Brain train

PUBLISHED : Friday, 05 January, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 05 January, 2007, 12:00am

With the development of technology, we have begun to rely heavily on the latest gadgets to remember the simplest things, be it birthdays, dental appointments or just people's names.

Wouldn't life be a lot easier and efficient if we could remember such things off the top of our heads?

Miki Lee Yuk-kuen is someone who can do just that. She founded the Hong Kong Memory Study Association in September last year.

As a young girl, Lee came to the realisation that a good memory was something she could develop when she discovered a special way of remembering what she was studying.

'Normal people only use about three- to five-per cent of their brains. Einstein only used 18 per cent of his, and he was the smartest man in the world,' Ms Lee, 31, said.

'That shows that our brains have potential to store a lot more information.'

Throughout the years, Ms Lee has devised memory techniques that have enabled her to break a Guinness World Record for memorising and recalling objects in December.

She now teaches her techniques at her memory training centre in Jordan.

While that might sound perfect for Hong Kong, where students commit everything to memory for public examinations, Ms Lee does not encourage rote learning.

'It's pointless to memorise words without first understanding the meaning. I teach that to my students,' she said.

In fact, it is necessary to first have a good understanding, because the most basic way of memorising things is by turning them into images in the brain.

'Relate what you want to remember with what you are familiar with,' she said.

Ms Lee exploits the right hemisphere of her brain, which is responsible for storing pictures and images.

'The best way is to input with your left brain and output with your right. The left hemisphere processes logic and analysis and is used everyday, while the right side is more visual and processes intuitively and imaginatively,' she explained.

If you think you are forgetful, there are ways to improve your memory. Having a healthy lifestyle is a crucial first step.

'A brain needs a lot of sleep.

I always try to get at least eight to nine hours a day and make sure I go to bed early,' she said.

Ms Lee also avoids using mobile phones when possible, because she believes that the radiation emitted is harmful to the brain.

'Scientists have proven that using mobile phones speeds up the ageing process of your brain,' she said.

'Also, people rely on technology too much. They save everything in their phones or emails and never bother to try to memorise information. The less you use your brain, the faster it will dissipate.'

Ms Lee said children should start learning memory skills and practising brain gym exercises at a young age to develop their abilities. 'Schools should be teaching memory skills. The Hong Kong education system is not going to change any time soon, so it's a good idea. Europe has been teaching children how to memorise and exercise their brains for years. It's time Hong Kong started.'