we prefer? The brain is constantly looking for ways to conserve energy because it consumes a lot of energy. So any chance it finds to conserve cognitive energy, it will take it. So if you want to stay on people’s minds, don’t only ask “what is my 10%?” but also, “how can a make my 10% come to mind easily?”

Get #Clear on What You Want People to #Remember

6) Get Clear on What You Want People to Remember

It is important to ask oneself “do I have the clarity of that 10% message and do I enable cognitive ease?”

You cannot control something unless you determine what it is you want to control. So be sure you have the clarity of that message.

7) Predictability Can Help With Memory

The brain helped us survive by predicting the future. It predicts the future by referencing past memories. For this reason, to maintain an audience's attention, it’s usually best to help your audience predict what is next. How can you cultivate a feeling of familiarity among your audience with your message?

One way is to help your audience create mental models, templates, schema for interpreting reality and your message. Humans thrive on building mental models. If we didn’t have our templates, life would be overwhelming.

Have you ever experienced shock when a familiar grocery store changes its layout ? When that happens, somebody has messed with a cognitive mental model that you had about that place. We love mental schema because they help us conserve energy. When we have a reliable mental model for where the avocados are, we don't need to think about which aisle to go down to find them.


You’re More Forgettable to Those Who Are Not Thinking Like You

8) You’re More Forgettable to Those Who Are Not Thinking Like You

Sometimes the reason we’re forgettable is because the mental schema in our minds doesn’t match with how the audience models the world.

Quite often we’d like to portray our ourselves as novelty seekers, but given the choice between familiarity and novelty, what do you really prefer? If we put your brain in an fMRI and flashed a set of pictures in front of your eyes at 1 per every 250 milliseconds - faster than your conscious brain could recognize - we would see evidence that your unconscious mind prefered familiar images to novel ones. The reason is that the familiarity makes them easier for your brain to work with.

So to help your audience attend to your message, try to hook it into an existing mental model that your audience is familiar with.

9) Work in Novelty and Surprise

Too much familiarity can backfire. If you’re exposed to too much of the same information, you may pay attention at first, but after a while you will become habituated to it and no longer pay attention. Finding the right balance between familiarity and surprise is important.

Some people think novelty and surprise are the same, but they are not. Something novel is something that you haven’t seen or heard before. A surprise is something that you’ve seen or heard before, but did not expect.

The brain is constantly looking for ways to predict what happens next. Surprise is essentially a prediction error. Thus, biologically speaking, surprise is “bad” in that it signifies that your brain was not able to predict what happens next.

And yet, we enjoy surprises all the same. Part of the reason we enjoy surprises is because they can trigger pleasurable neurochemicals, opiates, to get released into the brain. But we also enjoy surprises because the gap between what you expect, and what happens in reality, is where the brain learns.

The question is whether you can be a good choreographer between something that is familiar to you and your audience, and something that they did not expect. Too much familiarity, you’re boring. Too much surprise, you’re weird and tiring.

If you’re talking to risk-tolerant audience, you can incorporate more surprise elements than usual into your communication. However, even a small amount of surprise is sufficient to take the brain out of its habituation.

9 Insights From #Brain #Science To Make You #Unforgettable

In Short...

The more your thinking matches your audience's thinking, the easier it is to hold their attention. Make your message as familiar as possible and sprinkle in novelty and surprise.  If you have a person’s attention, you’re more memorable. If you’re more memorable, you are more likely to influence decision-making.

The meat of this post was drawn from Dr Carmen Simon's Consciousness Hacking Talk on April 27th, 2018. Check it out.


This post was lovingly crafted by Josiah Hultgren. He is Founder/CEO of MindFullyAlive, a Senior Lecturer at California Lutheran University, a cognitive coach, and a practical neuroscience expert. He produces and curates mindfulness content designed to improve structure and functioning of the brain.

How to Enhance Your Memory with Simple Learning Hacks

How to Enhance Your Mind with Simple #Learning Hacks

Admission: Memory is not my natural strong suit. Fortunately, brain-research has validated some simple practices that measurably enhance anyone's memory.

The truth is, most humans have poor memory. Why? A big reason is that our normal awareness is extremely limited. Most people can only hold 4-7 tiny bits of information in working memory at a time.

Want to see if you can do better?
Take a glance at this set of numbers:


 1 – 8 – 6 – 2 – 5 – 5 – 5 – 6 – 3 – 5 - 7


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Now close your eyes and try to recall the numbers. If you can, congratulations! Only 1% of people can do this. This is because the brain is trying to take in 11 chunks of information instead of 4-7.

Let’s look at the number a different way: 800-555-6357. When we look at it as a phone number, it becomes much easier to remember. When we chunk information effectively, our memory expands.

That said, our brain’s frontal lobes only keep that information for a few seconds. Then, another set of “chunks” will catch our attention. Worse, the learning centers of our brains can only deal with one or two ideas at a time.

So to efficiently learn anything, key information must get absorbed with precision. Then, your brain needs time to absorb it and encode it into long-term memory. 

Nobel Laureate Eric Kandel explains in his book In Search of Memory that your brain needs rest to form long-term memories. This is why top athletes and other performers divide their practice into time-limited sessions with breaks.

During these breaks, it’s best to spend time daydreaming. Many consider mind-wandering a bad habit, but when you daydream your awareness expands throughout your brain. Meanwhile, hundreds of thoughts get processed and stored in your deeper memory.

You can improve your recall by taking just 60 seconds to let your mind wander after you learn something new. Just sit back, relax, and let your mind go anywhere it wants. The same holds true if you’ve been focusing on a task for a while. If you set alarms to give yourself micro-vacations, your performance will improve.

By learning in small chunks and giving yourself seconds to daydream, your performance can skyrocket.


Brain connectivity during resting state and subsequent working memory task predicts behavioural performance. Sala-Llonch R, Peña-Gómez C, Arenaza-Urquijo EM, Vidal-Piñeiro D, Bargalló N, Junqué C, Bartrés-Faz D. Cortex. 2012 Oct; 48( 9): 1187-96.

Brief wakeful resting boosts new memories over the long term. Dewar M, Alber J, Butler C, Cowan N, Della Sala S. Psychol Sci. 2012 Sep 1;23( 9): 955-60.

Words Can Change Your Brain. Newberg A, M.D., Waldman, M. R., Penguin Group, 2012.

Nondirective meditation activates default mode network and areas associated with memory retrieval and emotional processing. Xu J, Vik A, Groote IR, Lagopoulos J, Holen A, Ellingsen O, Håberg AK, Davanger S. Front Hum Neurosci. 2014 Feb 26;8: 86.

Kandel, E. In Search of Memory. Norton, 2006.

This post was lovingly crafted by Josiah Hultgren. He is Founder/CEO of MindFullyAlive, a Senior Lecturer at California Lutheran University, a cognitive coach, and a practical neuroscience expert. He produces and curates mindfulness content designed to improve structure and functioning of the brain.

How You Can Practice More Effectively

How You Can Practice More Effectively

TEDEd published a video exploring research-backed ways you can more quickly upgrade your skill levels.

"Mastering any physical skill, be it performing a pirouette, playing an instrument, or throwing a baseball, takes practice. Practice is the repetition of an action with the goal of improvement, and it helps us perform with more ease, speed, and confidence. So what does practice do in our brains to make us better at things?

Our brains have two kinds of neural tissue: grey matter and white matter. The grey matter processes information in the brain, directing signals and sensory stimuli to nerve cells, while white matter is mostly made up of fatty tissue and nerve fibers. In order for our bodies to move, information needs to travel from the brain's grey matter, down the spinal cord, through a chain of nerve fibers called axons to our muscles.

So how does practice or repetition affect the inner workings of our brains? The axons that exist in the white matter are wrapped with a fatty substance called myelin. And it's this myelin covering, or sheath, that seems to change with practice. Myelin is similar to insulation on electrical cables. It prevents energy loss from electrical signals that the brain uses, moving them more efficiently along neural pathways.

Some recent studies in mice suggest that the repetition of a physical motion increases the layers of myelin sheath that insulates the axons. And the more layers, the greater the insulation around the axon chains; forming a sort of superhighway for information connecting your brain to your muscles.

So while many athletes and performers attribute their successes to muscle memory, muscles themselves don't really have memory. Rather, it may be the myelination of neural pathways that gives these athletes and performers their edge with faster and more efficient neural pathways.

There are many theories that attempt to quantify the number of hours, days, and even years of practice that it takes to master a skill.

So if effective practice is the key, how can we get the most out of our practice time?"

Try these tips

How You Can Practice More Effectively

1. Focus on the Task at Hand

"Minimize potential distractions by turning off the computer or TV and putting your cell phone on airplane mode. In one study, researchers observed 260 students studying. On average, those students were able to stay on task for only six minutes at a time. Laptops, smartphones, and particularly Facebook were the root of most distractions."

How You Can Practice More Effectively

2. Go SLOW

"Coordination is built with repetitions, whether correct or incorrect. If you gradually increase the speed of the quality repetitions, you have a better chance of doing them correctly."

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How You Can Practice More Effectively

3. Frequent Repetitions with Allotted Breaks

"Studies have shown that many top athletes, musicians, and dancers spend 50-60 hours per week on activities related to their craft. Many divide their time used for effective practice into multiple daily practice sessions of limited duration."

How You Can Practice More Effectively

4. Practice in Your Imagination

"It's a bit surprising, but a number of studies suggest that once a physical motion has been established, it can be reinforced just by imagining it.

In one study, 144 basketball players were divided into two groups. Group A physically practiced one-handed free throws while Group B only mentally practiced them. When they were tested at the end of the two week experiment, the intermediate and experienced players in both groups had improved by nearly the same amount."

You can drive deeper into the content of this video and the research behind it here.

The above post was lovingly crafted by Josiah Hultgren. Josiah Hultgren is Founder/CEO of MindFullyAlive, a Senior Lecturer at California Lutheran University, a NeuroCoach, and a practical neuroscience expert. He produces and curates mindfulness content designed to improve structure and functioning of the brain. His mission is to help create a more vibrant world and apply neuroscience in ways that help people reach their highest potential.