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The old-school method Silicon Valley techies use to hack memory retention


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Practically synonymous with digital and technological innovation, Silicon Valley is exactly the type of place where superhuman methods for biohacking your body come to light. Yet how do the nootropic-aided minds that design your Instagram experience remember so. much. important information? According to some experts, it’s something impossibly low-tech that you probably used to pass high school biology: flash cards.

Silicon Valley–based research fellow Michael Nielsen breaks down complex information into basic bits of data on digital flash cards so he can easily examine them on his phone during downtime, like while waiting in line.

Michael Nielsen, a research fellow at Y Combinator, a start-up accelerator, took to his Twitter feed to share the (simple!) process he uses to learn and retain obscene amounts of information. He breaks down complex ideas into basic bits of data on digital flash cards so he can easily examine them on his phone during downtime, like while waiting in line. Once Nielsen learns the piece of information, he builds on it, making making the flash card increasingly complex.

After about 9,000 digital note cards over two years, Nielsen swears by this method and the way it’s changed his life and memory. “Memory is no longer a haphazard event.… It makes memory a choice,” he tweeted. And this isn’t just a fluke; according to Quartz, Nielson is hardly the only professional using the hack—in fact, research has shown that “spaced repetition,” or information that is repeated over long periods of time, is useful for long-term memory health.

Although these Silicon Valley tech bros use digital flash cards, creating physical, analog ones by writing with pen on paper might even improve your memory even further.

You can also strengthen your memory by using turmeric or by hitting the gym.

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