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Neurohacking - Tutorials
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Sunday, 05 February 2012 12:46
Article Index
Neurohacking Tutorial 8 - Imagination, Memory and Prediction
Neuroanatomy of Memory - Structure and Function
Everywhere and Nowhere
How Memories are Made
What Happens if Things Go Wrong?
Core Skills for Memory Health and Improvement
Imagination and Prediction
NHA Guide to Methods & Technology
The Most Important Bits To Remember
Hacks & Exercices
Notes, References & Answers
All Pages


Neurohacking Tutorial 8

Imagination, Memory and Prediction

(Updated: Feb 2012)


In this tutorial we’ll look at memory and prediction, exploring further the multiple roles of imagination. Once you have networks 1&2 nicely balanced, the fastest way of all to upgrade memory and learning both at once is by exercising or augmenting network 3. Therefore we are going to look at the core skills for memory health and improvement, and other possibilities for improving or augmenting network 3.

In Tutorial 7 we learned that the same process which directs the growth of brain hardware is later re-employed to direct concept formation (perception), the learning cycle, and the behavior of mind software. In this tutorial we will see how the process is employed in memory.


Follow the Right Habit


Let's take a moment to consider how you think of your memory in relation to your whole intelligence.

We can see how having a good memory is essential to learning, and that memory is a great deal more than this. Perhaps you think of memory like an historical record; enabling you to go back into the past and see what was going on ten minutes ago, a day, months or years. You may be aware that your memory is not perfect; that it is a reconstruction of facts and experiences with bits missing, and you may know how memory can be affected by however you feel at the time; when we are feeling happy it is easier to recall other happy memories, and when we are feeling sad we tend to recall other unhappy times.

You may also see how strongly association affects memory, so that a single particular sight, sound or smell can remind you of long past events or episodes. And you may see that memory is important for social reasons as well as academic ones.

In fact, even if you know all this, it is still only a tiny part of what memory is doing. Memory plays a major part in the congruity of our personality as we travel through life, and is, paradoxically, largely the same thing as learning! Memory and learning are a circular feedback system; each enhances and improves the performance of the other.

What is the earliest thing you can remember? If you were bonded as a child, you can probably remember incidents from around age two or even earlier. An unbonded child spends all its time in protection mode trying to establish a bond; there is little time or energy for building memory networks when biology still has no safe space to develop in, for all efforts must go to trying to establish that space. Consequently if we began life unbonded, we will not have many early memories of our life before about age seven, especially if we went to school. Most of us come somewhere in between; the average earliest memory for most people from western industrial societies is around age five.

Before conscious memory development, recall is automatic. Without conscious memory, there is cognition but not re-cognition. For example, it's obvious that memory must be needed for learning to walk and talk, yet most people don’t remember learning to do these things.

So how does conscious memory emerge from the type of simple automatic recall that's needed to control the body and speech, into the complex database of remembered life experiences and knowledge that we depend on every day?

The feedback loop between nature (your genes) and nurture (your context) allows epigenetics to constantly modulate the wiring of the brain, and both nature and nurture are necessary for optimal performance from memory. Your genes give you the predisposition for how to remember and learn, but it is life and experience in the context of the real world that show you what to remember and what to learn. This is true for all living creatures.

For example, almost all young animals are naturally alarmed by sudden, loud noises, but they survive and thrive better if they learn WHICH sudden loud noises mean danger and which do not. Any creature who has stored that information in memory is much better equipped for success than one who hasn’t. The information that is encoded and stored from experience improves our awareness, and hence performance, for the whole of our lives.


Total recall

Memory is everything about you. Your awareness of who you are, what you are doing, what is going on around you and how to respond are all largely learned through experience and accessible to you only through memory. Perhaps you are beginning to see how complex a part of your intelligence memory is?

Most people have false ideas about memory, the most popular ones being that amnesia removes our ability to recall our name or identity, that memory notices everything regardless of what we pay attention to, and that memory works like a video camera, making a record that remains unchanged over time.

All these assumptions are wrong.

Many science-fiction stories have played with the idea of someone “having their memory wiped”, and almost all of them get it wrong. If your memory were totally wiped clean, you wouldn’t be able to walk, talk, or feed yourself; let alone think. You wouldn't even know when to go to the bathroom. We rarely see this kind of total memory failure except in extreme senility or serious brain damage, when people can no longer recognise anybody or anything or remember anything for longer than a couple of seconds.

If you consider this, you’ll realise that memory is what makes us aware and our lives meaningful. We recognise things only because we have experienced them before. Memory gives us our coherence, our ability to reason, to feel, to interact. Without memory, we are truly ‘disabled’. We do not even have in integrity of personality.

Looking after your memory, then, is obviously a good idea!

Memory research has fared better than imagination research in the past, but people still tend to make two mistakes when considering how memory works.

First, they think of memory as our ‘conscious knowledge’, but both learning and memory contribute to our personality in unconscious as well as conscious ways. Unconscious aspects of memory affect all the functions of our mind and behavior just as much as conscious memories do, (and conscious memories in fact depend on them.)

Conscious memories could be looked on as “the details”, while unconscious memories provide “the basics” of many of our abilities. Unconscious memory, for example, gives every animal the basic ability to learn how to communicate with sound, but conscious memory enables each to learn the details of a specific language. If the unconscious memory is wiped (say, by a stroke), the conscious mind remembers very well all the details of what it wants to say but the mouth and the muscles cannot remember the basics of how to speak.


The second mistake people make in considering memory is assuming that it only uses one brain network or one brain area, when in fact it uses all of them. Particular networks do particular memory tasks, but not in an isolated fashion; just as neurochemicals all work together to achieve the dynamics of an overall ‘state’, so memory networks integrate together and connect all areas working in synergy.

Likewise there is no ‘individual’ network for storing long term memories. Your memory uses network 3 for many of its complex tasks including learning, but our memory storage and access system spreads throughout the cortex of all networks; all over the surface area of the brain.

There are two sensible reasons for this, the first reason is time -the same practical reason it saves time if you keep a puncture repair kit with a bicycle; not in your bedroom. Memories of things and events are stored right on site of the networks that control the mental tools and functions (processes) the mind is most likely to need to interact with those things and events. This saves processing time and improves performance.

The second reason is space. There's a lot more room on the cortex of the brain, because its all scrunched up like fractal origami. Neuroscientists reckon that if we stretched it all out and pinned it up, it would cover half your front door (but quite why anyone would want to do that is beyond our comprehension.)


different kinds of memory


As you read the sections below, you’ll notice that there are different kinds of memory referred to.

If you look up 'memory' online, you will get almost as confused as if you look up 'imagination'. Terminology is horribly mixed up, with some researchers calling spatial memory procedural memory, some calling procedural memory a type of declarative memory, and a myriad other terms such as implicit memory, nondeclarative memory, explicit memory, photographic memory, episodic memory, visual memory and so on until even the brightest of inquiring minds concludes, “WTF?” It's a real mess.

The bad news is that while these are all genuinely well meaning attempts on the part of researchers to classify memory coherently and some are really pretty good, no overall model that explains the system of memory as a part of the big picture of mind processes currently exists as far as we know, except this one here.

The good news is that this one here is simple, and it works (that is to say, it offers a congruous explanation for the known facts, and enables accurate predictions about the behavior of memory). If you come across a better model, let us know. In the meantime, we'll make our definitions as clear as we can to enable you to translate the terms in other articles. So don’t worry! You don’t have to remember all their names, as long as you are able to understand what different types of memory do and why they are all important.


Memory needs congruous association

 Making memories and increasing knowledge (both as ability and information) are virtually the same thing. The releasing of the chemicals that memory needs is triggered automatically by allowing the natural learning process to unfold. In augmentation of memory we work with this process to provide optimal conditions for growth and development.

We are approaching memory improvement from the bottom up, and supplying networks with the right chemicals to enable memory is obviously important. By changing bad habits of thought and behavior into beneficial ones we can produce the right chemicals to remember things better, store them properly, and recall them faster during and after learning.

Simply, good habits of memory trigger optimal neurotransmitter release giving optimal memory performance, and a lot of good habits are achievable by mental exercise and input control.


The main habit we’re aiming to adopt here to boost memory and predictive skills is that of congruous concept association. Good association aligned with reality is vital for clear perception and reliable memory, as well as a host of other abilities.

It’s obvious that we will remember things better and learn them faster when they make sense in the context of everything that we already know. If our association map is incongruous, new things and ideas tend not to make sense to us unless some other, contradictory associated memories are suppressed or ignored. When we do remember something, it's often wrongly weighted and difficult to recall.

With incongruous association, ideological dilemmas arise (for example –“Why on earth does doing x or y feel so good/bad if it’s supposedly ‘bad’/'good' for me?”) Or we find ourselves feeling ‘in two minds’ (cognitive dissonance) about issues and events, and unable to make clear decisions because we feel as though we can never really see the 'big picture'.

When life does not make congruous sense, most new information brings more confusion rather than more clarity and understanding. If this sounds like you, fear not; we can improve our overall clarity and our powers of decision as well as our memory very quickly by improving congruity of association (and as a cheeky bonus side effect, this improves our confidence and self esteem).

Remember, associations happen like acts of learning: If there are not enough points of similarity between known patterns and the unknown new thing, or if the new contradicts the old, we cannot understand it and our seeking for input continues. When there ARE enough points of similarity between the known and the unknown, we can start to classify each ‘new’ thing by simple ‘same/not same’ criteria and build up a congruous understanding of it, and make accurate and congruous memories.


For You and Against You: Congruity versus Incongruity

The unconscious mind knows that if there are enough points of similarity between two patterns, it can associate one with the other and from their similarities and differences gain a more complex understanding and control of the result. This is what learning IS. It is also what congruity is.

Your unconscious mind is attracted to congruous associations because it knows they are your greatest resource for survival and success. They have developed for its evolutionary needs. Unconsciously, in real life you learned more about physics through congruous association when learning to walk, swim or play ball than you ever did in anybody’s physics class. Congruity is a natural, whole-body knowledge and so comes to you as obvious without direction or interference.

When learning to walk, all you started out with originally was your intent to master an ability, your attention and concentration (with no interference from the conscious mind), and you built your own memory of how to walk from trial and error feedback of which movements took you closer to your goal and which ones didn't; right from the bottom up, you achieved a fine-tuned memory of a procedure and strategy of movement that involves synchronizing some 200 muscles; burning that memory deeper every time you got it right, fine-tuning coordinates every time you got it wrong.

The excitement of getting closer and the exhilaration at getting it right motivated you to further effort (although you may not remember this –most of your memory would have been tied up with processing and reproducing those muscular movements.) You didn’t stand around and predict where each foot should probably land with mathematics; you moved with deliberation because unconscious memory could imagine from experience where it was likely to land much faster than anyone could cognitively work it out. This is pure natural learning about the real world and it gives us knowledge as ability. That's important because knowledge as information can only be built on top of congruous knowledge as ability (experience), and abstract knowledge can only be understood in relation to concrete experience.

If you doubt this, imagine encountering an intelligent spherical alien who lives in deep space and asking her to balance your accounts. How do you explain what the word 'balance' means without doing a concrete demonstration? She has no concept for up or down, right or left, no experience of gravity, scales, weights and measures, tightrope walkers, or all the other concrete things you and I have as concepts for relating the concept of 'balance' to. You would first have to demonstrate the concept of balance itself, before abstracting the concept.

What if she had an incongruous concept of balance? Say, for example, that to her, 'balance' already means “everything has to be kept permanently the same on each side”. In this case, you would have an awful amount of trouble teaching her to balance accounts. It wouldn't make sense. What you are suggesting doesn't have enough points of similarity to her previous experience of the meaning of balance. The percept doesn't match the concept, and learning will be slow and difficult. She may think she's understood it and proceed to change all the figures in your accounts to be exactly the same on each side!

Most of us have some incongruity of association that makes it harder for us to relate to some subjects that we then find difficult to comprehend. For some it's maths or physics, for others it's poetry and art, for some spirituality, for others building, languages or navigation. With congruous association we are able to use the same inner model to learn any subject, but if association is incongruous we are unable to imagine how some subjects 'fit in' with our familiar concepts of reality and these areas are blocked. Sometimes we cannot even imagine what on earth anyone would want to learn them for, as they can be so meaningless to us.

We communicate abstract ideas in metaphor that relates directly back to concrete experience in the real world. You'll learn more about that in tutorial 10; for now just remember that conscious memory and conscious knowledge always rely on unconscious memory and unconscious knowledge.

Unconscious knowledge is at once a child’s and a shaman’s knowledge of the world; innate, primal, automatically self-improving and ultimately more useful than any other kind of knowledge because it is the memory of knowledge-as-ability; the knowledge that gives us the ability to interact with the world and apply beneficial behavior that yields beneficial results (such as the ability to balance when learning to walk). We KNOW about balance; in a very intimate, personal experiential way, and we know what happens when we lose it. For that reason, we can understand the abstract concepts of 'emotional balance', 'a balanced personality', 'unbalanced moods', weights and scales, and 'balancing your accounts'. Of course those concepts come with different details, but the basic underlying principles remain the same -going too far one way or the other way takes things out of balance, and we have to practise retaining balance when pushed in either direction.

Only when imagination has enough experience of the concrete reality of balance can it accurately predict how the same concept can be applied abstractly. There is no complex reason for this; it is a simple matter of brain networks being unable to form in the first place without sensorimotor experience. It must be obvious that we have to do those activities which make a network grow before we can do those activities which use it, but you may be surprised at how many students take a while to understand this.

Practicing the concrete behavioral skills that develop N1, 2 & 3 lays the foundation (builds the hardware and stores the data) that N4, 5 & 6 need later for abstract procedural skills.

N1 has the same relationship to N5 as N2 has to N4. The rear networks deal with concrete concepts and the frontal networks deal with abstract concepts.

Because N2 supports N4 in this way, damage to it or the connections between it and N3 can result in problems for N4, especially in coordination of timing and accuracy of movements, and making long-term changes (learning) to improve these skills [11].

It may also occur to you that this is another explanation for why biology tries to (and why we need to) develop networks in a certain order.

This is the true meaning of ‘intuitive’ knowledge; not “a funny feeling something might be going on”. The whole of life should make the same beautiful kind of automatic sense to us; our core associations with reality as we know it applying on any level to show us “the story”; the essence of a situation, place, person, pattern or thing, and predict what to do next. Development should be a simple task of making sure we play with and practise beneficial 'stories', and learning how to direct any deleterious ones into more beneficial possibilities by using our creativity.

Solving problems or learning new things becomes a straightforward jigsaw-like challenge of putting the right pieces (of behavior) into place in the right order at the right time. That's biology's recipe for a thriving organism.

For You

On your side in the endeavor to build associations expedient to memory and coherent perception is the whole of biology. Natural association is universal across cultures, times and places (and even many species, because the laws of physics and chemistry hold throughout.)

Wiring up Network 3’s association maps densely is crucial, not because they cannot be developed later (as used to be believed) but because their degree of development becomes the foundation for the whole of the rest of our memory and cognition.

All of our later executive skills are developed by making new memories from adjustments of existing associations, because although learning is a process that creates new memories, making new memories is dependent on past association too. We therefore need a densely connected database of congruous concepts to compare all of our experience to and make sensible decisions about how to interact with the world.

As you go through this tutorial and learn more, start to get into the habit of thinking of things in terms of their core associations. It’s a good game, a good memory exercise, and it makes a lot of other things easier later on.

Against You

Working against you are false associations that lead to memory and learning problems, but no worries! –We can get rid of false associations very easily just by developing our awareness of the true ones. For example, in my youth we were taught that a fat baby means a wealthy family and better health, and that god would make us go blind if we put our hands down our pants. We dutifully made those false associations but had no trouble dropping them when evidence to the contrary was in front of our nose.

Anxiety about our own animal nature and about nature itself will also get in our way. Whether we like it or not, unconscious association modulates everything we do, and is deeply connected with essential animal behaviors and humanity's early primal awareness of the world.

Also, anxiety about our own ability to make decisions or judge things will hold us back. This problem is usually based on past wrong input -if we're repeatedly taught incongruous associations, or told that things which don't make sense are correct, or that things which do make sense are wrong. Having your own likes/dislikes ignored in early years can also cause anxiety about decision-making.

! Snapback warning: Those with sparse or unbalanced rear nets and/or problems with N4 may have difficulty coming to terms with unconscious learning (and often, coming to terms with the fact that any of their mind is unconscious at all).

If you find yourself struggling with anxiety when learning congruous association, remind yourself that what you are studying here is the mind's inner model of reality; not reality itself (which sciences such as physics, chemistry, biology and geology study). The unconscious mind doesn't use words like 'energy' or 'time' in the same way our conscious minds do in relation to academic reality. Those concepts are way too complex for the unconscious to grasp, and we don't understand them until we develop our frontal networks. Life experience starts right away, years before we have the equipment to understand scientific terminology, so for working out what is going on in the meantime, the unconscious mind uses simple concepts related to personal experience and evolutionary experience because that is all it can do (apart from beat your heart and keep you breathing and do all that hormonal stuff without you having to bother thinking consciously about it.)

Science is our conscious, abstract explanation for phenomena the unconscious knows through experience but cannot explain, because it cannot talk -it doesn't think in words, it thinks in images.




Imagine a real live tiger!

...Did you imagine a large one or a small one? What was it doing? Where was it?

Now consider WHY it was anywhere doing anything. We never asked for any context; your unconscious mind made that up all by itself. It pulled out the nearest associations with 'tiger' and filled in the missing information around the tiger. What it pulled out depends on your association, but that's a simple demonstration of how the unconscious composes images.

Now, if a tiger had eaten one of your friends recently, or if you worked in a zoo, you're going to have very different associations than if you just look at tigers occasionally on wildlife shows. This is environmental conditioning, we are all susceptible to it up to the point we learn about input control. So the details of your tiger associations will depend on your own personal experience.

Environmental conditioning is fine when it comes from the natural environment that we are meant to be functioning in symbiosis with, but students often ask about social conditioning, and how likely they are to be affected by it.

"Conditioning" is one of those terms that gets bandied about in psychology in various contexts; all you need to remember for NH is that classical conditioning involves automatic or reflexive responses, (involuntary behavior); and operant conditioning deals with the modification of voluntary behavior (operant behavior). Classical conditioning uses coincidental input (such as a bell ringing and dinner arriving) to exploit the fact that 'cells that fire together wire together' and form an association. Operant conditioning uses punishment and reward (such as a carrot or a stick) to coerce changes of behavior; the two things that don’t motivate people very well -- the promise of rewards and the threat of punishment, because both are forms of coercion. (The trick to real motivation is to know the intrinsic reward in what you're doing and to enjoy it).

When people speak of 'social conditioning' or indoctrination, they are usually referring to operant conditioning because they are not usually aware that often both are taking place (involuntary chemical changes occur in sync with voluntary behavioral ones).

Your susceptibility to conditioning depends on both your initial and current rate of development and your adeptness at input control.

“Conditioning” is just another way of saying “establishing habits”, and the habits we establish depend partly on memory, partly on feedback from our surroundings in the here and now and partly on feedback from our own imagination (since these furnish perception).

For example, if you are slapped every time you pick your nose or belch up wind, two outcome possibilities result:

If you are NOT sufficiently developed to achieve an overview and do it in secret, you’ll be conditioned to get out of the habit of doing it altogether (and pay the price of a blocked nose and flatulence) until you develop further.

If you ARE sufficiently developed to see the ‘big picture’, you’ll just get out of the habit of doing it in front of people who might slap you; and do it in private or out with your mates.

The more aware and intelligent you are, the more you are able to work around unhealthy coercion and directives that don't make sense, such as 'masturbation is evil', but unfortunately this is often at the cost of having to deceive dumb people. This in itself can be very stressful, especially if you are stuck in a situation where you have to live with them. The same rules hold with being punished for drinking, smoking, swearing, drugs, sex, technology use, mock fighting, being homosexual or dancing on the sabbath. By the age of sixteen, many intelligent people are accustomed to living two lives. In one, Mr Anderson is a software engineer for a respectable company...and so on.

Susceptibility to conditioning is that simple. Coercion always results in either damage or deceit, and deceit can make us feel guilty until we start to see the reality of our extraordinary situation, grow some courage, and break free from other people's anxious nonsense.


Your ability to achieve a sane overview depends on the development of your frontal networks, which is why young children or those with sparse connections at the ‘front end’ are more gullible, easily fooled and susceptible to conditioning than those with well developed frontal nets. Rearloaders want to believe in things that don't exist, and Frontloaders want to disbelieve in things that do, just as urgently.

We have ALL been conditioned to some extent to behave like anxious idiots in certain circumstances and believe a load of nonsense, simply because we were raised in a society replete with anxious people who themselves believe a load of nonsense. IT DOESN'T MATTER. The fastest (and the only permanent) way to get rid of the bad habits is to ignore them and make energetic progress in the good ones. Trust your intelligence, show it the best evidence about reality that you can, and bad habits WILL go away just by themselves.


Let's do a quick short memory test to see strengths and weaknesses (then we don't have to waste any time exercising parts that are well developed already).



Quick memory check: See which of the following you find easiest and hardest:


Write down as many people’s names beginning with the letter A as you can remember in five minutes.

Make a list of all the people you can remember knowing when you were ten years old. This will include relatives, friends, and acquaintances, as well as strangers whose names you knew.

Try to remember whom you last spoke to on the phone, whom you last sent a postal letter to, and where your last email was sent. Can you remember the ones before that?


These are testing (in order) your working memory (N6), eidetic memory (N3), and declarative memory(N5). Which did you find easiest?

To test your procedural (N4) and spatial (N2) memory:


Without using any diagrams, write down instructions for someone to do ONE of the following: (a)change a tire (b) change a baby (c) change a printer cartridge.

Draw from memory a map of the way to your nearest Post Office for a person travelling on foot. Try and keep it close to scale, and put in the directions –N/S/E/W. Check it against a real map –how close were your estimates?


Before we continue, write down in your captain's log which were the easiest memory tasks in the exercises above, because later you can use strong areas to help improve weaker areas.





Neuroanatomy of Memory - Structure and Function

Memory in networks 1 & 2


(square brackets [ ] indicate references which may be found at the end).

Networks 1 & 2 process sensorimotor and spatial memory. [1] These memories are designed to enable basic tasks, like controlling vital functions, locomotion, facial expression, place, person and object recognition, balance, hand-eye coordination and so on.

Memory in N1 and N2 is largely unconscious. Associations develop as a result of concrete experience as congruous concepts based on our hard-wired core concepts, and they don’t take up conscious awareness simply because they don’t need to. Sensorimotor/spatial skills like walking, climbing, eating, dancing and swimming can all be learned entirely without conscious thought, and so can territory-mapping (knowing what sort of thing happens where in familiar territory.)

This unconscious memory is sometimes called “muscle memory” or “skill memory”, because it 'feels' as though our bodies or hands just 'know how to do it', and it’s because of different individual experiences in making this memory that we all have individual ways of moving, walking, talking and thinking. Body language, the way you smile, shake hands, bow or wave, your posture, the sound of your voice, are all dependent on habits –the habits of your sensorimotor and spatial memory.

These and many other aspects of our behavior are expressed so automatically they may seem unchangeable, or believed to be innate. But we should not jump to such conclusions, which forget the roles of plasticity and epigenetics, and the quality and frequency of input that was necessary for setting up those habits in the first place and maintaining them. Unconscious memory and unconscious processing can both be brought into conscious awareness and improved, and we'll look at how that happens later.


sensorimotor memory

Each core concept relates to different kinds of input, and each network recognizes its 'own' kind of input. Network 1 deals with input that associates with its core concept; matter.

Definitions: By 'sensorimotor memory', we mean how you remember and recognize what stuff is because of its material properties; for example because of what it feels like, tastes like, what things are hot or cold, sharp or blunt, hard or soft, smooth or hairy, sweet or sour. Their common abstracted property is that they are material and physical; they concern immediately experienced properties of matter. What we mean by 'concrete' is the 'hardware' of reality as opposed to abstract software (such as math or language systems or thought processes, which are still real but have no material presence).

This sort of memory goes a long way towards enabling us to identify what many things are, but by no means all the way. Remember, each network stores only parts of memories, and each uploads its bits when N3 requests them via association and re-members them (in permanent storage memories are literally dismembered -their concepts remain separate until they are associated again). Thus we can forget one or more aspects of a memory if one or more association links fail; this is one reason why memory is not totally reilable and also why individual aspects of memories can be wiped without losing the rest.

Memories are stored in N1 as physical response patterns of its cells to all the textures, tastes and tactile experiences we have ever encountered in our lives.

Spatial memory

Definitions: By 'spatial memory', we mean the memories of contexts, places, spaces, simple behaviors (movements) and backgrounds, and how to recognize and perform basic behaviors. The way you find your way around your house or local neighborhood relies on spatial memory, and so does knowing what happens where.

Network 2 recognizes and memorizes contextual spatial concepts. Their common abstracted concrete property is space. Behavior and events are motion in space, and places and objects are things in space. Together these form the context of all our experience.

In the database here are selections of cellular movement patterns, this time not associated with material objects but associated with our proximal responses in different contexts, places and behaviors. Network 2 memorizes audio as well as visuals, allowing imagination to compare cellular response patterns of incoming sights and sounds against previously experienced responses in the memory database.

This is NOT the same as procedural memory (although a lot of studies will label it thus). The difference is, procedural skills and memory require co-ordination between abstract mental and concrete fine motor control. For example, pressing the keys of a piano is a sensorimotor/spatial skill, but playing the piano with a band or an orchestra, or writing a song and working it out on piano -that's procedural and it needs N4. Procedures are timed complex behaviors that apply rules to bring order out of chaos. Operating a stone age hand axe requires N2, but building a hut, operating a complex machine or performing in synchrony with others requires N4.





Memory in N1&2


Structure and function


The part of the brain responsible for most long term sensorimotor and spatial memory in N1&2 is the cerebellum. The cerebellum is in the bottom back part of the brain and looks a bit like a lump of cauliflower. It contributes to sensorimotor and spatial memory in our control of movement in sensorimotor tasks that use the body as a tool, such as walking, throwing and catching, cleaning our teeth, riding a bike, dancing, swimming, driving a car, and all the many basic movements that we must make every day.

The cerebellum is also involved in posture and balance (both of which are modified by experience and contribute to spatial memory), body movements, balance, depth perception and finding our way around in the dark. (In darkness, hippocampal place cells fire at a lower rate, so N3 has to rely more on the cerebellar neurons involved in self-motion cues to remember where it's been and work out where it's going).[7]

Damage to this area prevents easy learning of sensorimotor and spatial skills and through associated research it has more recently been linked to a role in automating the unconscious process used when learning such skills [10].

Studies have shown reduced connections from the cerebellum to the primary motor area with practice as skills become automatic, it is presumed because of a decreased need for error correction from the cerebellum. The cerebellum passes the memories it processes to the basal ganglia in N3, which is currently the most likely candidate for long term storage of automatic unconscious memory.


Occipital lobe

The occipital cortex stores long term sensorimotor & spatial memory. The occipital lobe is located in the rearmost part of the skull directly above the cerebellum.This lobe is shared by several networks, as the main function of the occipital lobe is that of vision.

Retinal sensors send signals through the optic tract to the primary visual cortex, where it is organized and sent down one of two possible pathways; the ventral (N1) stream is responsible for object representation and recognition and is also commonly known as the "what" stream. The dorsal (N2) stream is responsible for guiding our movements in behaviors and recognizing where objects are in space, commonly known as the "where" or "how" stream [12].

Two other parts of N 1 & 2 are important for the formation of memory. They are the brain stem and the hypothalamus. They are important because they modulate our hormonal state, affecting the weighting of memories by sending feedback to the amygdala in N3. The brain stem, which flanks the cerebellum all the way up into the centre of the brain, produces most of the neurotransmitters we need for many processes, including dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine. We looked at the hypothalamus in Tutorial 2, so you'll remember that it's the bridge (user interface) between the brain and the body for hormonal control and chemical feedback.


Memory in N3

N3 stores long term eidetic memory. By 'eidetic' memory we mean memories of whole events or episodes in graphic format.

In networks 1 & 2 if a cell is firing, the pattern of its internal behavior will be recorded. That's memory on a cellular level. Memory is automatic (unconscious) in rear networks so basic processes can do all the work. By ‘basic’ we mean that cells can respond automatically to relevant signals to carry out the cellular processes triggered by those signals with very little intermediary software; processes like recording their own responses in memory, comparing their responses to others in the database, picking out and responding to emergency patterns, tagging frequent patterns for permanent memory, and forwarding data to network 3.

Together, the components of N3 form one of the two main processing hubs in the brain. Network 3 provides the bridge between unconscious and conscious memory, essentially because it provides a bridge (user interface) between mind and brain.

This is where code is given meaning; where graphic core concepts held in memory are used to associate and translate information between mechanical physical motion and abstract internal thoughts and ideas.

Core concepts are universal. Recent research (Oct, 2011) has shown that different individuals' brains use the same, common neural code to recognize complex visual images.

The study demonstrates that objects are similarly represented across different brains, allowing for reliable classification of one person's brain activity based on another's. [72]

All individuals use a common code for visual recognition, making it possible to identify specific patterns of brain activity for a wide range of visual images that are the same in all brains.

As a result of their research, the team showed that a pattern of brain activity in one individual can be decoded by finding the picture or movie that evoked the same pattern in other individuals.[72]

N3 is also where memory is weighted according to importance and tagged for eventual location, should it become long term. N3 holds permament memories of odors, pheromones, emotional weightings, and associations of modes of input that are indicative of dangers or benefits.


Q: How many modes of input do you think are indicative of danger? Try to work this out for yourself.



...Don't automatically jump into thinking of a long list of 'dangerous things' to humans; they are only the details. Go back to basics.

...Think about the common properties of all things dangerous to biology, and abstract those common properties.

...ALL things dangerous to biology either cause some kind of sensory overload or some kind of sensory deprivation...so...

...Think about how many causes of problems for intelligence there are. We don't mean the symptoms of problems; we mean the underlying causes.

...If you're thinking, 'Anxiety!' or 'Incongruity!', you are getting there; they certainly do pull us out of the green zone, but think about what causes both of these. Keep thinking backwards to the source of the problem...

...Think about what it always comes down to; in the 'when things go wrong' section...

...so, how many modes of input are indicative of danger?...


A: The answer is two. (If you don't understand the answer, RTFQ. How do you think you got distracted from remembering the question?)

As far as N3 is concerned, there are only two modes of input that are indicative of danger: not enough input or wrong input.

Basically any event that takes us out of the 'green zone' for growth & development does so because of one or both of these factors; not enough of the right input, or too much of the wrong input. Once you understand this, looking after your mind becomes a lot easier. You only ever have two things to watch out for, and their warning signals are boredom and confusion.

If input density falls below or rises above certain values, outside the healthy growth/development zone, protection mode is engaged because the unconscious mind imagines emergency responses may be necessary. That's all N3 'knows'; that it MUST enable emergency responses via engaging protection mode whenever there is wrong input or lack of input.

Hyperdensity of input (wrong input) indicates sensory overload, and hypodensity of input (no input) indicates sensory deprivation. Biology knows that either is deadly unless addressed. So all associations with such input modes are stored locally for expediency of response.

All memories stored in N3 are kept in eidetic (graphic imagery) format, and all other memories are translated into this format when passing through N3 and being associated with meaning.

Remember your tiger? Black and orange stripes are automatically unconsciously associated with a danger signal. When your ancestors were walking through the jungle, they did not pick up black and orange striped things. They had learned that to do so could result in a fatal sensory overload called being eaten, so those who got 'that alarmed feeling' when they saw signa of one were much more likely to survive.

Consequently, here for their descendents in the 21st century, N3 still has a graphic of black and orange stripes with a big “NO!!!” associated with it, closely followed by the associated concept “run your ass off”; and the weighting signal to flood your body with hormones that can coordinate brain and body for extreme responses in less than a couple of seconds.

The graphic concept of black and orange stripes is an archetype; that is to say, am image that has an effect on the unconscious mind and a simultaneous complementary effect on the physical body, long before its recognized by the conscious mind. We'll be studying archetypes more closely in tutorial 10.

structure and function


the parietal lobe

Sits on top of the occipital lobe, at the rear of the brain.

The parietal lobe assists with verbal and visual short term memory and damage to the supramarginal gyrus causes short term memory loss [17].

The parietal lobe and medial temporal lobes may well be the repository for RAM -a bundle of random memories that we've either used recently (and so might need again soon) and new memories that we haven't had time to fully process yet, all thrown together in temporary storage. We can hack new memories much more easily while they're still in RAM (before they are defragged and permanently stored). Activity in the posterior parietal cortex is tightly correlated with the limited amount of scene information that can be stored in visual short-term memory [18].

The lateral intraparietal area is also involved in visual categorisation (a process previously though to be exclusive to N6). [79]


medial temporal lobes

Functional MRI (fMRI) can identify distinct activations within the MTL. The medial temporal lobes house the outside arms of the hippo, which are essential for memory function - particularly the transference from short to long term memory and control of sensorimotor/spatial memory and behavior. Damage to this area typically results in anterograde amnesia.

There is evidence that older memories do not rely on the medial temporal lobes, whereas more recent long-term memories do. In consolidation, interactions between the medial temporal lobes/hippo and various lateral cortical regions are thought to store permament memories outside the medial temporal lobes by slowly forming direct links between the neuronal representations of coincidental input [9]

Both temporal lobes process aspects of audio and visual input. Long term auditory memory has been found to be stored in the primary auditory cortex (no surprise there then), contralateral to the ear of distal stimulus presentation. [14]

Adjacent areas in the superior, posterior and lateral parts of the temporal lobes (TL) are involved in higher-level auditory processing. In humans this includes speech. The logical meanings and grammar of speech are processed in the left TL and the metaphoric meanings and sound of words are processed in the right TL. This is why, with left temporal stroke damage, patients who cannot speak can still remember how to sing and swear.

A wealth of mirror neurons resides in this area [80] and it is clear the MTLs play a large part in image generation, empathy and modeling.


The thalamus is the central relay station for information processing, the 'information highway' at the very center of N3. Subjects with thalamic damage demonstrate deficits on measures of attention, psychomotor speed and unconscious visuomotor sequence learning. [2]

Anterograde amnesia (loss of abiity to make new memories) can result from damage to the thalamus and the surrounding networks; new information is processed normally but never gets encoded and stored, since the connections between hippocampus and cortex (through the thalamus) are disrupted.

Two pioneers [3] in research on the thalamus examined the close two-way relationships between thalamus and cerebral cortex and looked at the distinctive functions of the links between the thalamus and the rest of the brain. Countering the dominant approach —which does not recognize that all neocortical areas receive important inputs from the thalamus and send outputs to lower motor centers—they argue for a reappraisal of the way we think about the cortex and its interactions with the rest of the brain.

We can only heartily agree. Researchers looking at the functions of Nitric Oxide discovered how the thalamus functions to 'boot up' the brain and provide for central processing and control of all impulses going to and from the cortex. They describe its function as an operating system, but from the description it actually seems closer to the functions of a kernel and an essential part of the brain's CPU. [4]


basal ganglia ('BGs')

We'll tell you two things about the basal ganglia: One, they're not basal, and two, they're not ganglia.

Confused? So were we! But it's true; the BGs are not at the base of the brain, they are mostly medial/frontal in position, and they're really not ganglia; they're nuclei.

Perhaps you are beginning to understand why neuroscience students get confused! Unfortunately, the term 'basal ganglia' is also another one interpreted in the mainstream in various ways. Some researchers include virtually the whole of N3 in the basal ganglia, some include parts of N3, N6 and N2. It looks like way back somewhen, someone found a selection of little lumpy brain areas that nobody really understood (at that time) very well, and lumped them all together and called that area 'the basal ganglia', which is probably pretty much what it looked like down an ordinary microscope. Some call the same areas the telencephalon.

The BGs are in fact tiny nuclei, most of which cluster around the back end of the forebrain, with several protuberances wrapping around the hippo/amy/thalamus:


The main components of the umbrella term “basal ganglia” are the striatum (also called neostriatum) composed of caudate and putamen, globus pallidus and (oddly) substantia nigra and the subthalamic nucleus. [13]

The BGs are responsible for so many tasks in processing and memory that we won't be covering them here but in advanced tutorials. For now, just get used to where they are and remember that all of them send input to N3.


The amygdala’s role in memory

The amy's main role in memory is modulating by weighting the memories that are being constructed in the hippo & thalamus.

Studies spanning several decades have shown us the amy’s role in the emotional ‘weighting’ of memory. It gets feedback about what’s going on both directly from the body and via the hypothalamus (that sits very close to it in the brain) and it also responds to neurotransmitters in the rest of the brain, so at any given time the amy can sample overall neurochemistry and associate it with input. If overall chemistry is anxiety, all input seems more dangerous than it really is.


Its role in memory involves deciding what is relevant to your wellbeing and what doesn't matter. It decides how much events matter by looking at both input density and feedback from whatever sort of hormonal and neurochemical responses they cause.

The amy puts an ‘importance weighting’ on events that are beneficial or harmful,[29] by attaching a record of the pattern of body chemistry associated with the event (which we experience as emotion) via feedback coming in from the hypothalamus and other areas [16].

The resolution of a whole memory depends on its bit density, and each known concept is one bit of meaning. High-density memories contain more information, including that of the associated emotions. The process of weighting strengthens the memories being made during an event by increasing their 'bit density' (or resolution, if you like). Strongly weighted memories are more easily retrieved, last longer, and their details are clearer and more vivid.

You'll remember we have two amygdalae. Current research is showing that the one on the left (usually, but not always) deals with detecting of, and weighting memories for, beneficial events, and the one on the right (usually) looks for and weights deleterious events. (There is some variety in this in the same way that some people are right- or left-handed, and it’s useful to remember that when you start exploring NMS and TMS.)

The amy is not the only part of N3 that is capable of altering weighting density, but it is the main area for weighting danger/benefit associations and it is the amy that often gets hacked in treating PTSD, as certain drugs can remove the weighting 'tag' whilst leaving other aspects of a memory intact [8].


The hippocampus’ role in memory

The hippo is really the star of the memory show. Interacting with other parts of N3, it enables all long term memory. It makes and maintains the inner model (cognitive maps) that all input and memories are compared against for processing, it performs all main memory processes including the making of new memories in learning, encoding (turning short term memories into long term ones), and consolidation (moving them from short term storage to their permanent destination), and it facilitates recall & reconsolidation.[63] Overall, what it does best (with the help of the thalamus) is association. Wow. That’s a hell of a job description.

The hippocampus’ right side is more oriented towards responding to N2's spatial aspects, whereas the left side is associated with N1's concrete material information. Also, there is evidence that experience in building extensive mental maps in the inner model can increase the volume of one’s hippocampus [15].

It's not possible to form new eidetic (graphic episodic) memories without the hippo.

Glial cells; the cells that support neurons, also modulate their activity in learning and memory.[55]


Memory in N4 & N5

Procedural memory (sometimes confused with spatial memory or implicit memory)

By procedural memory we mean memories of abstract complex behaviors as procedures, and memories of skills involving 'feedforward' synthesis; such as programming a computer, writing a poem, composing a symphony or putting together enough data and working out the maths to find the proof for a theory. Procedural memory is knowing how as opposed to knowing what. It remembers complex abstract procedural concepts, such as, composing, engineering, cooperating, constructing, and understanding things like hyperbolic geometry.


Declarative memory (sometimes called semantic memory or explicit memory)

By declarative memory we mean the ability to store and recall information that can be 'declared' (spoken or written). To remember how to perform an experiment we need procedural memory, but to explain that experiment to someone else or to make a written record, we need declarative memory. Declarative memories are memories of abstract facts about things, and memories of skills involving feedback analysis; such as logic, quantity surveying, hacking complex security systems, assessment, administration, resource management or reductionistic experimentation.

Structure & function

The dorsolateral striatum is associated with the acquisition of procedural habits and is the main neuronal cell nucleus linked to procedural memory.

Two parallel information processing pathways diverge from the striatum, both acting in opposition to each other in the control of movement, and they allow for association with other needed functional structures [19]. One pathway is direct while the other is indirect and both pathways work together to allow for a functional neural feedback loop.

Many looping circuits connect back at the striatum from other areas of the brain; including those from the medial temporal cortex and the ventral striatum (N3).

Permanent storage of procedural memories occurs in the right frontal cortex (N4). The main looping circuit involved in the motor skill part of procedural memory is usually called the cortex-basal ganglia-thalamus-cortex loop [20].

Damage to the right side (N4) cortex causes memory problems with identifying geometric shapes, patterns, figures and faces, general perception and problem solving skills [22].

Permanent storage of declarative memories occurs in the left ventrolateral cortex (VLPFC)(N5). Many studies indicate that broad or abstract concepts, such as nouns like "mammal", are represented towards the front (rostral) regions of the cortex. In contrast, more specific or tangible concepts, such as nouns like "rat", are represented caudally (towards the rear) in N1. [21]

Damage to the left side (N5) cortex can lead to language memory discrepancies, i.e. difficulty in properly recalling letters, numbers and words, and causes general language problems [22]. Recent TMS studies that have targeted disruption of a VLPFC further indicate that this region is necessary for intact semantic processing of stimuli [23]

Memory in N6


The prefrontal cortex serves our ability to remember what's going on in the here and now; in order to coordinate behavior, plan, strategise, predict and interact.

N6 helps us select out memories that are most relevant to each given occasion. It can coordinate various types of information into a coherent whole. For example, the knowledge of where information came from must be put together with the information itself, into a single memory representation (this is called source monitoring.) In poor memory such information can become separated, such as when we recall something but cannot remember where or when it took place; (this is referred to as a source monitoring error) [24]. The frontal lobes are also involved in the ability to remember what we need to do in the future and when we need to do it; this is sometimes called prospective memory and it uses both working memory and the RAM in N3 [25].


Working memory

structure & function

Research identifies the frontal cortex and anterior cingulate gyrus (N6) are essential for working memory, but these work in conjunction with the parietal cortex and the basal ganglia (N3).

There is evidence from brain-imaging studies that prefrontal cortex shows sustained activity during the delay period of visual working memory tasks, indicating that this cortex maintains online representations of stimuli after they are removed from view. There is also evidence for domain specificity within frontal cortex based on the type of information, with object working memory mediated by more ventral (towards the front) frontal regions and spatial working memory mediated by more dorsal (towards the back) frontal regions [26].


There are three separate prefrontal regions and processes associated with working memory in humans.

(1) a `phonological loop' for maintaining auditory & verbal information; (2) a `visuospatial sketch pad' for maintaining information about the visual properties of objects and about spatial locations; and (3) a `central executive' for attentional control and for coordinating the manipulation and use of information held in both the phonological loop and the sketch pad.

Thus, the concept of working memory encompasses both the informational content of our consciousness (knowledge as ability and knowledge as information) and the wilful use and manipulation of that information.

Three regions have been identified in studies as being associated with monitoring and/or manipulation; Brodmann areas 6/8 in the Premotor cortex and Supplementary Motor Cortex (includes Frontal eye fields); the Anterior Cingulate, and Brodmann areas 9/46 in the Dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex. The left PFC (adjacent to N5) dominates for analysis-based object representations, and the right (adjacent to N4) for synthesis-based (image-based) object representations. [27]

The regions activated in object working-memory tasks seem similar to the regions of prefrontal cortex activated in long-term memory tasks, since working memory can also temporarily hold items from LT memory this is not surprising.





Everywhere and Nowhere


It's important to understand that individual memories are not stored as 'things' or whole 'episodes'. While it's possible to look at brain structure in relation to memory function, categorization and processing, We cannot do so with individual memories. Trying to analyse the brain to see where individual long term memories live is a bit like sawing a calculator in half to see where the numbers live; it may be fun but it's not going to lead to any clues about how the memory process works.

Memories are conglomerates of patterns rather than individual patterns, and most memories have parts stored in multiple networks. That's why we can only describe types of memory and where they are stored, rather than the location of whole memories, because there isn't one.

One reason it has taken researchers so long to figure this out is the nature of recall, which by association reassembles any memory from just one cue -like a magic box of lego that, when you picked up one brick of a model, automatically made all the other bricks jump into place.

In the same way, experimenters would find what they thought was the location of a whole memory, say, triggered when exploring the olfactory cortex, and then discover that all they had really discovered was the memory of a smell. Triggering the smell memory just brought all the other associated memories from all the other networks up on the screen as well. Memories started looking like they could be in two or three places at once, in fact, we now know bits of them could be in dozens.

Memory does have a physiological presence, however. The individual concepts that memories are assembled from ARE stored permanently. But the concepts are not just used for memory; they are there for perception and prediction as well. The mind tends to store data with multitasking as a priority, because it lives in a reality of finite space with limited time, and multitasking is constant for intelligence, even in sleep.


Here’s a model of where we store different parts of long term memories:



From the last tutorial you'll recall that memory database locations are made of cells, and their associations are made by N3 prompting the growth of connections between cells. Wherever the brain has bridges between cells, the mind has bridges (associations) between concepts.

Building new bridges is what memory and learning are about, and connections are built by the mind using the brain, just like the brain uses the body to build real bridges in the real world. Links between associated concepts are what enable re-membering (recall) to form the conglomerate of concepts that is a memory, and recognition of a percept as relating to a concept in perception.

Imagination is the process that calls and presents the relevant displays for both functions (and also for prediction, as we'll see later).

The concrete physiological inks between neurons are representations of the abstract associations between concepts. We cannot have the latter without the former.

This is the way we make sense of the world and our own experience, by understanding how things relate together into a congruous whole and embodying that understanding in the very design of our neural architecture.

Now perhaps you are starting to understand the relationships between these processes; imagination, perception, learning and memory, more deeply. They are embodied; represented not merely digitally by 'software' graphic code but analogically in the very architecture of cellular integrity. All that each cell ‘remembers’ is its own movements (responses to the perceived environment outside the cell). That pattern of responses repeated is the basis of memory, because if the cells make the same movements they made when the event was first experienced, what we receive is a reproduced version of the same body-state, complete with neurochemistry, emotional experience, inner images and responses. And that's a memory.

You'll also be starting to see more reasons why congruous association is so important; why without it we cannot perceive clearly or store all parts of memories coherently in the first place, and moreover on recall why without associative congruity some bits of memories may be missing, changed or just plain false!

A good example of incongruity of association can be seen in all regimes and experiments wherever members of the public unthinkingly obey orders to physically harm strangers in response to the dictates of 'professionals' or 'authorities'.

The incongruity here is the untruth that it's okay to do something insane when the person ordering you to do it is believed 'more important to obey' than your own intelligence or 'knows what is right' in some mystical way more accurately than you do.

It IS okay to do what someone else tells us if their specific expertise in a given situation outreaches ours, such as landing a plane under radio guidance if the pilot passes out. We have a great ability to adapt to unquestionably obey the most competent person in any given situation, even if we don't understand why we have to do x, y or z; and that's in favor of our survival. But a lot of us have been conditioned to associate 'social status', 'appearance', or 'money' with competence, and this is where the incongruity of association lies. A lot of us have also been conditioned to expect punishment if we don't do as we are told, and we have to lose these false associations in order to think clearly.

While the conscious mind can be cracked or shut down through anxiety and lack of self esteem, and tricked into accepting this false concept, the unconscious mind knows very well that harming strangers isn't okay. This is an example of an ideological dilemma. One or the other belief has to be suppressed in order for life to make sense, and many people crash at this point and can be simply controlled through anxiety like an automaton.

Intelligence agencies call this 'the breaking point' in torture for extracting information or inserting indoctrination. Schools call it educating a child to be well behaved. Similar techniques are used in both instances (sensory deprivation and sensory overload, nutrition and sleep deprivation, restriction of movement, repetition of information, possibly drugs, and the overhanging random threat of getting beaten up in the playground).

Biology prioritizes making strong allies and nurturing mental and physical health, and harming strangers breaks both these requirements, so to the unconscious mind it is very stupid and dangerous behavior. We know this unconsciously, but life only makes sense and we can only make the right healthy responses when our minds can synchronize the same truth consciously as well as unconsciously. The conscious mind must agree with and provide evidence for what the unconscious knows is true, and our behavior must follow accordingly, or anxiety will result because biology knows that harm is being done. This is congruous association in a nutshell.

If you are already thinking, "Well I wouldn't obey orders to harm strangers from some pompous dude in a white coat", it is fair to remind you that neurohackers at this level do tend to have some advantages with regard to this sort of coercion as opposed to 'most people'.

Firstly, we usually have enough self esteem to resent being treated like idiots, secondly we are aware of the power of deception and have developed some clear cut natural morality and strong enough integrity to avoid capitulating under pressure. Thirdly, because of what we know, we are unlikely to be overawed by the idea of 'professionals', and if some pompous dude in a white coat asked your average NH student to harm an innocent stranger for the benefits of research their reply would be along the lines of, “Blow it out your ass”.

The ability to resist coercion is tremendously underrated; many who have it don't realise that this simple exercise of free will; the ability to say, 'no way' to something dodgy, is something that most people don't have and can't do, and we should appreciate the results of our endeavors and rejoice in the fact that we have this freedom and the integrity not be duped or scared into doing dodgy things, because it is a hallmark of a free mind. If everyone had even this small amount of freedom of thought, humanity would live in much more peaceful, progressive and productive ways, with the confidence and self esteem that comes with such personal integrity.

Personal integrity doesn't mean we should stand up in a fascist rally and say, fuck you Herr Hitler, I'm Jewish so blow it out your ass, or whatever; that wouldn't be too intelligent either! In circumstances of extreme danger involving coercion we must escape doing dodgy things by more devious means, necessity being the motherf***** of invention. We must use camoflage and deception to survive and thrive.

Nor should we ever feel guilty about deceiving those who would otherwise (even unknowingly) cause harm. Although some natural sadness is inevitable if we have to deceive those we care about in order to stay sane, guilt and shame are not part of any sane picture of reality; they are manifestations of anxiety, sentiments trying to usurp genuine emotion. They are just as dangerous and incongruous as hatred and malice. There is nothing wrong with feeling sad that someone is so dumb you have to lie to them.

Here is another perfect example of an ideological dilemma created by incongruity of association: society teaches us that we should feel guilty whenever we cause harm, and neuroscience tells us that the neurochemical state that guilt (and all sentiments) induce causes harm.

You have to decide which one you believe is true, but only science and personal experience can provide the proof. The only proof we have so far about guilt is that it degrades mind and body alike, but you must come to your own conclusions whenever you encounter ideological dilemmas of this kind. We need to learn for ourselves how to look at evidence and work out what is most likely to be true by ourselves, not be told what is true by anyone else. Reality has to make sense to us personally, or we won't ever feel comfortable in it.

To remain congruous, all human experience and beliefs about the world must associate congruously with healthy animal behaviors, or the mind will not be able to make coherent sense of circumstances; life in general will appear much too confusing for comprehension, anxiety will kick in and from that point perception is further clouded and many people just stop trying to understand anything new.

Perception, memory and prediction are mutually interdependant: if our associations are wrong, perception is unclear, memories are unclear, predictions and plans do not work out. Even the basic concepts of 'real' and 'not real' or 'beneficial' and 'harmful' are unclear and often wrongly associated, which makes it very hard for people to make any sense out of life, let alone achieve a rich quality of life experience.

...This seems a small, inadequate way to describe the mess of anxious confusion that is the health-wrecking reality of many people's lives, but I trust we all know enough about anxiety at this point to understand how many people won't realize how much it's controlling their every move until they have reduced it enough to experience life without it.

Q -What is it about animal behaviors that makes them such important universal associations for making sense out of things?

On the concrete level as we have learned, neurotransmission coordinates necessary animal behaviors with the emotional & body states needed for these behaviors. Neurotransmission and hormones tell us when we're hungry, tired, curious, alarmed or horny, and they also direct our behavior in all these circumstances.

For example, dopamine increases desire, in the hungry context that's the desire for food, prompting the basic animal behavior of strategic seeking as hunting/gathering. In the reproductive context it's the desire for sex (which we call lust), prompting courting and flirting behaviors as we go out strategically seeking a mate. In the exploratory/migratory context it's the urge to boldly go where no one has gone before. But it's the same transmitter and the same basic response -we go out seeking.

What is important here at intermediate level is understanding that the same system also delivers dopamine in the context of desire to motivate us to strategically seek the truth in a math problem or a scientific endeavor, or to observe closely when learning a new subject.

Likewise, acetylcholine can help us focus and discriminate better to stay on target -it doesn't matter whether the 'target' we're focusing on is an antelope coming in range of our blow-pipe, or the completion of a thesis or symphony. We need exactly the same state of mind to see things through to a successful outcome in abstract circumstances as we do in concrete circumstances: mental stamina, tenacity, determination, patience, focus and 'staying power', and these are invoked with exactly the same process regardless of the details of what they are going to be used for. The unconscious mind doesn't need to know the details in order to provide the necessary basics; it only needs to know which core concepts our behaviors relate to and in what order.

In summary, in the same way that our physical concrete abilities form the basics for their abstract analogues, healthy animal behaviors form the basic 'presets' or templates upon which more complex procedural and abstract constructs can be superimposed.

The basic animal behaviors are hard wired memories developed by evolutionary experience, with a direct link to our core concepts they form a major part of categorisation criteria for making sense of and allocating meaning to the world. They are deeply associated with types of processing necessary throughout the learning cycle, as we saw in tutorial 7, and in everything congruous that we do for the rest of our lives. They even furnish us with a natural morality, as we shall later see.

We are born intent on practising these behaviors through play, and performing them in reality, simply because both intelligence and biology need the range of experiences they cover in order to develop fully. Biology conforms to them automatically and unconsciously (even though consciously we may sometimes believe we are 'doing something' entirely different.)

These behaviors will become subverted whenever we are blocked from doing them by wrong input. Wherever incongruous association directs behavior; we will start doing dodgy things that are harmful to ourselves, to others and to our environment, and we'll carry on doing so until association is congruous, sometimes believing we are doing great good. But the worst danger of incongruous behavior is that it constantly pushes people out of the green zone and towards mental illness, whether they notice it or not.

Neurotransmission is subject to plasticity and if a healthy behavior is not practised, the network for processing that behavior will reduce the number of synapses carrying the relevant transmitters and network connections will degrade. If the wrong behaviors are practised, networks can develop an excess of some transmitters and/or transmitter-receptors that throws the whole brain chemistry off balance and network connections will burn out.

Consequently, a lot of what we do in intermediate NH involves firstly changing ourselves with exercises to tweak our associations into ever-greater congruity; secondly changing our context via input control to avoid incongruity in situations where we can, and thirdly learning 'getaround' hacks for situations where we cannot.

Don't worry at this stage if you are unsure whether your associations and behavior are congruous or not. We must fully understand these concepts before applying them with accuracy in self assessment. We are getting you used to these concepts now so that you will more fully understand the foundations of emotional stability, relationships and interaction, which we will be covering during this batch of tutorials. We'll have enough experience and examples along the way for you to understand how congruity enables interaction and incongruity leads to action/reaction in real life situations.





How Memories are Made


memory at cellular level

Once a cell has ‘made a move’ or the series of moves involved in a process, it will ‘remember’ it as a spatio-temporal pattern of sensation within itself; like the ordered steps of a dance.

Researchers [70] found that just one brain cell is capable of holding these fleeting memories vital for our everyday life. The specific signal that enables cells to do this has the unwieldy name “metabotropic glutamate transmission” (but you don’t need to remember terms like that in order to do NH.) All we need to know is that this transmission holds moment-to-moment information. The cell’s receptor, when switched on, starts an internal signal system that holds the "memory" of the cell’s pattern of behavior in place.

Understanding your brain's ability to retain short-term information in this way is important in understanding the laying down of longer-term memories –(If you've got no short term memory, you've got no way of making longer-term memories.)

All memory at cellular level consists only of these patterns –the spatio-temporal sets of movements that were made inside the cell, in order to initiate the processes and release resources (for example gene products, proteins, immune system triggering) required for the organism to respond to the input signals. The process is recorded as a ‘dance’, and new input sufficiently similar to old will trigger the familiar patterns. This is what is known as ‘muscular memory or sensorimotor memory, on the micro level. On the behavioral level physically it is the multiplicity of millions of these cell responses that results in our own series of bodily movements, perhaps for riding a bicycle or eating food, or moving our eyes so that we can read this tutorial. Our responses are ‘automatic’ and we don’t have to concentrate on them once we have learned. All the work is done unconsciously. But this is just brain + body –so what about mind? How do cells perceive at the mental level of thoughts, ideas, concepts and abstractions?


The beginnings of memory

To recap on perception: The patterns of encoded cell responses caused by input trigger the formation of percepts, which we interpret by comparison against our known concepts.

Long term memory is our database of known concepts or 'bits of meaning'.

Obviously when we are first born, we have a very small database of memories -our core concepts are primal images with broad spectrum associations, and these are used exactly as all memories coming after -they are a database of known concepts against which to compare input.

Most animals have such presets or hard wired memories. A newborn chicken has the image of a seed shape as one of its core concepts, associated with food and the animal behavior of food gathering. Any percept that has enough points of similarity to the core seed concept (for example small beads, ball bearings or colored dots) will be pecked at, because the details are only filled in later by trial and error, success and failure, like and dislike.

Our own database for the core concept 'matter' (N1) contains this hard wired image:



This image is associated with the proportions of a smiling human face and the animal behavior of bonding with allies. It is one of six initial concepts that act as biological triggers which, when met with their complementary percepts from the outside, triggers gene transcription to bring all of our senses fully online.

These core images are almost like 'boxes that biology has to tick' before the genome gets the message that it's safe to activate sensory systems.

When all boxes are ticked, human newborns find their systems flooded with oxytocin, serotonin and endorphins that destroy all the stress hormones that were needed for physical birth, we experience our first relaxation response and development goes right ahead calibrating the details of those new sensory systems. After a good sleep to defrag all these new associations it gets straight down to the exciting business of growth, exploration, play and development. Intelligence begins to unfold. Effectively from that point on we can use known memory plus imagination for both perception and making new memory. In ideal circumstances (where carers' priority is to understand what our minds need us to do and help us achieve that), long term memories begin in the first year of life. [28] This is how what we think of as 'our memory' is built from the bottom up.

To enable us to start building associations right away, we are hard wired at birth to recognise any percept that has enough points of similarity to these core images. As soon as the first relevant percept is recognized, it is added to our concept database with all its accompanying extra details, brain connections are growing and biology has signaled the genome to produce the proteins to start calibrating the associated system. This particular one (smiling human face) is vision.

As infants we have no conscious idea it is 'a smiling human face' we are looking for; that sort of detail (conscious awareness) comes later. All we know is that it makes us feel right and that it means all is right with the world; because to biology it means that growth and development can proceed to unfold as planned. Biology has some flexibility in core percept parameters -any face with enough points of similarity will do, but it must be presented within the first 45 minutes after birth for the chemistry of bonding to remove stress hormones before stress becomes chronic (anxiety). The more we recognize the relevant percepts, the more the genome is signalled and the faster stress hormones reduce. If we don't find any percept to match this image within an hour or so of birth, we'll remain blind for at least three months while the system seeks input to reduce anxiety and tries to boot up its systems. Mental development is then out of sync with physical development and it gets harder and harder to catch up with each delay in appropriate input.

Biology trusts the preceding generations' adults' unconscious knowledge to make sure that input is appropriate. In most cases these days culture (skills & knowledge, learning and experience, handed down in bonded relationships) has been replaced by society; an artificial external system that dictates what to do, and in most cases this system has failed humanity in that it mostly results in dysfunctional mentality and a lot of stupid and dangerous behavior, that with increasing numbers may at worst drive humans to extinction and at best transform them into mindless domesticated cattle. There is no future for intelligence in either path.

What we do in NH is supply appropriate input to enable mental development to emerge as intended at any age.


Processes of memory

Making new memories follows the learning process.

At this point we are going to extend your mnemonic for the learning cycle to “COMP VC”. Don't worry; there isn't a load more stuff to learn! We are simply separating Practice & Variation, and adding 'Coordination' to close the cycle, because in understanding memory we need to examine more closely the underlying processes involved and making these changes will make them easier to compare. By 'coordination' we mean the ability to creatively interact in the context of the subject of study, the skill being learned, or the type of process being coordinated with the rest of what we already know about reality; it becomes part of our 'big picture', and is incorporated as an updatable (dynamic) permanent memory in our database of known reality.


Memory processes: Receiving - perceiving - encoding - consolidation - retrieval - reconsolidation

Learning cycle: Concentration - observation - modelling - practice - variation -coordination


Concentration: reception

For new memories to form at all, input must be received and perceived. Comparison of new percepts with known concept images leads to recognition - so far this is the process of ordinary perception using existing memory for comparison, and no new memory is being made. The entorhinal cortex reformats input, and the hippo compares it.


Observation: perception

Existing long term memory prepares the neural activity for perception.[31] All perceived input ends up at the hippo, where it's combined into one single experience.[33] These two stages have been amply studied above and in the previous tutorial.


Modeling: encoding & weighting

Recognized percepts are encoded (reformatted) and held in short term memory storage (RAM) for further observation & comparison. We call this type of memory RAM because data are stored randomly and not according to association with any location. Weighting is added during this stage as described earlier. This stage is commonly known as memory encoding or registration.

Holding a short term memory requires N3 to communicate with N6 in specific ways using theta waves.[75] Importantly, these oscillations do not occur independently of each other, but synchronize their activity temporarily, and the more synchronized the activity is, the better we can remember the initial image.

Encoding begins with an analog process that automatically associates by location and simply represents one format of input with another, in this case graphics. It's exactly the same process that allows us to represent the color blue with the spoken word 'blue'. We know that the word is not the color; one merely represents by association the concept of the other. The color blue, in fact, is N3's graphic representation of certain wavelengths of light falling on the retina. Our brains do this sort of representation all the time in order to make sense out of input.

In reality, color is not an inherent property of objects; color is an emergent property of the interaction of our minds with the properties of reflected and refracted electromagnetic energy. A creature able to perceive ultra violet or infra red wavelengths of energy gets a quite different image than we do. What's coming into the eyeball is simply energy with a wavelength of roughly 440–490 nm. N3 detects the firing pattern lighting up a concept in the top right hand side of its inner model (which represents N4); the concept is 'blueness'; and N3 projects the graphic color stored at that location of its model onto the inner screen as a representation of what is stored in that exact location in the real N4. Result: you think that's blue you're perceiving now...?

Unseen result: the brain, using the minds own images as input, releases the neurochemicals which the weighting packet on that image triggers; and in this case blood pressure, temperature and heart rate drop slightly and we perceive time as passing more quickly.[35]

Constantly experienced emergent phenomena like color are stored permanently in N3. Blue graphics will be in the upper right hand area of the model because blueness is associated with the core concept 'time' and the location of area N4 (which processes all time related data) in the real world; the upper right area of the brain. The memory concept 'blueness' is stored in N4 because all memories with (conscious or unconscious) time-related associations are stored in N4, and the unconscious mind knows by direct physiological experience that input at 440–490 nm is associated with time perception in circadian rhythms (melanopsin, a photopigment expressed in the inner retina of mammals, mediates nonvisual photoreceptive tasks in circadian regulation in response to blue light).[36]

Time is a core concept, and all things relate back to the core concepts as the mind considers them the most important bits of meaning central to all things in reality, and this is not too surprising an evolutionary conclusion, because as far as we are able to determine through science, they are.

At no point of the process of recognition or recall does N3 think in words, "Oh, that's blue!". No semantics are in effect here; only graphic concepts. N3 simply follows the rule: IF signals flash in any location on this model, THEN project the images stored at those locations".

The concrete physiological process of encoding needs only basic signaling; all N3 has to do is project representations of associated concepts from the correct department, and it knows where everything is already because it has an inner model, on which the firing caused by input leaves a trace pointing straight to the required location in the real brain. When you read the words, 'imagine a real live tiger', the input pattern made by the sound of the words and the shape of the letters fires a 'tracer' on the inner model that points straight to the graphic image of a tiger together with associated behaviors and backgrounds, but N3 doesn't have to think in order to do that. If an input signal points to where a pigment graphic is stored, it just projects it. If there is no stored concept for blueness in N4 (say, because the person is colorblind), N3 will still project the nearest graphic concept to the location of input firing and may represent the color as green or gray.

Weighting has been partly described above. A surge of the neurotransmitters that accompany an ‘important’ experience sparks a series of molecular events that ultimately grows the physical brain and increases our memory store, and the density and type of this surge modulates an event’s weighting in our memory in all future recall.

The amy attaches a chemical packet to ‘tag’ the new picture with transmitter triggers to reproduce the emotional state accompanying the original experience so that we remember that it's important, irrelevant, dangerous or beneficial and associate it with particular networks by reference to core eidetic concepts. This is the ‘weighting’ of memory. If it goes wrong, this process can become pathological, as occurs in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a condition characterized by persistent, too-vivid memories of traumatic events.

New concepts with enough weighting are held in RAM until it's getting full, at which point we need to sleep so that it can offload and defragment its information.

Defragging is a complex process. Long term memory is contiguous; that is to say every part of long term memory (and every corresponding location on the inner model) stores a tightly-connected continuum of associated concepts, however new concepts are at this stage in RAM, all mixed together unsorted and unfiled. Basically N3 has to move new concepts into permanent storage accurately adjacent to their closest associations, and update its inner model to match this updating of long term memory.

It does this by physically organizing the contents of RAM into the smallest number of contiguous regions the memory fragment coordinates associate with, then reactivating those memories for sampling in the locations analogous to the coordinates on its inner model indicated by the initial input signals.

The inner model is a finite model, but enables us to re-use the same set of categories ad infinitum and the whole ‘chain’ of associations can be represented as a bit pattern that in computing would be called the memory’s ‘address’.

Space and time are always optimized. N3's graphic format is an effective form of compaction for the inner model, where only the basics are needed, interpretation by location is an instant method for translating one type of code into another, and the brain's tidy habit of removing unused data constantly frees up unused resources.

Defragging also keeps synesthetic associations together, as they are often accessed simultaneously or in sequence.

This process needs constant two way communication between N3 and N6, and intermittent contact with other areas of the cortex. And it happens fast. Researchers have shown that, during sleep, the reactivated memories of real-time experiences are processed within the brain as much as six or seven times faster, and the difference shows up sharply in EEG studies.[37]

Current findings support a bidirectional interaction model between the hippocampus and the cortex for memory consolidation.[38]

The order of sleep/consciousness stages occurs as follows: 1, 2, 3, 4, 3, 2, 5(REM), 2, 3, 4, 3, 2, REM etc then 6 (wakefulness) right after the last REM. Humans spend about half their sleep time in stages 2 and 3, and around a quarter in REM sleep.

Stage 1 sleep appears on the EEG as drop-out of beta (15-30 Hz)[47] and alpha (8-12 Hz) and an increase in theta (4-8 Hz) frequencies.

Stage 2 sleep is characterized by sleep spindles—transient runs of rhythmic activity in the 12–15 Hz range (sometimes referred to as the "sigma" band) that have a frontal-central terminal.

Slow oscillations are generated in the neocortex and hippo itself and reflect widespread up and down states of network activity. This 'down state' is a phase of hyperpolarization with neuronal silence, followed by a depolarization phase or 'up state' characterized by intense synaptic activity and neuronal firing as the hippocampus sends little, 100-millisecond bursts of activity to the cortex as much as three times per second.[39] Most of the activity in stage 2 is in the theta 4–8 Hz range.

Stage 3 and 4 sleep are defined by the presence of delta (1- 4 Hz) frequencies and are often referred to collectively as "slow-wave sleep"(SWS). In stage 3, delta waves make up less than 50% of the total wave patterns, while they make up more than 50% in stage 4.

So far everything is non-REM (or "NREM") sleep.

Stage 5 is REM sleep. Hippocampal rhythmic slow activity (RSA or theta) is a distinctive feature of REM sleep of rodents, carnivores, primates and humans.[40]

During REM sleep, intrahippocampal EEG recordings clearly show a theta frequency rhythm accompanied by a decrease of power in the beta range, and the hippocampus shows a generalized tendency to EEG synchronization.

Studies have revealed SWS-related slow oscillations in the hippocampus, as well, that are transiently coordinated with neocortical slow oscillations.[48] This co-ordinated slow wave oscillation may provide a substrate favoring hippocampal-neocortical dialogue for off-line memory consolidation.[49]

Gamma waves now occur between N3 and N6. Ordinarily, gamma waves relate to waking consciousness via the mechanisms for conscious attention, they display during cross-modal sensory processing (synesthesia that combines two different senses, such as sound and sight)[41], and during short term memory matching of recognized objects, sounds, or tactile sensations.

Gamma waves @ 40 Hz also appear in meditation after regular practice.[42]

When sleeping, they indicate visualization (imagination projecting images in the inner model). A wave that appears to originate in the thalamus sweeps the brain from front to back at 40 Hz (40 times per second), drawing different neuronal circuits into synch with percepts and bringing them into the attentional foreground. This synchronization gets the new concepts and the known concepts they relate to oscillating in synchrony, and 'cells that fire together wire together' tells us how concrete connections are joined to embody abstract associations between bits of meaning.

Within the hippocampus, high frequency oscillations known as sharp wave/ripple complexes (SPW-Rs) are associated with synchronous discharge of a large neuronal population in multiple hippocampal sites.[49]

Several studies have since revealed that ensembles of neurons, firing together during a particular behavioral experience, tend to ‘replay’ during the following SWS episode.[50] This activity recorded during sleep or during still wakefulness, is more likely to occur during ripple events. These cells fire together at high frequencies, which should promote Hebbian plasticity, i.e. Long Term Potentiation (LTP).[51]

High order replay of waking activity has been observed in the hippocampus during both SWS and REM sleep [43] reflecting the consolidation of episodic memory traces [44]. Hippocampal reactivations during SWS, correlated with an improvement in spatial memory performance, have been reported also in humans.[44]

In 2009, researchers discovered that the frequency of gamma oscillations routes the flow of information in the hippocampus.[45] A year later, further research showed that successful memory formation can be predicted by the degree of coordination of spike timing relative to the local theta oscillation.[46]

In 2011, neuro-physicists found there is an optimal brain "rhythm," or frequency, for changing synaptic strength. Each synapse is tuned to a different optimal frequency for learning.

The knowledge that a synapse has a preferred frequency for maximal learning led the researchers to compare optimal frequencies based on the location of the synapse on a neuron.

The optimal frequency for inducing synaptic learning changed depending on where the synapse was located. The farther the synapse was from the neuron's cell body, the higher its optimal frequency.

For the best effect, the frequency needs to be perfectly rhythmic; timed at exact intervals. Even at the optimal frequency, if the rhythm was thrown off, synaptic learning was substantially diminished.

Their research also showed that once a synapse learns, its optimal frequency changes. In other words, if the optimal frequency for a new synapse -- one that has not learned anything yet -- was, say, 30 spikes per second, after learning, that same synapse would learn optimally at a lower frequency, say 24 spikes per second.

Thus, learning itself changes the optimal frequency for a synapse.[52]

Research has even shown that spatial & procedural memory benefits from late, REM-rich sleep, whereas declarative memory benefits from early, SWS-rich sleep.[53]

Whenever we become semi-aware of the defragging process, the unconscious mind (in the perceptive equivalent of a source monitoring error) imagines it to be genuine input and attempts to interact with it. The result we call dreaming, and we'll be exploring dreams in greater detail in tutorial 10.


Practice: consolidation (storage)

The eventual permanent storage location of any memory segment in the inner model for most accurate association is a matter of trial and error. We assign an initial location from the data currently available and fine-tune it with further interaction. The more familiar we become with something, the more our memories are updated accordingly.

We can see this fine tuning taking place in real life if we compare our first impression memories of a place or person to our memories of them after long experience. The more interaction we get, the more accurate our assessments get of 'where they belong' in our overall associations. It takes practice to get memory categorization perfect.

Like all stages of memory, consolidation requires specific changes in neurochemistry. We start out by placing components of a memory where N3 thinks it probably belongs or might belong in relation to other similar experiences. The neurotransmitter noradrenaline stimulates initial development of local connections in all possible directions.

Every time neural signals fire along associated pathways, those particular pathways are strengthened (frequent users get broadband). The repeated release of neurotransmitters causes gene transcription, and the resulting proteins are sent to build more connections between cells that are firing coincidentally, both within areas and between areas. Local neurotransmitter producers and receptors are at the same time up- or down-regulated to optimise communication.

When sufficient signaling has ocurred to make it clear which association pathways are most often used, acetylcholine is released to shut down those association pathways with no-use or low-use density, which leaves the network with fine tuned probabilities for association.[30]

This process requires no conscious thought, in fact even organisms as simple as a slime mold can demonstrate the automatic problem-solving power inherent in networks. There are several videos of the process online and in one you can watch the mold solving a maze in the lab; the mold was more efficient at the task than graduate students. Researchers are planning on creating a bio-computer using slime molds, because its information-processing system would be quite close to that of the human brain. [34]

Categorizing memories and filing them where they belong by association for the long term is called Long Term Potentiation (LTP) or memory consolidation. Most of this transfer to long term storage takes place in our sleep, and it performs the equivalent task to defragmenting your hard drive -all data that should be associated together are moved out of RAM to locations for permanent storage together with previous similar data, aiding coherence of association, fast reformatting for local processing, and speed of recall.

Core associations divide N3’s inner model into categorization ‘territories’, each catering for one main network and its type of processing and memory, and because the inner model represents association by area, so the area coordinates of neuronal firing on the inner model during recall of a long term memory automatically reveals what sort of memory it is.

We literally embody the mind, and all memories are both physical links between cells and mental associations between concepts. The architecture of our brain inevitably forms an analogically- representational model of its contents.


Variation: retrieval

Individual basic concept memories are all made in the same way. In recall, the trick for making detailed accurate memories out of them lies in the ability to recombine them into accurate copies of previous patterns of neuronal firing and coincident association.

Remember, each network only holds its own parts of each memory –the part that relates to its own core category. Everything in a category and between categories is related through association. It is the patterns made when the trigger of one part summons a replay of all parts in unison that make us “remember” as a whole experience.

When a memory is ‘recalled’ (commonly known as 'retrieval'), it has to be imagined (portrayed in an image based format), reassembled from all memory ‘departments’ as an integrated whole, association being automatic, and this ‘assembling’ takes place largely in network 3. The image is a trigger for 'weighting' transmitter release as well as associated recall. The neurotransmitters released form a similar chemical state to that of the original memory, evoking similar emotions. The more accurately weighted the memory, the more accurately the mental state from the original memory is reproduced.

We don't notice that memories are a conglomerate of aspects of memory because they are presented to us; the user, as a 'fait accompli'. When we remember how to ride a bike, for example, we don't realize that this involves remembering what a bike IS, what we are, what roads are, what are the concrete physical body-mechanics of bike-riding, how to maintain balance during various motions, what street signs mean, what is the route we wish to follow, and so on. Add to this what bike riding feels like, sounds like and smells like, and we are approaching a whole memory, but there's still a lot missing...what other aspects of this memory were furnished by the original context?

Since the pattern of encoded responses in the original input is what makes us imagine (perceive) and remember what went on in the first place, so the resulting memory is bound to be ‘reproduced’ if the cells are signaled to run the same sequence of movements again. Similar events cause similar patterns, whether they are coming in, going out, being observed, or just being considered.

Hopefully it is plain that when we recall or remember something, what we are doing is re-imagining it. Some things that we can “see” in our imagination are things that have really happened, and we imagine them happening when we remember them. Memory is ‘projected’ onto the ‘screen’ of the mind’s eye by imagination.

For recall, any signal causing the same sequence of physical cellular movements automatically calls up the same abstract concept associations. –They are literally ‘re-called’; they are summoned back from disparate areas to merge into a coherent whole in our mind; an entire episode. THIS is 'episodic memory'; a merging of sensorimotor and spatial and other aspects of memories, with N3 & N6 running the show.

Remembering is simply imagining the past, just as perception is imagining the present and prediction is imagining the future.

We imagine the patterns of the past and we call it ‘memory’. We imagine the possible patterns of the future and we call it ‘prediction’. We imagine the patterns of the here and now, and we call it ‘perception’.

This same process (in the same networks) is used for perception of the here and now, remembering the past, prediction about the future, and also for establishing empathy and a theory of mind. In other words imagination itself prompts the storing of images, the recall of images, and the assembling of the ‘inner picture’ we call perception. The process of imagination uses memory as a database, and is responsible for its content.


Coordination: reconsolidation

The conglomerate that is a memory is not constant. Every time a memory is recalled it is updated. Instead of remembering it exactly the way it was, we incorporate any new associated information relevant to it and update the memory according to the new information.

Sometimes we change our associations with it so much that we recategorize it (remember anything you hated the taste of as a kid that you now like?)

Mainstream beliefs about consolidation have been re-evaluated as a result of studies showing that prevention at reconsolidation with protein synthesis inhibitors and many other compounds affects subsequent retrieval of the memory and can even lead to an amnestic state.[32] Memories are updated during reconsolidation; not during retrieval.[54]

Reconsolidation is an important process for neurohackers because it is the easiest point to hack wrongly-weighted memories. This is also important to remember in co counseling.

We'll discuss methods for hacking wrongly weighted memories in future tutorials.


comparing memory & imagination

Remember swimming, riding a bike or a horse, or playing a sport.

Notice how you automatically place the memory in a context by association.

This works with imagination as well as memory -remember when you imagined the tiger?

Watch the same system at work in the following exercises:

Remember the last animal you saw. Now imagine an animal you've never seen.

Remember a trip you once took to a place you liked. Think of a place you would like to visit and imagine what it might be like. Imagine taking a trip through time to the same place you are now, 200 years ago. What do you imagine it would be like? What about 200 years in the future?



Perception and Memory – A Summary


To make a long term memory of an event, experience or information, we go through the following procedure as demonstrated by our lab rat “Bob”:

Receiving: Input enters via our senses and networks 1-3 as a stream of information about temperature, light, pressure, sound, smell, movement etc. Your senses take in what something looks like, smells like etc, from the incoming patterns of light frequencies and shapes of chemical smell molecules.


Perceiving: We compare this pattern of input to the patterns we already have in our memory. From similarities and differences to previous patterns of experience (known concepts) we construct a new pattern that forms an ‘inner picture’ of what is going on “out there”. This happens in all sensory perception, whether we are going to remember an experience or not. We begin to ‘re-cognise’ –make an inner picture of what the item is. (e.g., looks like a fruit, smells like a fruit).

Patterns of thought and activity obviously occur all over the brain. Different networks process different kinds of information - sounds, sights, tastes, smells, etc., but all networks send their bursts of activity to –and get feedback from- the hippo & amy. The hippo & amy in N3 create and assign a pattern with a chemical weighting tag, keep a copy in RAM, and send that coded signal plus tag on to the relevant networks.

Encoding: The brain needs to distinguish between significant experiences and those that carry less importance, giving priority to the transformation of the former into long term memory. Critical in this process is the emotional load or ‘weighting’ of an event.

Studies have shown that heightened states of emotion facilitate learning and memory.

Neurotransmitters are known to play a central role in the emotional weighting of memory through their effect on receptors in the brain, and are also involved in inducing Long Term Potentiation (LTP) –the making of new long term memories. LTP involves a lasting increase in the strength/density of nerve connections, at synapses. This process is now considered to be the cellular basis for learning and memory.]



Patterns that cause emotional arousal prompt the release of neurotransmitters and what these are will depend partly on your personal experience. For example, if Labrat Bob got sick after eating a similar piece of fruit, serotonin will prompt a memory of disgust, which will attach to the current ‘fruit’ image.

Our mammal has remembered a similar fruit, and has attached serotonin and cortisol as the chemical packet associated with the experience. He is now feeling disgust, the chemical packet attached to the memory he just recalled, which associates 'fruits like this' with tummy ache.

If you normally like 'fruits like this' and you are hungry, dopamine will be attached and you will desire to eat it.

Emotional arousal such as is caused in play, for example excitement, curiosity, exploration, eagerness to learn, provides the neurotransmitters (dopamine, norepinephrine) for the ‘stretch’ part of making memories or the learning cycle. For the ‘relaxation’ part (acetylcholine, serotonin), if we’re healthy, all we need to do is go to sleep. In all parts of learning the brain is doing most of the work unconsciously, and in the consolidation stage our awareness is restricted to the brief snatches of eidetic imagery that reach as far as our consciousness in dreams. (The mind trying to make sense out of this imagery is what we call ‘a dream’.)

The ‘inner picture’ plus the chemical ‘attachment’ of the memory provide an appropriate behavioral response based on the evidence the system is aware of so far.

Working memory only attends to what is going on right now. If you are asked to remember a phone number until you can find a pen, your brain puts it on the clipboard. All is well unless you are then handed a cup of coffee, your computer crashes and then the doorbell rings. After putting your drink somewhere sensible, answering the door and explaining to some sales guy that you don’t want to buy anything, and sorting out the computer, the phone number is almost certainly no longer on the clipboard! This is not because you have a bad memory but because there simply wasn’t room. With practice you can increase the size of your clipboard, but it has limits. So things that are important need to come off the clipboard and into RAM for short term storage, and if they are important enough, to go on into permanent long term storage (consolidation).



Consolidation: If something is important enough to remember, the chemical ‘packet’ causes a cascade of transmitters to be released that signal the genome to make some new proteins. These proteins are used to build stronger connections between all the networks that took part in the experience. This is the meaning of the golden rule “Cells that fire together, wire together”, because they do so literally; this is how plasticity works. While this new construction work is going on, we store the memory in network 3 like RAM, just like a computer game does if the information is recent and you might need it again soon. If a series of related experiences is ongoing, we hold essential immediate information on the ‘clipboard’ (in network 6) as ‘working memory’.

Whenever we go to sleep, or spend time blankly staring, or in meditation, new memories are defragged and moved from RAM into their permanent locations around the entire brain. If you view the different networks as different ‘core processors with dedicated hard drives’ in a computer you’ll get a pretty accurate picture of how long term memory is selected and stored. There are some bits of every memory on every drive –but N3 does most of the code processing, and it does it all through association with core concepts.

Technical ingenuity has now provided neuroscientists with the ability to view defragging in real time; scanning a sleeping rat has revealed that the record of its journeys through a maze during the day was encoded by place cells in the hippo and played back during its sleep –as a result of which it remembers the maze in the morning. The brain does a lot of its work when you’re sleeping –and this is why sleep is so important for intelligence.

You don’t have to ‘observe’ during defragging; you don’t need conscious awareness; indeed it would get in the way (which is why you’re asleep). Your memory just needs defragging –sorting things out and putting bits of similar things together to free up more space in RAM.

This is why we can go to bed with an unsolved problem bothering us, yet when the cognitive networks see the resulting patterns in the morning, sometimes we ‘suddenly solve the problem’, often thinking, ‘why couldn’t I see it before?’ The reason was, it wasn’t there yet. You really do allow your brain to solve problems while you’re sleeping, simply by allowing it to consolidate more associations into the 'big picture' of what is going on.

The brain does most of this during slow-wave & REM sleep, meditation, and blank staring without thought –which you will sometimes catch it doing on its own whenever we have a quiet moment and are not busy with processing real-time inputs.

So now you know. If you get stuck in these tutorials, just crash out…(wouldn’t it be great if all tutors said this?) But now you may see a further problem with schooling –trying to teach a lot of people the same thing at the same time cannot work when each individual is going to have different optimal times for sleep and wake in order to learn optimally. If people are going to learn together, they have to not only live together but also be at similar enough stages of development, at which point their biological functions become synchronized. In a class of strangers, everybody is dependent on the other guys’ ping rate, and all you boys and girls who play games online will know what THAT means.


Each network uses the same graphic template and tag to retrieve its own part of the memory. Graphics are like ‘zipped’ formats that enable the brain to pack a lot of information into a few bits of code. It’s a bit like being able to copy a movie in less time than it takes to watch it –and for precisely the same reasons.

Memory is a process, just as imagination is a process. In this sense, memory can be viewed as a function of imagination. Reminders do not trigger 'a memory' -they trigger a process in which imagination constructs an ephemeral product -the re-formation of an event/experience in inner spacetime. When not being used, that product no longer exists. The 'memory' was a product of a software process and is a transient rather than a permanent phenomenon, much like models built from lego are not stored as models but dismembered and stored as a box of lego bricks. If you want to reproduce a model made in the past, you have to put the bricks together again in the same way you did first time.

This is because each network stores only its own part of each memory, and they have to be brought together (re-membered) in the correct configuration by N3 for every recall. The brain keeps memory parts tidily in their own compartments, like a nice new box of lego, which makes model assembly easier.

Memories are not constant and unchanging because pn recall, current updating information is added to past fragments to update memories.



On re-storing the memory components, these added components are meshed in with the rest to be recalled the next time that particular configuration is required.

These are the basics of how a memory is made. From previous tutorials we already know a little about the brain’s plasticity and how connections between neurons are physically changed (made denser) when a memory is made or a new thing is learned. This is achieved via the triggering of gene-transcription factors (chemicals that can turn genes on and off), by neurotransmission instructing the gene to make new proteins that are used to build the denser physical connections.

We realize that we have only sketched the surface of how memory works here, and if you feel you’d like more scientific information about memory on a deeper level, look in the files under ‘plasticity’ or google ‘Hebbian plasticity’ and ‘Long Term Potentiation’, as we’re not going into too much scientific detail in these practical tutorials. The proof is out there. [56]





What Happens if Things Go Wrong?


Understanding the nature of memory

It is important to be aware of the limitations of all human memory because they often go unnoticed. False memories are not unusual; in fact, they are impossible to define, because in real life what is ‘true’ in one circumstance is no longer true in another; for example someone who was 'a bit of a twit' in our memories of 1997 may be 'a really cool dude' in our memories of last week, or a food that was 'really good' when we had an iron deficiency is not necessarily really good now that we don't), so memory is dynamic –that is to say it is updated in the light of our current knowledge, context, expectations and experience.

Memories evolve. Falsities creep into almost every mundane recollection but only some of them become apparent (such as when you are sure you remember putting your phone in your bag, but it isn’t there). Memory does not record real events like a videotape, it re-creates the past, producing a version of events that makes most sense to us from our current perspective. Even long term memories may in the end bear little resemblance to what actually happened originally. This 'evolution' of the truth as we see it is a normal and necessary part of any healthy intelligence maturing and grasping a broader understanding of reality.

Memory is limited by two factors, and we bet you already know what they are.

Wrong input and nonuse.


Some reasons why memory networks aren’t used enough:

There can be many causes for memory networks being underused, and varying consequences. Here are the most usual:


Early experience -Some sensorimotor programming is hard wired (a good example of this is our ability to blink as an object heads rapidly towards the eye, even if we haven’t consciously seen it), but most is learned, and early bad habits can work against us.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, lack of the correct behaviors to build memory networks in the first place is the main reason for having a poor memory! [No matter! –It’s repairable]. Being made to “keep still” as a child probably does more harm to the early development of memory than anything else. It makes sense that to develop sensorimotor and spatial skills, we need to move about in space and experience things with our senses, and if we didn’t get to do this adequately when small, our memory will be compromised.


Nasty or nice

Another area of difficulty arises whenever adults try to force anxiety-based associations on children and ignore their own sensory appraisals. Surviving and thriving is what intelligence is all about, and a lot of memory is therefore dedicated to sensory sign and pattern recognition (because it works really well for finding food and avoiding predators, so intelligence is unlikely to discard it). Young humans begin to recognise and remember “nasty” or “nice” sights and sounds, textures, expressions, smells and tastes; they register as ‘nasty’ or ‘nice’ long before we know what all their sources are called, which is greatly useful for survival. (And this is also a basis of ‘biological morality’ –when intelligence is healthy it ‘likes’ things that are good for its current circumstances and ‘dislikes’ things that are harmful.)

If this is subverted, the resulting adult has difficulty making decisions, as they have been taught that their own opinion is not valid and they must seek assurance from others in order to do so. This is very disabling.

Wrong use causing nonuse

Interesting thing to consider: everyone tested under the age of four is able to learn and remember perfect pitch. There are no home-educated amusics (amusia is the inability to discriminate pitch), but almost all those who went to school have developed an overactive N5 at the expense of N2 and have consequently lost this ability. If you went to school, be aware that you are more likely to have less than optimal spatial memory and find it harder to sing in tune. You were not born tone deaf however and the ability can be regained once we start balancing up the networks and putting in some practice with correct input.

If you have this problem you may have a poor spatial memory and sense of direction and/or could have difficulties learning sensorimotor tasks such as dancing, swimming or driving. If we didn’t have much early exposure to music or musical skills, that can also affect the efficiency of our spatial memory.


The brain not getting what it needs –This is one of our golden rules for a good reason. Lack of sleep, dreaming, nutrition and exercise are another major cause of poor memory performance. You need neurochemicals to make memories, and many of them are made from nutrients in foods. If you don’t eat the right foods or get enough sleep, you can’t make them.



Peer pressure and lack of confidence –There are many reasons for imposed self-limitations; perhaps you attended a school or hung out with a group where being ‘clever’ was seen as “uncool”, or perhaps you were told by teachers or employers that you were a slow learner or, (like Einstein), would “never amount to very much”. The brain takes on board whatever it hears, and naively believes it to be true. Sometimes this is habitual self-deprecation. –Tell yourself that your memory is crap and sure enough, your unconscious mind will strive to comply with exactly what’s expected of it!



Medication, chemicals & drugs –Some types of medication can cause memory difficulties. This is a common side effect, for example, with sleeping pills. Anything that interferes with dreaming will make it harder for you to keep memories long term. Something you learn today could be gone again next week or tomorrow. Different medications may also react badly together to cause changes in memory function.

Alcohol is particularly bad for memory, especially if binge drinking, and anesthesia for an operation can cause some memory loss. Cannabis and alcohol are notorious for short term memory loss when used in excess. Persons taking long term steroid treatment for inflammation will also develop memory problems (and depression) because of increased cortisol (see later).

An excess of iron especially in the neonatal period can cause memory deficits in the resulting adult. The antidote to iron excess is sodium butyrate. [65]

Apathy -The main reason for memory decline after age 23. Giving up and reducing life to a soap opera, never bothering to learn anything new or take any interest in anything outside our everyday routine 'known zone' will cause memory decline as well as reducing other abilities whenever we do it. Despite popular belief, memory need not decline with age at all!

Inability to pay attention/concentrate –If you can’t pay attention to what’s going on here and now sufficiently to perceive it in the first place, you may blame your memory when really it has no fault!

To quote Sensei Labrat, “If skunk fart, why blame tiger?” -Always try to trace the causes of any poor performance starting from the bottom up. If you think your ‘memory’ is bad, first think about your interest/motivation levels, anxiety levels, distractions and how sensitive you are to them, and remember that absent-mindedness can also be caused by trying to do too many things at once.


Blocking (The failure to recall a fact or name that you feel is ‘on the tip of your tongue’) is a recall problem that can be caused by any of the above, by sudden trauma, or by wrong use.


Underactive left hippo –will give us a tendency to have a fine short term memory, but have difficulty hanging onto information in the long term. We may particularly notice we’ve forgotten stuff after sleeping.



What happens if these memory networks are used wrongly?

There are many ways to use memory networks wrongly too! This can really slow you down, particularly when learning something new. Here are the most usual possibilities:


Anxiety –Along with depression, the # 2 reason for a permanently poor memory, mainly because high cortisol cuts off blood supply to the frontal lobes and stops us concentrating. In addition to preventing new memories being formed, when anxious we may notice that our recall is poorer and we are less able to deal with anything complex.

When people are anxious they find it harder to take in information, because their working memory is bombarded with all kinds of anxious thoughts, which take up valuable processing time. Some degree of mental arousal (stretching = stress) is important to motivation as we know, but chronic stress (straining = anxiety) can overwhelm working memory and paralyse the memory system.


Anxiety damages the hippo, leading to shrinkage of cells and their death. Cortisol depletes hippo cells of glucose, and as a result they become hypersensitive to glutamate. This burns them out and prevents new ones developing by decreasing BDNF [a chemical needed for cell growth and survival and the maintenance of connections between cells]. In a nasty double-bind, hippo cells release glutamate themselves when short of glucose.


In long-term low level chronic anxiety, the entire hippo reduces in size. The effects of tiny anxieties we may not even be consciously aware of can build up blood cortisol levels to cause this problem over time, so it’s important to remember to practise the relaxation response to get rid of them regularly.

Once we've got anxiety under control, the hunted becomes the hunter. If we feel uncomfortable with something, or notice body changes associated with cortisol, we go hunting the reasons why, armed with a clear perspective. We make a mind map about it, or notes, we figure out what we are associating the event or thing with, try out different hacks to stop it, and so on. Taking responsibility for being in control gives us the self confidence to analyse our own behavior objectively as well as subjectively, and take steps to change it.



An overactive ‘danger’ side or underactive ‘benefit’ side amygdala occurs to the extreme in paranoia. Instead of screening for legitimate dangers, it assumes everything is dangerous and often more important or more meaningful than reality warrants. Obviously this can lead to wrong input as it tends to distort memories into anxious ones as they are being made. In milder cases, recall will become more selective, tending to remember depressing events more than cheerful ones, as well as putting a slant on perception of current experience as being ‘mildly worrying’.

Depression –Is another significant cause of memory problems, both taking in new memories and recalling existing ones. Even relatively mild depression can cause a poor neurochemical state. If the individual is frustrated, worried or preoccupied with sentimental or miserable thoughts, this can significantly affect attenton, concentration and memory. Depression causes changes in specific neurotransmitters in the brain involved with both mood and memory, resulting in state-selective recall (this means that when in a depressed state, one can only access depressing memories –a bit of a catch-22.)


Trauma & 'repression' –Sometimes memories may be so unpleasant that they become difficult to recall. This used to be thought of as ‘repression’, but scientists now know that such memories have not been assimilated properly in the first place. Wrong weighting and association can also cause involuntary memory recall or ‘flashbacks’ of traumatic events, commonly known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder [PTSD].


Source monitoring error -Results in making false memories, this occurs when congruous perceptual and reflective processes are disrupted, either by limited encoding of source information or by disruption to the judgement processes used in source-monitoring (for example with wrong association). High anxiety levels, depression and damage to relevant brain areas are examples of factors that can cause such disruption and hence source-monitoring errors.[57]


There are three major types of source monitoring: external source monitoring, internal source monitoring, and reality monitoring, all of which are susceptible to errors.


External source monitoring errors -memory failures on discriminating between external sources, such as events happening in the world surrounding us. An example of this would be determining wrongly which one of our acquaintances said something funny or rude.[57]


Internal source monitoring errors -memory failures on discriminating between internal sources, such as our own memories making a mix up between what we thought and what we actually said.


Reality monitoring errors -memory failures on discriminating between internal and external retrieved sources. An example would be confusion about whether we witnessed something happening in real life or saw it in a TV program, whether we saw a ghost or projected an image of one, whether we view a hallucination as being inside our head or outside in the world, whether something happened in real life or if it was just a vivid dream or wishful thinking. This is the most usual area of errors.


The frontal areas of the brain (N6) as well as N3 are implicated in source monitoring errors. They poccur much more frequently in patients with frontal lobe damage.[57] There are many processes that occur in the frontal regions that are important for source monitoring; these include circuits linked with the hippo that encourage feature binding and structures that play a role in strategic retrieval. Processes which promote congruous association both concretely (physically) and abstractly (cognitively) during encoding and retrieval, are important to source memory.

Source monitoring errors are sometimes called misattribution. Suggestibility can also cause this –someone else- parents, acquaintances or teachers for example, trying to convince you that things happened in a certain way may cause you to ‘remember’ them that way even though the information is wrong. Personal beliefs can also cause misattribution; if we believe that an event is unlikely we are less likely to believe or remember that it occurred.

Bias –Revising our memory of a situation to make it fit what we believe, think or feel now. When we need to do that on purpose because we discover we were previously mistaken, that's fine, but we don’t want it happening to memories by accident and out of context. Some things should remain labelled ‘a bad idea’ regardless of what mood you are currently in.


Beware of thinking, “oh, that wasn’t really so bad” before you try a stupid thing out for the second time –have you biased your memory of what ‘that’ was really like, because you’re in a great mood now? It works the other way round, too. Are you pulling up depressing memories associated with something or someone and ignoring the happy ones, when feeling a bit down?



Overactive front networks –particularly N5, can cause us to forget sensorimotor stuff. You may have experienced this when doing something more or less automatically from sensorimotor memory, (like playing a song, doing a dance, driving a car, riding a bike) and all of a sudden you start thinking consciously about how to do it and you forget what the next move is and muck up. People often say “My mind went blank” in such an experience. You can sometimes induce this conflict on purpose by trying to remember the lyrics to a song you know without mentally singing the song. If you can do this easily without any conflict, you may have an overactive N5.



Pregnancy & hormonal changes –Many people experience temporary memory changes during pregnancy, these may be associated with hormone changes as they are rarely permanent. Such change is normal in the adjustment of homeostasis to support an extra life, and is not cause for concern. If memory changes occur with symptoms such as tiredness or nausea, lifestyle adjustments can quickly help things back into balance.



Acute physical damage –A blow to the head or a whiplash injury can affect memory, so can disease and infection. Such changes are not usually permanent, although you might want to take a neuroprotective if recovering from such an event.


Problems with individual aspects of memory

While most people think they have either a "pretty bad" or a "pretty good" memory, in fact, most people are fairly good at remembering some types of things and not so good at remembering others.

If you have trouble remembering specific things -- assuming there is no physical damage -- it's usually not the fault of your entire memory system but an inefficient component of just one part of the memory process.

    Problems with receiving

    If you've forgotten something, it may be because you were distracted during input or because you were having trouble receiving it (for example, a sexy call from a partner during a lecture, a noisy building site outside, a lecturer who mumbles or is too quiet, a seat at the back where you couldn't really see, or a problem with your own senses can all cause lack of reception). You may not have really forgotten anything at all -- instead, the information may never have gotten into your memory in the first place but went, as the saying goes, "in one ear and out the other" .[58]

If the information is something the unconscious finds boring, pointless and emotionless, it will tend to ignore it even if the conscious mind thinks its important. If you're trying to read a dull business report in the middle of a busy airport, you may think you're remembering what you read, but you may not have effectively saved it in your memory. Information has to be congruous in order to be taken seriously, so if the unconscious can't see how something relates to reality, it tends to ignore it. This is not a fault of your memory, it is a problem of wrong input. The brain is not getting what it needs, the mind is idling and it's bored.


    Problems with perceiving

    Particularly a problem with learning new information; if you've ever tried to remember something one time and couldn't, but then later you remember that same item, it could be that there was a mismatch in association between percept cues and the concepts you were searching for. In other words there were not quite enough ‘points of similarity’ between the known and the unknown. If this happens to you when studying, it means that you simply don’t have enough bits of basic information yet to make a coherent memory. Carry on seeking input until you do.


    Problems with encoding

    The most common problem for encoding is lack of sleep and interruption of sleep unnaturally. Waking up to an alarm clock is starting the day with a cortisol rush before your memory has finished defragging, and everything left over may well be lost. This slows learning right down, by degrees that correlate with the amount of sleep lost.

    Alcohol, junk food and drugs can interfere with any of these processes, so you have to be aware your memory may be compromised when under the influence of anything. You should also be aware of ‘state dependent learning’ –for example an item originally remembered when drunk can be recalled more easily when drunk (in the same neurochemical state originally associated with it). Likewise, a memory originally made when you were feeling happy will return more easily when you're happy.

Medications and substances that interfere with dreaming will prevent encoding and consolidation.


    Problems with consolidation

    On learning new subjects or techniques, lack of 'staying power' (tenacity, determination, stamina, duration) is the biggest cause of problems with consolidation. People read something or watch a demonstration once, then never go back there or consider it out of context.

Practice makes perfect; how often have we heard that? We have no difficulty understanding this from experience in terms of learning concrete skills, but people seem to have more difficulty understanding how it works with abstract information or our mental skills themselves. This is a bummer, as it causes us to lose valuable potential in developing our abilities.

The formula is the same -you learn a mental skill or improve an ability by practice. You don't need to take time out to practice many skills if you take the initial time to incorporate new habits into your lifestyle. For example every time we take a journey we can incorporate spatial memory exercise. Every time we look at or post on a forum, we can practise communication under core conditions. That's the fastest way to progress -making good habits a part of your everyday life by fitting them in to the 'big picture' and understanding how everything you change in your life in the here and now is affecting your own ability in the future. Get into the habit of stretching and relaxing your mind wherever you can, and you won't need to set aside time for exercises.


Problems with retrieval:

The most common problem in retrieval is failure to remember where we put something we use all the time, such as shoes, coat, keys, pens, lighters and small bits of personal tech. Often, we fail to pay enough attention to where we place these things when we discard them as ‘no longer needed today’. We must make an internal image of where we are putting them, or we won't be able to remember their location the following morning. But failure to pay attention is just one possibile cause; another is that you may have registered an inner picture, but failed to retain in RAM what you registered. And another is that you may have retained it in RAM but are unable to retrieve the memory accurately.

Therefore, if you want to stop forgetting where you left things, you will have to work on making sure that all three stages of the remembering process are working properly. Another handy trick is to cultivate the automatic habit of always leaving things in a particular place when you've finished using them (not easy if you have a weak N4, but practice makes perfect) : )


Problems with reconsolidation

Sometimes the memory will fail to add new information to old in reconsolidation. For example, say you knew someone who was a violent drunk, and all your early memories of their behavior are unpleasant. One day they discover neurohacking and over the next few months they turn their lives around and become a gentle, creative, happy drunk. Months later again, they are still happy and creative but no longer drunk.

If your memories of them consistently 'miss out' the recent behavior, even though you have experienced it (rather than just heard about it), there is some problem with reconsolidation. Such problems generally crop up with retrograde amnesia, but much more common is incongruous association involving some sentiment. In the latter case, consciously reminding yourself of such changes and considering how great they are can weight the new information to avoid disregarding it.

If you find you can only remember selectively (for example, only bad memories about a person or place, rather than a mixture of good and bad, which is usually the case) you should check yourself for depression. If you catch yourself doing this, deliberately call up some good memories associated with the person or place (even if they are only the fact that you learned and became wiser from the experience.)

For cells that fire together to wire together in reconsolidation, it has been discovered [73] that The entorhinal cortex receives the information from areas around the brain and then passes the information to the hippocampus. If the entorhinal cortex is disabled or sparse, the linking of memories to what is currently happening is difficult.


Memory Warning Signs –cutting problems off at the password

Whether it’s caused by wrong use or non use, if memory degrades the obvious problem is that we’ll forget things, but what you maybe don’t realise is that we will also forget that we forget things. Early memory loss is so hard to detect subjectively precisely for this reason –a faulty memory forgets that it is faulty! The first symptoms that we usually notice are spatial –not being able to remember where we put something, or where somewhere is, and because this is noticeably inconvenient we tend to realise, if it happens often enough, that our memory is not performing as well as it did...but way before that, it’s likely that we’ve been forgetting things and not even realising it. We all have forgetful phases and days, but thinking “Where did I put that?” all the time indicates a loss of where the memory is stored as well as the loss of an item in real space.

Forgetting where you parked or where you left personal items is most often completely normal. It's known as "everyday forgetting," and it's so common because it involves things we do every day and usually don't spend too much time paying attention to.

Of course, while most people experience everyday forgetting quite often, a few people have a true organic problem with memory that may need attention. -How do you tell the difference between "normal" forgetting and a more serious problem with memory?

The following are common warning signs that memory problems may be more than everyday forgetfulness and should therefore warrant a medical evaluation as well as improvement exercises. (We give some 'where to get help' tips right after this section):

  • Anterograde amnesia - Inability to remember ongoing events after the incidence of trauma or the onset of an illness.

  • Emotional/hysterical amnesia - Ongoing memory loss caused by psychological trauma (usually a temporary condition).

  • Lacunar amnesia - Ongoing inability to remember a specific event (may be a traumatic event)

  • Korsakoff syndrome - Memory loss caused by chronic alcoholism

  • Posthypnotic amnesia - Ongoing memory loss sustained from a hypnotic state; can include inability to recall events that occurred during hypnosis or information stored in long-term memory (Should be a temporary condition)

  • Retrograde amnesia - Inability to remember events that occurred before an incidence of trauma or the onset of an illness.

  • Transient global amnesia - Repeated incidents of sudden memory loss that can last from minutes to several hours; various causes.

  • Procedural Memory problems that affect job performance or interfere with your everyday functioning

  • Difficulties with language or declarative memory, such as frequently forgetting simple words or substituting inappropriate words

  • Spatial disorientation in familiar locales or in familiar situations

  • Confusion about time of day, month, season, or decade. Confusion about the name of the day today or the actual date is not indicative of a problem unless constant, but confusion about whether it is for example day or night, summer or winter, January or September, is serious.

  • Working memory problems can be indicated by suddenly decreased or unusually poor judgment; if you find yourself starting to make more bad decisions, working memory may be in trouble, or connections between N6 and other frontal networks or the CC (Corpus Callosum). Anxiety is the most common cause.

  • Memory problems accompanied by other symptoms such as extreme fatigue, loss of interest in activities that are typically enjoyed, rapid or unusual changes in mood, agitation, listlessness, problems with balance and coordination, headaches, vision problems, numbness, shortness of breath, or chest pain; should be considered serious.

It's important to keep in mind that there are a variety of factors that can cause memory problems, from stress and depression to vitamin deficiencies and circulatory problems; most memory impairments do not signify the onset of Alzheimer's disease! That's why a thorough medical evaluation is worthwhile if memory problems are out of the ordinary or cause concern. Once the underlying cause is determined, it can often be treated, and the memory problems remedied as a result. As we all know, some of the most common lifestyle factors and medical problems can also cause memory impairment.

How to Get Help
If you're concerned about problems with memory, get a clear and detailed diagnosis as soon as possible. You could discuss it with a medical doctor, who can give you in-depth tests to evaluate your memory and/or refer you to a psychologist or other specialist who can give you a battery of tests for memory, problem solving, counting, and language. Odds are, you'll be completely reassured after the tests show that your memory is more or less just about the same as everyone else's. We’ve included one such test in the assignments later in this tutorial.

If your results suggest there may be some memory loss, a doctor or specialist will still need to ask you a lot of things, because s/he will want to rule out physical causes of memory problems, such as alcohol abuse, drug use, sleep disorders, head injury, or any vascular problem such as a stroke or hardening of the arteries.

So if you really want to find out what’s happening, you have to go in there ‘straight’ and/or be honest about anything you are taking, including prescribed medication. A doctor also might want to check for untreated diabetes or HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Be prepared to give them full details about all medications, herbs, or supplements you take if you want an accurate diagnosis, since many drugs and supplements and infections can affect memory.

In addition, they may order tests of blood and urine or a brain PET or MRI scan to help rule out brain disorders. A scan may also show signs of any changes in the brain. It may be necessary to have another scan at a later date to see if there have been further changes in the brain.

Once you have a clear diagnosis you can decide how to tackle the problem, but the sooner you get a diagnosis, the better.

If any doctor shrugs memory problems off as ‘normal age-related decline’, change your doctor. If you can’t, start practicing memory exercises and check if changes in your lifestyle have led to a lack of new input. Time to take up a hobby? Try neurohacking : ) It’s an indoor pursuit with no heavy lifting.

Even when memory problems do have a physical cause, all is not lost. Learning and practicing memory skills can be helpful.


Aging and memory.

A great deal of absolute bollox is written about aging and memory. In a healthy brain, there is no need for any loss of ability at all, and we should remember to bear this in mind when reading about those whose brains are not healthy (eg, most people). Like it or not, medical statistics are based on 'most people', and consequently what is in actuality dysfunction becomes thought of as 'normal'.

NHers are not normal, thank goodness. As we get older, we know that memory problems can only increase due to either disease (which is usually attributable to lifestyle factors) or the long term effects of either non-use or wrong use (which are always attributable to lifestyle factors). We saw earlier in these tutorials that as we learn and remember, our brain doesn't change its overall size or grow millions of new batches of nerve cells -- it's the connections between cells that grow denser as we learn. Our synapses are reinforced, and cells make more and stronger connections with each other. But if we fall into habits of non-use or wrong use, these synapses begin to falter, which begins to affect how easily we can retrieve memories and learn new things. Obviously the longer we do this, the worse our memory will become, which is why memory loss is associated with aging. It doesn’t have to be!

Studies have shown that many of the memory problems experienced by older people can be lessened -- or even reversed. Studies of elderly populations show that people are able to make significant improvements in memory when given rewards and challenges.

Evidence from animal studies suggests that stimulating the brain can stop cells from shrinking and can even increase brain size in some cases. Studies show that rats living in enriched environments with lots of toys and challenges have larger outer brains with larger, healthier brain cells. And animals given lots of mental exercise have more dendrites, which allow their cells to communicate with each other. Research has shown that, in our later years just as at any age, a stimulating environment encourages the growth of these dendrites, while a dull environment impedes it.

A major discovery [60] was that of the molecular “recycling plant” that maintains the coherence of memories over time. With non-use, cellular density reduces as unused receptors literally drop off the synapse. These are picked up on the dendritic spines of neurons (which contain ‘recycling plants’), and reattached only if they appear to be needed; otherwise they are moved to an area where use is more frequent. Individual memories (and cognition in general) rely on millions of receptors continually being reinstated. The chief researcher stated: “The system is simultaneously dynamic and stable. If these receptors don’t get recycled, you see a gradual loss of synaptic function that is associated with reduced cognitive ability.”

In the very early phases of Alzheimer’s disease (often before any other symptoms become apparent) the dendritic spines gradually lose their ability to transport and recycle the receptors. Non-use leads to deterioration, and causes major cell loss in the hippo (N3) and the ACG (Anterior cingulate gyrus) in the front of the brain (N6) that leads to a drop in the production of acetylcholine.

Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in neurons alter apoptotic (cell death) signaling, protecting a broad range of neurons, and may block the apoptosis triggered by beta-amyloid fragments that contributes to the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. If so, nicotinic agents may prove useful in the treatment of this and other neurodegenerative conditions.[59]

Acetylcholine is vital to learning and memory. If it’s not used, the hippo either fails to develop or loses 0.5 percent of its nerve cells with each passing year -- for a total loss of 20 percent (the equivalent of more than one whole network!) by the time we reach our 80s. In addition, the brain itself shrinks in overall density of connections with non-use. If we never fully developed networks in the first place, degradation is faster.

So the important point to remember is that in many cases, an older person's brain may be less effective not because of a structural or organic problem but simply as a result of lack of use!

A second problem is lack of oxygen. Many people grow less physically active with age, especially if they haven’t kept their bodies fit. If most of their mental exercise was achieved when up and about doing things, new pursuits that engage the mind must replace this input. If it doesn’t, we can lapse into non-use.

This also applies to anyone suddenly deprived of exercise, such as after an accident or injury or if you are a ‘newbie’ wheelchair user. If you’re not physically healthy, lack of exercise can cause deterioration of blood flow to the brain as your body ages. You need to look after your circulatory system. Supplement with omega 3, drink alcohol in moderation and do some gentle exercise (for example yoga) plus breathing exercises for the benefit of your heart & lungs as well as your brain if your mobility is limited. You can start a low-GI diet at any age and will still notice the benefits.

Of course, other things can happen to the brain to cause or speed up decline. You may have inherited some unhealthy genes, you might have been exposed to poisons, had unfortunate accidents, illnesses, or perhaps you ate a bad diet or drank too much for many years. All these things speed up memory decline. But lifestyle matters much more in the here and now than the past, and it’s never too late to turn our behavior in a direction that improves things.

Don't be paranoid. The older people get, the more they tend to get anxious about their memory. If you’re forgetting stuff at age 20, you probably don't think a thing about it, or you blame it on being too stoned or tired at the time. At 40, you may begin to worry about having "a worse memory than you used to" or “suddenly forgetting stuff I’ve known for ages.” Perhaps you start thinking about using supplements to boost your memory. At 60, many people begin to panic at exactly the same sort of memory glitches they have had all their lives and suddenly anxiety is squeaking in their ear: "Could this be the first sign of Alzheimer's disease?" If you're taking care of it, there's no reason to expect any decline.

Don't be coerced by peer pressure. The older you get, the more likely society will be trying to convince you to worry about memory problems and buy some drugs to prevent them -- but the more you worry about memory, the more you pay attention to it, the more you'll notice each and every slip-up and the more you’ll slow your memory down with anxiety. Odds are you forgot quite a lot of things when you were in your teens or twenties, but you never paid any attention to those lapses.

You’ll also be much more likely to notice slips once you’re actively neurohacking, because you’re getting more sensitive to your own brain’s condition and more aware of what it's doing. So do bear in mind: the more you expect to have memory problems, the more you'll notice them and possibly even cause them.

More than anything else as you age, "know yourself" is a primary rule. The more you know about your own body and mind, the more you are able to adjust behaviors to suit different contexts and adapt, from a sedentary life into an active one, or from manic activity to more controlled strategy.

NEVER listen to anxiety saying you are 'past it'; there is no age prejudice in life, and biology's way of telling us we are 'past it' is being dead. As long as the brain is alive, it strives to improve itself against any and all odds. We can either help it, or get in its way...and we know exactly where the latter road leads and none of us want to go there.




 Core Skills for Memory Health and Improvement


Maintaining low anxiety levels

The biggest overall enemy of memory is anxiety. As we know, a single rush of stress hormones keeps us alert and stretches our mind and makes learning and remembering easier, but if the brain is constantly flushed with cortisol the hippocampus and frontal lobes will be damaged, with deleterious affects on learning and recall.


Strategizing for healthy sleep

The second biggest problem for memory is sleep-deprivation. Being woken by alarm clocks or getting to sleep using sleeping pills/alcohol will automatically cause this. Even a small amount of sleep/dream deprivation is bad news for memory and perception, because it results in unpleasant events being remembered more often than pleasant ones. The amy prioritises ‘danger’ events if the hippo doesn’t have time to fully process all its contents, in fact it even has a special backup network to do this -so if you go short on sleep you will still recall bad events but your memory of good ones will more easily fade. As you can imagine, this can have a strong distorting affect on your perception of life in general.

Using it -don't rely on external aids unless you have to

Your memory wants you to play with it, every day. We are used to thinking of constant use as something that wears things out or makes them break down, because this is how machines, artefacts and tools behave. We must get used to the idea that NOT using the brain is what wears it out and using it wrongly is what makes it break down.

Obviously we write stuff down or make a note on our tech when we have difficulty remembering it, and that's fine. But there's no excuse for not committing to memory short simple stuff that we use a lot, or avoiding bothering to remember something because 'it's in my phone/on my computer'. That won't improve memory, and a great memory exercise is to make a list of all the little things you use a lot, such as phone numbers, email addresses, birthdays, appointments etc, and then commit them to memory. You'll not have to waste time keep looking stuff up, and you will improve your memory for other tasks just by doing this. While you are learning, you can still set alarms for important appointments, and it feels very cool when you already know what you are doing and get reminded of it.

Other opportunities along the same lines: if you sit in the house and make a shopping list by mentally going round the kitchen and remembering what you need, and then take the list to the shops, why not miss out the list step? Walk round the shop and mentally go round your kitchen and simply pick up whatever you remember you need.

If you use bookmarks in hard copy books, try memorizing what page you're on when you put the book down, then recalling it whenever you want to read more. Practicing little things like this regularly makes a huge difference to performance of memory overall; any system that's accustomed to being used regularly is primed for constant use and patrolled by a healthy immune response.


Taking care of the supporting factors

Memory relies on many supporting systems, notably attention, congruous association and imagination.

A great way to check/improve your sustained attention and improve your visual imagery is to listen to audio books and take note of how often your attention drifts off the story even though you are interested in it. (If the story proves boring, you choose another story). After listening, try to summarize the story in your memory and see how much you remember. How much do you remember about the main characters? Such exercises as these can do a lot to tell us how much attention-loss is responsible for our not making memories.

If you find imagining things in pictures difficult, a good method for practice is to play a movie that you know well, turn your back to the screen (or turn the screen round out of sight) and just listen to the audio. As you listen, imagine what is going on in the movie. Practicing this usually brings improvement fast.

Interestingly, regular television watchers have much worse attention spans than those who don't watch TV often, but the same is not true of internet use, gamers or movie viewers.

You can begin working on congruous association by using input control. The feedback process that forms new associations (sometimes known as 'Neural Darwinism') is supposed to ensure that patterns producing thoughts and behaviors that help the organism to thrive are laid down permanently in eidetic memory while those that are useless fade, but association development is not a rigid system because we are so adaptable, it blindly trusts that our input is going to be sensible and reliable. Consequently, if any input constantly tells the brain that something is true or beneficial, even if it blatantly isn’t, the brain will tend to unconsciously believe it.

In Input Control you should start to avoid input that deliberately makes false claims or associations about anything (for example in order to coerce you into buying it or believing it).

For different persons this may include avoiding TV adverts, magazines, salespeople, teachers, workmates, priests, parents, relatives, politicians and religious fanatics. Your choice of what and whom to ignore, what and whom is ‘true or not true’, must be judged by you; that’s what taking control means; but you should adjust your own input accordingly. If something is not likely to be true, you need to stop paying attention to it because you're wasting memory space.

In making these changes, we must realize not only that we cannot believe everything we hear, but that sometimes we cannot continue to believe stuff we heard or were taught previously. That sounds obvious, but false associations develop when we are told something is true (often in good faith) when in fact it isn’t. For examples, if we are taught to associate “quiet children” with “studious”, “intelligent” and “good”, or to associate “fat” with “prosperous”, “robust” and “healthy”, we will make false associations in perception, memory and behavior.

Notice how these trains of false association in brain networks can lead to the decline of both the brain and biology's other body systems via wrong behavior.

Likewise you must look at what you've been told in the past because continuing to believe nonsense like 'no pain no gain' or 'cereal food is good for you' will never make sense to the unconscious mind because it's not true.

We have to change our minds about any false associations that are deleterious to our health as well as making sure no more get programmed in. You may find as you progress with exploring your associations that you no longer believe some things that you used to, or may believe some things that you didn’t used to, due to what you have now found out. Don't worry; this is a natural result of your mind maturing, (and it’s the same reason you no longer believe in the tooth faery, monsters under the bed and Santa Claus.) Changing our minds about some things is just part of developing intelligence.

False associations will fade if you start to practise congruous association. If you have any very weak networks you should do exercises to build them up a little before practising, but N3’s inner model favors association factors that make sense on all levels, and natural associations do this.

The feedback loops between brain and environment are a bootstrap operation of excellence; even the simplest simulated network can achieve phenomenal complexity in a short time if it is programmed to replicate patterns that are beneficial and throw out those that are not (for example, look at the speed with which the newborn, given optimal conditions, wires up the entire visual cortex.) So you can trust your own intelligence to make good associations for you, once given the prompt. By shifting towards more congruous association you are providing this prompt; you will help the network wire itself up as intended, enabling faster processing and greater clarity.

Congruous association is something we will be learning more about over the next few tutorials, and there will be plenty of exercises and information along the way.




Random congruous association

Here’s an example of how core concepts contribute their parts to a memory.

We’ve chosen the random subject “Beethoven’s 6th”. [You can use this technique to look for your own associations for any random subject]:


Keyword: “Beethoven’s 6th”

Matter associations: Human composer, sheet music, CD, musical instruments, preparing self to go to concert or relaxing at home

Space associations: environment where music is heard -auditorium, venue, location, place of origin

Density associations: affects neurotransmission & emotion/imagination

Time associations: is a procedure, music, creativity, involves tool use, timing, cooperation and regulation, orchestra (group working in synchrony), concert dates & times, rectitude, tempo, rhythm, performance, attending with friends, social occasion

Energy associations: increases energy, inspires, motivates

Power associations: spiritually uplifting, empowering, produces synergy, decision to listen to beethoven


Now, can you guess which one will be the dominant core category? Did you shortcut the guess because you already know than network 4 [time] processes most of music?

Now, see if you can think of some congruous associations and the main core concepts for the items below [answers at end of tutorial]:

A computer


A cave


A Bavarian cyclist’s jockstrap




Imagination & Prediction


“It is poor sort of memory that only works backwards”, said the Queen.

(Lewis Carroll, “Through the Looking-Glass”)


In Tutorial 7 we learned that the same process which directs the growth of brain hardware is later re-employed to direct concept formation (perception), the learning cycle, and the behavior of mind software. In this tutorial we have seen how the process is employed in memory.

Here is a reminder of the process in learning & memory:

Learning cycle: Concentration - observation - modeling - practice - variation -coordination

Memory processes: Receiving - perceiving - encoding - consolidation - retrieval - reconsolidation

Don't make the mistake of thinking that COMP is this process; COMP is only the employment of the process for the purposes of learning. What we want to look at here is how prediction is involved in the process.

Obviously, initial perception is an essential foundation for both learning and memory processing. Any event attended to in the here and now leads to the activation of other associated memories as a part of that perception.

This seems obvious if we think about it, because it is why we can remember things outside of the context of which they were established, and through stimuli other than those that were initially involved in the learning (such as a familiar smell) reminding us of a place and time and associated events.

What may not be so obvious is that most of this association remains unconscious. The hippo practises associational processing constantly and all events, every object or episode, is associated with related points in the inner model. That’s why, when we start understanding the inner model's (based on biology's) natural patterns of association, we can use them as a short cut to remembering anything; they form a universal mnemonic.

What is even less obvious is that perception in the here and now relies heavily on both the past (memory) AND the future (prediction). We call up concepts we know from the past and we imagine which ones the current percepts might match up to. We predict which ones are most likely to be correct and imagine them (render & project an inner image via the mirror neuron system) in order to compare the two in greater detail.

This act of 'imagining which ones are most probably correct', is prediction. We do it constantly. At every millisecond during reading these words, we are predicting what words might come nexus six! lingerie! ballroom dancing! See what I mean? When it doesn't make sense, we get confused. What we do from there depends on anxiety levels; if we are anxious we get worried, and if we are not anxious we tend to laugh at our own confusion (and humor such as Monty Python plays on this.)

This type of prediction is not just 'guessing'; or random decision like that made based on the rolling of dice. It is probability calculation, based on both inductive and deductive data. The 'dice' are loaded with our own personal associations and the full weight of knowledge and experience. Every association that we have learned about any person, place or set of circumstances is brought to the mental courtroom for current judgment of 'harmful' or 'beneficial' and the unconscious mind associated these with 'wrong' and 'right' (and this is in fact the root of congruous morality; something we shall discuss in later tutorials.)

Mammals use prediction even in order to move. The activity of head direction cells predicts, 95 ms in advance, what the animal's head direction will be.[62]

Predicting all the time increases efficiency. To avoid having to carefully take in and remember every last bit of visual or audible stimulus it encounters, the mind quickly acquaints itself with the world's predictability and redundancy, takes advantage of the fact that reality is predictable, and pays less attention to parts it can predict. [77]

We are applying unconscious prediction to all input even in order to perceive it. It is an all-pervading process and when we realize this, it is hard to think of intelligence in the old, behavior-based way. Intelligence, now that we can examine it, is not conforming to our old predictions as a behavior-based system; it is evermore revealing the properties of a predictive system, and viewing it as such enables predictions that prove true.

Imagination is either working out what's most likely to be happening (perception), what probably did happen (memory), what's likely to happen next (prediction), and and what would be the best response for directing what happens next to get things to go the way intelligence wants them to go.

The same process is working in multiple contexts: in the physiological context, cells have receivers for input signals. When there are enough points of similarity between signal and receptor, the cell responds with the associated output behavior.

In the context of human awareness (the everyday reality we are accustomed to living and moving in), human beings have senses for input signals. When there are enough points of similarity between signals and senses, the human being responds with the associated output behavior.

The mind is ultimately predicting our best imagined recommended behavior in the here & now for its own success and thriving; increasing its own ability to interact with more and more different events and situations. That's what it was designed to do, and anytime things get in the way of it doing that, things will go wrong.

This is how we are able to adapt to change and interact successfully with the unexpected; the mind makes predictions, interacts, then checks to see how things turned out. This constant feedback cycle keeps us 'tuned in' to the results of our interactions so that we can constantly assess and upgrade ourselves.

The same predictive process goes on for all data regardless of their memory or importance weighting.[64] In a sense, imagination is predicting all the time, because to give a clear picture of the here-and-now experience it has to guess what is going on out there using information only from the senses (which has formed the entire content of memory) and memory itself.

Imagination has to guess what's happening, what did happen, what might happen and what might be the best response to all of it. In this sense, imagination IS prediction. All it does is assess probablilities and present them in formats that all systems can use for processing.

So now you can see why imagination relies on a database of congruous associations for accurate prediction about reality, and why input control is so important. If imagination is predicting and remembering using data from a database full of associations that are nonsense, the results will often be nonsense, our decisions and behavior will make no sense and results will be disappointing.

So if we think that our mind is making bad decisions, it's a good idea to look at where it's getting its information from. Garbage in...


Input control and congruous association in hacking the genome

Here we can clearly see the impact of input control. Think about it. This means that whatever imagination believes is going on, that data is being used to affect changes on our genome according to what is predicted "necessary".

Getting the imagination to predict that weight loss is neccessary, for example, is a straightforward matter of altering blood chemistry so it carries the chemical signals saying "stop storing fat". This hack is possible via nutrition alone, so it's an easy one.

Not so easy would be convincing the genome that you need a tail, for example. How would you send the signals to the genome that a tail was necessary? Centuries of practice at trying to hang onto tree branches with the crack of your bum? Probably faster would be to stimulate the neuromuscular junctions around the vestigial tail (the bottom of your coccyx), but we're not recommending you try the experiment for the very reason that you may just get an unexpected result. Humans do carry the gene for a tail and now and again one has to be removed from a baby, so this is just an example okay?

Often the key to hacking genes on or off lies with frequency of input. Making a memory requires gene transcription which is turned on by your interest in something and its importance. When we imagine something is interesting and important, the brain will assume the necessity of putting it into memory for us, signal the genome, and off we go.

Timed learning explores the optimal frequency of input, and will be particular to you within a certain range. We'll look more closely into this later.

Wild thing…you make my heart sing…

The full development of wiring for the early nets of association and memory in the brain needs two kinds of experience -both full natural sensory input and motion. Motion brings with it the necessity for awareness of location, in both time and space. We need to remember where things are, as well as what they are and when they are likely to happen. Even the simplest of creatures can remember the direction of food, safety, warmth and danger –but only if it has been allowed to explore its environment in the first place. Apparent necessity is always the first cause of growth. The brain needs to think that something is needed in order to start developing it (our perceptual templates, once triggered, convince the brain of that need.)

The knock-on effects of wrong input were first noticed (as are many things in neuroscience) in the behavior of lab rats, and were one of the keys to discovering why lab rats have quite different neurophysiology, psychology, and even genetic expression, to wild rats.

The importance of spatial exploration showed up in the fact that lab rats raised in cages, despite having lots of previous practice at running mazes, still couldn’t learn a new maze faster than a wild rat (with no such previous experience). After eliminating possible hunger as motivation, this is still the case. Because you’ve studied spatial memory now, you’ve probably guessed that the wild rats have developed bigger hippos and better spatial navigation due to growing up in an environment with the correct input, and you’d be right –excellence in spatial learning & memory skills needs freedom of movement and exploration, and obviously the wild rats had gotten plenty of it.

What really made us sit up and take notice though was the discovery that wild rats totally lacked the lab rats’ famous penchant for drug addiction [notably cocaine, morphine and alcohol] and also had much lower blood/cortisol levels. Lab rats, given the choice, will self-administer neuroactive chemicals, preferring water with intoxicants to that without. Wild rats are happy to sample both, will try the drugs now and again on an irregular basis, but on the whole choose plain water 95% of the time.

This preference for being straight wanes if they are kept in cages for more than a few days, at which point their immunity also plummets and their blood cortisol rises. This makes sense; their freedom has been unaccustomedly restricted and they have become anxious in a new unknown environment. But this does not explain why the lab rats, which had never lived in the wild, had both high cortisol and the tendency to addiction right from the start.

By human standards they had a “better quality of life” than the wild rats; they were well fed, cleanly housed, disease-free and they had no predators. All their physical needs were taken care of for their whole lives, and they had exercise facilities, puzzles to solve and things to keep them occupied. Yet they were [comparatively] slow learners and they got addicted to drugs.

The lab rats were unconsciously anxious, not because their freedom had been taken away but because biology’s triggers for their natural neural development had been replaced by false ones, just as ours have. And they’d then wisely ingest anything that reduced the anxiety and helped bring on the relaxation response, much like we do.


When biology's ideas of what's 'important' are at odds with society's, as is most often the case, the conscious mind ends up believing something that contradicts with what the unconscious mind is aware of. We get incongruous association unless we stop taking one of them seriously and surpress any data that contradicts the other. If the mind is running society's ideal self data, our environment is impoverished, biology must be ignored and repressed, and this results in dysfunction, illness and decline.

The unconscious mind can detect when incongruous association is going on, but it cannot speak or express its knowledge in words; the only way it can communicate with the conscious mind is via imagination and emotion. Its "error message" for incongruous data therefore comes (in a healthy person) as alarm, suspicion that something is wrong, and concern for our own wellbeing. This should prompt us to pay closer attention to what we are doing and saying and thinking about, and intelligence soon works out what it was that didn't make sense (usually new or unfamiliar information or activities).

In an unhealthy (ie, anxious) person the result of incongruous error signaling is either anger or depression, either with or without paranoia, AND an exacerbation of anxiety as the problem fails to go away.

Basically if imagination fails to match up ANY belief, behavior, or belief system (percept) to what biology unconsciously knows to be reality (concept on inner model), and the input keeps saying that it is true, unresolved unconscious ideological dilemmas cause us to become dysfunctional and our behavior becomes dysfunctional. This is the road to decline and illness.

Biology expects the conscious mind to be intelligent (why should it believe otherwise?) It expects we will have no problem understanding the conscious scientific details of these unconscious sensorimotor basics. When we throw stuff at it like, '2+2 can equal 5', or 'magic goblins cure arthritis', the unconscious assumes we wish to make use of the process known as 'placebo effect'. If input keeps insisting that 2+2 CAN equal 5, or that these goblins are real material goblins doing real supernatural magic; and repressing any thoughts to the contrary, the unconscious has effectively had it's access to the mental internet blocked. Everything it knows is real is being denied, but there is no new evidence for why and no coherent explanation of this alternate math-bending, goblin-filled reality is being produced. In plain language, it's confused, and whenever we're confused we are vulnerable to deceit and coercion and the 'superstition glitch' (see tutorial 7).

Everything new that is considered must either be recognisable enough to fit in with concepts the mind already knows, or provide experiential proof for its validity as a new concept that fits in with everything else and makes sense according to the known. The unconscious is open minded enough to believe that previously unknown things or circumstances could indeed exist because life on earth is full of strange examples of unexpected new discoveries, but it needs enough data to fit new possibilities in with what it already knows. In other words, you have to demonstrate the maths or show it the goblin, or it will continue to fail to make sense out of the new input.

If the unconscious is blocked from presenting conflicting input and an incongruous, anxiety-based model is adopted, everything goes downhill from there. Things will seem to make sense but on analysis will not, and a sense of inability to cope and vague distress permeates every behavior.

Which model of reality the unconscious eventually adops depends totally on input. If the balance of input is from reality, the unconscious will adopt biology's congruous default model designed for our wellbeing.

If the balance of input is false, untrue or unhealthy, the unconscious will build an anxiety-based, incongruous model including the false 'fact' that it seems inadequate to cope alone, understand things or make good decisions, therefore you must rely on others to make decisions for you; for examples: teachers, parents, relatives, lovers, friends, anyone in a white coat or a suit, priests, anyone with lots of money, online agony aunts or favorite celebrities.

With an incongruous model of reality thinking for ourselves tends to be unconsciously discouraged as it tends to make us anxious when we try to 'make sense' out of life and relationships and events. According to our model they don't make sense, there is no explanation for many outcomes and no prediction of many harmful events. A lot of stuff seems to happen by accident. Quite naturally this makes us feel vulnerable, just like we would if we had physical accidents all the time.

A congruous model gives us the confidence of knowing what makes sense and what doesn't, and that's a great advantage when trying to compute real life outcomes with a prediction engine.


Rabbits in space –processing in N3


Between them from sensory input N1 & 2 process all the basics of experience. We often lump them together when discussing networks because they share so many tasks, but each has its own main area of processing, and for once this is going to be relevant, because what each network processes for perception and stores in memory is related to its core association.

N1 processes material relevant to sensorimotor memory; it specializes in collectiing and categorizing information about ourselves and our immediate surroundings; for example what physical material or object we are dealing with and what condition it is in –basically concrete material things.

Take for example our white rabbit. For her, 'concrete material things' means herself, her body, her sensations, her shelter, nest or burrow and the physical material experiences that occur there, such as sleeping, giving birth, keeping herself and her home and any baby rabbits clean and orderly, grooming herself, and avoiding any dangerous material substances.

White rabbit's network 2 incorporates the space in which she operates and events within that space (her context), her territory and environment, and behaviors of herself and others in that context, for example, looking for other rabbits to have sex with and searching for food and looking for other rabbits to have sex with and exploring new territory and watching out for predators and looking for other rabbits to have sex with (rabbits like sex).

So N2 needs spatial memory, so that she doesn’t get lost and can remember where food, dangers, or hot rabbits are likely to be.

This gives her all the processing she needs for the basics of simple animal behaviors “serene & clean” and “seek & squeak” as far as ‘stimulus-response’ goes –the movement of objects (in this case rabbits) in space is what behavior IS, even for the simplest of creatures. But it is N3 that enables us (and rabbits) to really start thinking about and making sense of the world.

By the time something even gets to be a memory, it is already two steps away from reality (it has been copied and compressed twice) and resolution has been lost. This doesn’t usually matter, because we don’t need all the intricate details of every event, so we compress to just save the relevant ones. Attention is like a Dolby system that cuts out trivia and retains what’s relevant, reducing the overall bit density while retaining the essentials.




You can test the compression:


Which pair of underpants or socks were you wearing two weekends ago? What is the exact wording of the first sentence of this tutorial?

Did you have any underwear on at all two weekends ago? What main subject is this tutorial about? -See what I mean?


Bit density in memory can be adjusted by weighting information. You can also test the difference between compression with 'light' or 'heavy' weighting:

Read this news report just once:

1. Ms Marsha Breeze-Sutherland, formerly of the Buddhist Ashram at Coolanka, and Mr Jeremy Hollander-Fische, professional musician familiar as the guitarist from rock band "Hook", today (the twenty second of March, a sunday), celebrated the birth of their first offspring; a daughter, in the village of Hardly Cross.


Now cover the page or turn away and try to write down the news report word for word, missing out any words you are not sure of.

See how much information your memory retained? It's not easy is it? This report is pretty boring if you don't know the people involved, and your memory is not particularly interested in it. Many of us even put 'Mrs' as the first word when we tried this!


Now read the news report below, just once, and repeat the procedure:

2. Ex nun & rock star Marsha & Jeremy celebrate daughter! They were hardly cross in Hardly Cross today when Jez Fische (guitarist with "Hook") and hot ex-buddhist nun Marsha welcomed their daughter with a massive free-for-all party. March 22 was chosen "Not because it's a Sunday but because it's the spring equinox", explained Jeremy.


Chances are this time you'll do much better. There is repetition (you have heard the story before) and this version has more emotional weighting. You're more likely to remember most of the facts from this one with greater ease. Even though this latter version contains more words, memort was more able to cram more information into fewer 'bits'.

So when you have anything to learn that seems boring or 'dry', add your own weighting. Write your own notes to emphasize important points and associate them with things that matter to you in real life, as though you were writing to explain to someone else why this material matters.

You can turn compression off with various hacks, among them TMS, induced- or self-hypnosis, and even just determined regular practice; and often access much greater detail. This is a technique that is part of the training for espionage, and practiced well it leads to a photographic memory. In advanced NH the eventual aim is to be able to turn it up and down, on and off as required.

For baking your noodle later on:

The mind is the ultimate prediction-engine, and it relies more than anything else on imagination. It's going to be difficult for most people to change their concept of imagination's status-shift from 'capacity for fantasy' to 'basis of all major mental functions', but it's looking like this is very likely to be the case.

A societal paranoia about creativity and imagination is merely the result of front loaders being scared of what they don't understand, just as a societal paranoia about science is rear loaders being scared of what they don't understand (ie, intellect, evidence and analysis).

Imaginative, creative people are used to being told their ideas are ludicrous or impossible, battling to do all the research without funding because its fun anyway, then watching them play out while some dude flies a plane, cures a disease or lands on the moon or something at which point everyone says it was a good idea and funds the building and selling of products it has resulted in instead of further research.

What spooks society out is that creative people just go right on being creative regardless of how much money or qualifications they haven't got (and sometimes, perversely, in inverse proportion to it). If you're a materially wealthy person with a poor imagination and no creativity at all, it can seem not only threatening but downright spooky watching someone with no resources pull ideas out of nowhere like rabbits from a hat. It's like MAGIC (and that equals woo woo, so its nonsense)...yet here it is, happening before their very eyes. And of course, their unconscious knows full well that it should be able to do it too, so it takes some real repression to avoid the ideological dilemma and the fearful question 'so why can't I?'

Consequently the number of people who were initially ridiculed for now-famous work has been legion. This problem is known about and has even been tested for [68]. So don't expect the new imagination paradigm to go mainstream anytime soon.

Let us rather examine it ourselves: Consider this:

Imagination uses images from current perception and prediction to enable memory, images from memory and prediction to enable current perception, and images from current perception and memory to enable prediction.

This interrelationship of core processes in N3 supports all cognition, and defines N3 as a major part of the brain's CPU, modulating multiple subprocesses in all networks.

We cannot perceive reality without imagining it. Virtually all unconscious thought is graphic imagery, and all conscious thought is based on its conclusions about and portrayal of reality.

All we have to do is stop "drawing" the wrong conclusions. Imagine that!





NHA Guide to Methods & Technology


Chemicals, supplements & herbs for memory

Traditional allopathic medicine relies heavily on the plant kingdom for its resources so from now on, think like a chemist... it's a bit weird when someone is regularly paying $50 for a jar of tablets whose chief active constituents grow (or could) in abundance in their garden. If you have nowhere to grow herbs it can still be a lot cheaper (and have fewer side effects) using dried herbs. Most herbs can be bought online. You can research further details of any herb online by yourself and also how to make herb teas or tinctures, so here we're just telling you which ones are useful for what.

Herbs for the brain

Nervine tonics [Strengthen and boost the nervous system. In cases of shock, exhaustion or nervous debility, the nervine tonics strengthen and feed the tissues directly; they can for many replace tranquillisers or other drugs to ease anxiety or depression.]


Oats, Damiana , Skullcap , Vervain , Wood betony


Nervine relaxants [improve anxiety reduction]


Black cohosh, Black haw, California poppy, Chamomile, Cramp bark, Hops, Hyssop, Jamaican dogwood, Lady’s slipper, Lavender, Lime blossom, Marijuana, Mistletoe, Motherwort, Pasque flower, Passion flower, Rosemary, St. John’s Wort, Skullcap, Valerian


Nervine stimulants


Kola Nut, Coffee, Mate tea, Black tea, Peppermint, Chinese Ginseng, Ginkgo Biloba


Throughout the day, your brain fills up with adenosine, a chemical connected with mental fatigue. Caffeine blocks the brain's adenosine receptors, countering the chemical's dulling effects. It also inhibits an enzyme that regulates cellular energy. To maximize alertness and minimize jitters, keep those receptors covered with frequent small doses rather than a onetime blast. Test subjects reported that periodic small shots made them feel clearheaded and calm, both of which enhance mental performance.

If you smoke tobacco the effects of caffeine only last half as long. If you’re on oral contraceptives, the effects last twice as long. Caffeine is addictive and does have withdrawal symptoms.


Rosemary may have an effect on the brain when the scent is inhaled. Some people swear that just sniffing rosemary wakes up their brain. We’re waiting to see research on this, but in the meantime, what can it hurt to try it? If you have rosemary in your spice rack or garden, go give it a sniff and let us know.


Cholinergics/ acetylcholinesterase inhibitors [stimulate production/ duration of acetylcholine]


Chinese Moss [Huperzine A], Nicotine [tobacco]


Hypnotics [hypnotics will induce sleep; not hypnosis]


Hops, Jamaican dogwood, Mistletoe, Passion flower, Skullcap, Valerian, Wild lettuce


Oxytocics [stimulate production of oxytocin]


Beth root, Blue cohosh, Golden seal, Rue, Squaw vine


Sedatives [Calm the nervous system and reduce anxiety throughout the body]


Black cohosh, Black haw, Bladderwrack, Blue cohosh, Blood root, Boldo, Bugleweed, Chamomile, Cowslip, Cramp bark, Hops, Jamaican dogwood, Lady’s slipper, Lobelia, Motherwort, Pasque flower, Passion flower, Red clover, Red poppy, Saw palmetto, Skullcap, St. John’s Wort, Valerian, Wild Cherry, Wild lettuce, Wild Yam


Serotonergics [stimulate production of serotonin]


Griffonia Simplicifolia



Supplements for memory


B Vitamins especially B3 [Nicotinamide belongs to a class of compounds called HDAC inhibitors, which have been shown to protect the central nervous system], Vitamin D has been shown to improve learning speed & memory [78], Gotu Kola, Lecithin, Omega 3


Foods for memory


Blueberries, Broccoli, Figs, White meats, Game, Oily fish, Raspberries, Strawberries, Walnuts, hazelnuts, most fruit & veg, unpasteurised cheese and on the whole, a low GI diet.


The best foods for human memory (and mental health in general) are the foods your great-great-great-to-the-power-of-lots grandparents lived on, in hunter-gatherer times (ie, for 99.99% of human history), which paleoarcheology shows led them to live to a healthy old age before the advent of cereal farming (which more than halved human lifespan until modern medicine was able to offset the physical effects).

Fish is one of the brain foods that has both immediate and long-term benefits. The fish oils help keep arteries clean, preventing a major cause of brain problems: reduced blood flow to the brain. Many types of fish contain lots of omega-3 fatty acids. Plain tuna from the can may be the easiest and cheapest way to include fish in your diet. Otherwise, wild-caught salmon, trout or mackerel are a great source.

Be aware, though, that many fish - both wild caught and farmed - now contain mercury, which is a brain toxin. So unless you are eating trout caught from high mountain streams with pure water, you should probably limit your fish intake to no more than three times weekly. That amount has been shown to be good for the brain.


Vegetables are a great source of beneficial vitamins, fiber and antioxidants. Vitamins nourish the brain cells. Antioxidants prevent or slow oxidative damage to our body, including the brain. When cells use oxygen, they produce "free radicals," harmful by-products which cause damage. As "free radical scavengers," antioxidants prevent and repair the damage done. Finally, fiber reduces the build-up of toxins in the body (and brain) by keeping the body cleaned out.


Fruits are a great food for all the same reasons as vegetables. Some of the fruits that are richest in antioxidants are: blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, cherries, plums, figs, apricots, red grapes, peaches and nectarines. Though many do not think of them as one, avocados are a fruit, and in addition to being rich in antioxidants they contain a lot of protein.

Fruit can be expensive in some parts of the world. If that is true where you are, you may want to check out the prices of frozen fruit, which is often cheaper, growing your own or getting reduced price 'damaged' fruit and juicing it up for a morning "smoothie."


One of the best brain foods is plain water. Dehydration is more common than most think, with mild headaches one of the first symptoms. Your brain is about 80 percent water, and it needs regular small fluid intake to function at its best. Longer term, even slight dehydration can raise cortisol levels, damaging your brain over time.

Just as harmful is hyper-hydration which often happens to people unaccustomed to hot climates abroad, and nightclubbers high on 'E's. Over-hydration causes the brain to swell and is the cause of many deaths blamed on MDMA, as we explain in the section on MDMA below.


Chemicals for memory


Newest kids on the block:

Neuroprotectives & enhancers


Selegiline [deprenyl]

An irreversible and (relatively) selective MAO-B inhibitor. The enzyme Monoamine oxidase (MAO) has two main forms, 'A' & 'B'. They are coded by separate genes. MAO can be inhibited reversibly or irreversibly; and selectively or unselectively. MAO type-A preferentially deaminates serotonin & moradrenaline and also (non-selectively) dopamine. Type B metabolises dopamine, phenylethylamines, and anandamide.


At amounts up to around 10 mg or so daily, selegiline retains its selectivity for the type-B MAO iso-enzyme; but it is also a weak reversible inhibitor of the type-A MAO iso-enzyme.

Selegiline inhibits the catecholamine-releasing effect of tyramine. This ensures that low-dosage selegiline does not induce the hypertensive "deadly cheese effect".

2 x 5 mg daily of selegiline irreversibly inhibits over 90% of MAO-B in the basal ganglia, the location of over 80% of dopamine in the human brain. This level of MAO-B inhibition leads to a 40%-70% increase in synaptic dopamine.

Selegiline has immune-system-boosting and anti-neurodegenerative effects, it may also be neuroprotective and act as an antidepressant.

Its use increases the level of tyrosine hydroxylase, HGH, cerebral nitrid oxide and the production of key interleukins. Selegiline offers protection against DNA damage and oxidative stress by hydroxyl and peroxyl radical trapping; and against excitotoxic damage from excess glutamate. In addition, selegiline stimulates the release of superoxide dismutase (SOD). SOD is a key enzyme which helps to quench the production of free radicals. Potentially, selegiline may prevent or reverse iron-induced memory impairment.


Sodium Butyrate (sodium phenylbutyrate/Buphenyl /Ammonaps.)

Much in the not-so-public eye lately, sodium butyrate has long been used in epigenetics research labs for prompting gene expression or inhibition. In 2011 sodium phenylbutyrate came up trumps treating both parkinsons disease and advanced alzheimers. It turns on a gene (DJ-1) that can protect dopamine neurons, and may be a good target for NH research into memory enhancement and longevity in the healthy.[66]


So new it doesn't have a name yet: NSI-189

Neuralstem, Inc. announced in late 2011 that it has been approved by the FDA to advance to Phase Ib in testing its new 'neuroregenerative compound', NSI-189, on humans for the treatment of major depressive disorder. NSI-189 is one of four proprietary new chemical entities that stimulate new neuron growth in the hippocampus, but corporate lips appear to be sewn shut with regard to its content.

NSI-189 stimulated neurogenesis of human hippocampus-derived neural stem cells in-vitro. In healthy normal adult mice, NSI-189 stimulated neurogenesis in the hippocampus and significantly increased its volume, apparently by increasing its synaptic network after 28 days of daily oral administration. In mouse models of depression, NSI-189 significantly improved behavioral responses associated with depression. In humans, NSI-189 may reverse the human hippocampal atrophy seen in MDD and other disorders and reverse their symptoms.

Bear in mind the neuralstem program has received significant support from both DARPA and the National Institutes of Health and it would very much like to continue receiving this support, so this is one to keep an eye on for side effects that may have been swept quietly beneath the underfunded carpet.


Other drugs that alter neurochemistry



What it does

Possible side effects


Thought to optimize levels of dopamine and norepinephrine, enhancing concentration and turning mundane tasks into wondrous ones. Often prescribed to ADHD patients.

Addiction, headaches, insomnia, Tourette's-like symptoms, heart attack


Seems to boost release of glutamate, speeding neurotransmission and improving memory. Not a ton of evidence, though.

Anxiety, agitation, insomnia, dizziness, epigastric heaviness (feeling full)


An Alzheimer's drug that may also enhance memory in healthy adults. Thought to reduce the breakdown of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that helps relay messages around the brain.

Nausea, diarrhea, fainting


Triggers the release of dopamine. Brief/single use can increase concentration and creative output. Prolonged/regular use can also make you stupid and crazy.

Parkinson's-like symptoms, addiction, stroke, psychosis, prison, death


A narcolepsy medication that improves focus, pattern recognition, and short-term memory. The exact mechanism of action is still unclear.


Chest pain, nausea, headache, life-threatening rash


Chemically similar to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Spurs faster interaction between nerve cells in the brain, aiding memory formation and attention.

Addiction, cancer, social isolation (depending on delivery mechanism)


Originally used as an antidepressant. May elevate levels of cyclic adenosine monophosphate to boost memory. Improves cognition (in rats).

Headache, nausea, intense vomiting


Produced naturally in the hypothalamus gland and used in the formation of new memories. Shown to help users learn more effectively. Prescribed as a drug for diabetes insipidus.

Angina, nausea, wheezing, belching, coma



  • Tobacco, amphetamines, modafinil.

If a bad memory is caused by difficulties paying attention and concentrating, some people have found certain drugs can help them, notably tobacco and amphetamines, also modafinil. The first two are seriously strong and if you don’t have to indulge it’s best not to, and all three work only in the short term. Amphetamines stimulate production of norepinephrine. Modafinil could be useful if the occasion demands wakefulness and alertness and you have to miss sleep time. (Missing sleep time is not something we would recommend, but sometimes shit happens.)

Tobacco has complex effects on neurotransmission. In small doses it has a mood-elevating effect due to increasing dopamine and norepinephrine release, leading to better psychological performance and enhanced attention. It also increases efficiency of acetylcholine release, enhancing memory and attention. However, it contains many other chemicals that are local irritants and inflammatories (and this is true whether it is smoked, chewed, snuffed or otherwise imbibed. Marijuana offsets some of these irritants, so paradoxically it is safer to smoke a joint than a cigarette! A second problem with tobacco is that it increases the likelihood of blockages and problems in the circulatory system (heart disease, stroke etc). Small amounts of alcohol offset these problems, but the habitual smoker can find keeping things balanced and in moderation is complex, particularly if not on a low-GI diet.

What’s more, too much tobacco causes high levels of carbon monoxide in the blood, reducing the oxygen supply to the brain. This can be offset by taking digoxin or glyceryl trinitrate, but none of this solves the problem of extra free radicals created by almost all of these drugs.

None of this, however, is as harmful as anxiety. If you’re using tobacco as an anxiolytic, bear all the above in mind, and remember if you stop, you’ll have to replace it with something, otherwise the anxiety will kill you long before the tobacco would have.



Marijuana, cocaine, MDMA & psychoactives

The effects of many recreational drugs are far from simple. It’s simple to say ‘in a healthy brain, cannabis increases dopamine and some endorphin release’ but in fact it does a whole lot of other things as well and what's more, what it does to you it may not do to someone else!


With complex chemicals like tobacco, cannabis, SSRI’s and MDMA the effects are widely varied across individuals. MDMA is known to increase oxytocin, coke interferes with both dopamine and serotonin, and LSD can give you an awful time if your dopamine is too high. You really do have to make sure of purity too. One universal tip for all drug users: the less anxious you are the more likely it is to be a good and fun learning experience, as long as you’re sure of [a] exactly what it is and [b] how much is safe.

Research has found that specific elements of marijuana can be good for the aging brain by reducing inflammation there and possibly even stimulating the formation of new brain cells. THC joins nicotine, alcohol and caffeine as agents that, in moderation, have shown some protection against inflammation in the brain that might translate to better memory late in life.[61]

There are some substances that millions of people for thousands of years have used in billions of doses, and inevitably patterns emerge.
The brain's endocannabinoid system is involved in memory as well as physiological processes associated with appetite, mood and pain response. This research is also showing that receptors in this system can influence brain inflammation and the production of new neurons, or brain cells. Could people smoking marijuana help prevent Alzheimer's disease if the disease is in their family? More data from places where it is legal would be very useful!

It is already know that overuse of cannabis is a definite no-no for short term memory (not to mention the accompanying paranoia).




promotes the production of norepinephrine and oxytocin, but with overuse again leads to paranoia and confusion. A danger is under- or over-hydration, either of which is seriously harmful to the brain in general. The safe way is to sip small amounts of liquids regularly, not wait until you’re dying of thirst and then knock back several pints! Irresponsibility about hydration is responsible for most ecstasy deaths and users should wise up about hydration. The SAS survival guide tells us the following:


Symptoms of early or mild dehydration include:

  • flushed face

  • extreme thirst, more than normal or unable to drink

  • dry, warm skin

  • cannot pass urine or reduced amounts, dark, yellow

  • dizziness made worse when you are standing (head rushes)

  • weakness

  • cramping in the arms and legs

  • cracked lips, dry, itchy eyes

  • generally unwell, sleepy or irritable

  • headaches

  • dry mouth, dry tongue; with thick saliva.

Symptoms of moderate to severe dehydration include:

  • low blood pressure

  • fainting

  • severe muscle contractions in the arms, legs, stomach, and back

  • convulsions

  • a bloated stomach

  • heart failure

  • sunken dry eyes, with few or no tears

  • skin loses its firmness and looks wrinkled

  • lack of elasticity of the skin (when a bit of skin lifted up stays folded and takes a long time to go back to its normal position)

  • rapid and deep breathing - faster than normal

  • fast, weak pulse 

If you get any of these symptoms you should rehydrate slowly, drinking no more than half a cup of water at a time and leaving 15 minutes between sips. Stop all physical activity and sit somewhere cool. Do not go to sleep whilst dehydrated. It’s handy to keep a few dioralyte sachets in your med kit and take one if you have symptoms. These reset your electrolyte balance and make recovery quicker.


  • LSD

    binds to serotonin receptors in the brain. It can be useful for enhancing eidetic memory, imagination and creativity, but is hopeless for declarative memory. An excellent guide to it in detail is here:


and we recommend the erowid site in general if you need to know anything about plants, herbs & drugs in detail.

  • Alcohol

Good for the circulation [breaks down cholesterol] in small doses, but usually not a good drug of choice for NH. Widely varied results depend on current brain chemistry and environmental stimulus, make us prone to misunderstanding, and generally dense when it’s drunk in excess. It encourages wallowing in sentiment in those who are anxious yet can inspire courage and strength in those who are not. In public bars, be careful that the problems of others on alcohol don’t become yours! - Enjoy with caution, moderation, and preferably at home or with trusted friends.



Assignments & assessments


Practical Assignment 1

  • To augment/improve congruous association generally

Part one:

You will need a small box, a shoebox or cookie tin is a good size. Fill it with a random collection of small objects from inside your home and around the nearby area (say 50).

Pick out any object. What associations does it suggest to you? Keep that association, preferably your first thought, in your working memory. Look through the other objects and connect this association to another object. Pick it out. What new association does this second object offer you? Connect it with a third object, and go on like this until all the objects are connected. As you connect each object take them out of the box and place them in line on a table top. Repeat this 3 times with the same objects, but in different orders and making different types of connections.

If you find this difficult to understand: start by associating objects via their concrete properties such as similar color/size/shape/texture/weight. Progress to associating them by location/use concepts like 'used for similar tasks' or 'normally kept in same room', then advance to 'reminds me of the same kind of images'.


Part two:

(Using the same box of objects)

Conscious categorisation: consider the following types of animal behavior:

hygiene & self care, grooming

seeking food or mate, exploring

forming good relationships with allies, modeling

building, creating, nurturing, playing

assessing, displaying, analysing

planning, strategising, interaction


Pick out individual objects from the box one at a time and decide which types of animal behaviors they associate with most, and place the objects in groups according to these associations.

For your consideration: this last type of conscious categorization you did was probably the closest to how the unconscious mind does it.


Practical Assignment 2:

self assessment & troubleshooting memory

These tests may help give you a better idea of whether your memory problems are out of the ordinary or cause for concern. Keep in mind that this is just a simple overall test and does not indicate diagnosis. If the results give you concern, take steps NOW to address the problem; start memory exercises, check out your lifestyle and input, reduce anxiety, and seek an in-depth diagnosis if improvement doesn't occur within a week or two. Don't forget about memory problems!


Self assessment –memory

Grab your NH diary, and start a page with 6 sections, labeled as follows:

N1 sensorimotor

N2 spatial

N3 eidetic

N4 procedural

N5 declarative

N6 working


We’re going to go quickly through the areas of your memory and assess strengths [‘S’].

First, go look at the scores from your main Functional Assessment in tutorials 3 & 4.

Find the three networks with the highest ‘F’ [functional] scores. These networks are likely to have an advantage in memory so write one ‘S’ next to the relevant ones on your page.

Now, read the statements below and follow the instructions after each group of statements.


  • I have a good attention span

  • I practise sports, dancing, martial arts [or any sensorimotor skill] regularly

  • I make sure I get good quality sleep and nutrition

  • I don’t drink much alcohol and I don’t take sleeping pills


[For each statement in the section above that describes you, put one ‘S’ beside ‘N1 sensorimotor’, then continue]


  • I can remember faces really well, I always recognise people I’ve met before

  • If you show me a shape, I can usually also recognize it upside down or sideways

  • I remember stuff from long ago more clearly than recent stuff

  • I spent most of my time playing outdoors as a kid, and I still like to be outdoors now (‘Outdoors’ means feet on the earth, head beneath the sky. Being in a vehicle does not count as ‘outdoors’.)


[For each statement in the section above that describes you, put one ‘S’ beside ‘N2 spatial’, then continue]


  • I’m very good at navigating without a map, and I rarely get lost

  • I totally “get” magical and mystical stuff

  • I have perfect pitch

  • I remember recent stuff more clearly than stuff from long ago


[For each statement in the section above that describes you, put an ‘S’ beside ‘N3 eidetic’, then continue]:


  • Once I’ve had a go at performing a task, I rarely forget how to do it

  • I’m methodical, tidy and organized and I rarely lose things

  • If I don’t use a machine or a tool for a while, I still don’t forget the instructions

  • I learn pest if I’m shown, rather than told, how to do things


[For each statement in the section above that describes you, put an ‘S’ beside ‘N4 procedural’, then continue]:


  • I can remember most facts I read, even if I read them only once

  • I usually feel confident about the accuracy of my memory

  • I’m better at remembering written or verbal instructions than demonstrations

  • I’m aware that my memory of facts seems better than most, and I have a higher than average IQ


[For each statement in the section above that describes you, put an ‘S’ beside ‘N5 declarative’, then continue]:


  • I always remember people’s names, from right after we’re introduced

  • I can usually remember a phone number long enough to call back without writing it down

  • I rarely worry about anything

  • I’m aware of what sort of things I might forget, so I write them down


[For each statement in the section above that describes you, put an ‘S’ beside ‘N6 working’.]


Now look at your list, and see which networks have the most strengths. You can use strong networks to help out weaker ones, as we explain in the hacks below. You also now know which networks need the most work. Of the three networks with the lowest ‘S’ score, start working on the lowest numbered.

Troubleshooting Memory Test: (make a copy of the text below. Where direct answers are required, type or write them in on your copy.)

1. Read these words, but don’t try to memorize them: peach, computer, crow.

2. Read this address, but don’t try to memorize it:

Yoko Ramani
1643 Broadsway Crescent,
Kenmare, Eire.

3. [Type/write in your answer ‘Y’ or ‘N’.] Have you had more trouble than usual remembering what you've done for the past few weeks? [ ]

4. Has it been harder for you to remember lists recently? [ ]

5. Have you noticed a decline in your ability to calculate arithmetically in your head, such as adding a series of different quantities or making correct change? [ ]

6. Have you recently been forgetting to keep arrangements? [ ]

7. Have you suddenly had trouble remembering names? [ ]

8. Have you suddenly had trouble recognizing people you should know? [ ]

9. Have you had a hard time lately finding the right word you want to use? [ ]

10. Have you had recent trouble remembering how to do simple tasks such as using a kitchen appliance or a remote control? [ ]

11. Do memory lapses interfere with your functioning at work? [ ]

12. Do memory lapses interfere with your functioning at home? [ ]

13. Do memory lapses interfere with your functioning in social situations? [ ]

14. [type in the answers] Name the last three new people you met. [ 1 ] [ 2 ] [ 3 ]

15. Name five different foods & what areas of the world they are traditionally associated with. [1 ] [2 ] [3 ] [4 ] [5 ]

16. What was the main food you had for your biggest meal on each of the past two days? [1 ] [2 ]

17. What were the last two movies you watched? [1 ] [2 ]

18. Without looking back, write down the three words you were asked to read at the beginning of the quiz. [1 ] [2 ] [3 ]

19. Without looking back, write down the name and address you were asked to read at the beginning of the quiz. [ ]

20. Without going to look, what color is the floor in your bathroom? [ ]

Now check the answers to the last three questions.



Give yourself 1 point for each "no" answer for questions 3-13 (maximum 11 points)

Give yourself 1 point for every individual blank you correctly filled in for questions 14-20 (maximum 22 points)

Overall maximum score possible: 33

If you scored:

28-33 Congratulations! You have a better-than-average memory. Great potential for augmentation!

22-27 Pretty good, but you could probably benefit from some memory exercises.

15-21 Your memory is a bit weak; memory exercises should help you improve your memory.

0-14 Your memory may be compromised and you may want to consider getting a diagnostic evaluation. If you need help, there are contacts in the 'when things go wrong' section above.

For further testing for memory problems, check out the warning signs and what to do about it in the ‘WHEN THINGS GO WRONG' section above. 




Towards Entelechy

Logic will get you from A to Z; imagination will get you everywhere.

Intelligence is not the ability to store information, but to know where to find it.

Albert Einstein


Reality leaves a lot to the imagination.

John Lennon


Stories of imagination tend to upset those without one.

Terry Pratchett


Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were, but without it we go nowhere.

Carl Sagan


 The Most Important Bits to Remember

For You

Congruous association

Against You

Incongruous association


Learning cycle: Concentration - observation - modelling - practice - variation -coordination

Memory process: Receiving - perceiving - encoding - consolidation - retrieval - reconsolidation


Perception is an emergent property of the interaction between imagination and reality.

The mind is a prediction engine.

The inner model is a virtual landscape that mimics the outside world, with all its forces and pronciples and rules. The objects we see exist as collections of neural circuits and electrical impulses. [74]

In developing networks 1- 3 we are mastering the art of adapting ourselves to better fit in with the needs of the environment & circumstances.

Memory, prediction and perception are the processes imagination uses to understand the past, the future and the here and now.

Imagination uses images from current perception and prediction to enable memory, images from memory and prediction to enable current perception, and images from current perception and memory to enable prediction.

Our perception and beliefs control the expression of our genome.


Hopefully by now you have a basic grasp of the triune nature of imagination as used in the processes of perception/memory/prediction, how imagination uses its own version of the COMP VC cycle to make memories, and what other functions imagination relies on to get things right.

We hope you have also grasped the basic idea of N3’s 'inner model’ and can now see how physical movement and spatial awareness are related to recalling factual information, and how concrete abilities build up the networks that can then be used for abstract tasks.


Now we're going to go back to the table we made in the last tutorial of some of the things we already know and look at how they fit together with what we are learning here. We'll add bits to this table after every tutorial from now on, so it's a good idea to keep a copy of this in your captain's log.

In tutorial 7 we put together a table of what we know about associations between golden rules, core categories (core concepts) and networks. Let’s put some more pieces in the puzzle: we've also looked at neurotransmitters and their roles in linking body and brain, brain and mind. Without looking back to remind yourself, can you remember which transmitters are particularly associated with each core concept?

Again from memory, can you associate any transmitters to the types of animal behaviors they motivate?

And finally, can you remember the main factors of intelligence we learned about in basics tutorials? Can you see how any of these associate with particular animal behaviors or neurotransmitters?

We’ve added these three to the table below:


Core categories







Golden rules



If the brain doesn't

Behave as though


You become more like


Cells that fire together


Know yourself



Always do things in









Factors of intelligence


physical senses,
























Animal behaviors processed










making allies




nest building




resource- distribution,

status display








The link between our imagination, perception and memory in N3 is an unexpected and startling one, and can take a while to really get the hang of and understand.


Awareness of the environment through physical sensation is what we previously thought of as the whole of perception. But perception itself (much of which process we can now see in beautiful detail via scanning) proves to be the art of imagining an effective reconstruction of reality.


We learned in Tutorial 7 how perception is accomplished by putting together the ‘physical sensation’ cellular perception percepts (recognized by similarity or difference to those already in memory), with associated concepts already in memory and variations that we are able to imagine and projecting the result. Perception is thus impossible without imagination and memory –and as we learned in previous tutorials, even the senses themselves cannot wire up properly without the initial sensory perceptual experiences that relate to hard wired eidetic memory.


Through imagination we can ‘re-cognize’ (reassemble from memory) types of things that we have seen before, even if they are a bit different. We can ‘re-member’ (put back together) events and things long past, ‘re-calling’ or ‘re-collecting’ them from their present storage as disparate ‘bits’. Once we put enough bits together to recognize anything, the brain imagines all the chains of information in memory associated with it. When we play with them we can ‘re-create’ realities by imagining new combinations of associations.


From time to time…you will forget all this

Do you know what the biggest problem with memory techniques is? Remembering to use them. No joke. Many popular methods work, but if you don't have the habit of using them, you'll forget to when you need them most. So if you take the time to learn a technique, make a conscious effort to use it until it becomes automatic.

A recent study [67] compared the brains of 10 participants in the World Memory Championships who have above-average memories with 10 people with normal memories. Both groups had "high-average" intelligence, but the groups used their brains differently during memory tests.

Close to all of those in the exceptional memory group activated the parietal cortex and the hippo strongly, using association and eidetic imagery to obvious benefit.

From brain imaging data, we are now able to see a significant correlation between different learning strategies and brain activity. These tools now allow us to see individual patterns of brain activity and how they differ from one person to the next.

Individuals who use the following two strategies often have better memory performance than those who use them rarely or not at all:

1) A visual inspection strategy in which participants carefully studied the visual appearance of objects.

2) A verbal elaboration — or word-based strategy — in which individuals constructed sentences about the objects to remember them.

Visual inspection and verbal elaboration have both also shown in testing to result in improved memory.

We hope by now you are ready to begin training up your memory, so there are plenty of exercises below. Remember that every aspect of intelligence you improve also upgrades other parts. Latest studies are showing that such mental cross-training does work.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences [69] reports that a group of college students improved their performance on a pattern-recognition test and a commonly used intelligence test — after training their working memory.

The researchers found that those who had trained on a working memory test scored on average more than a control group in a test of 29 questions assessing the ability to solve problems, use abstract reasoning, and adapt to new situations. The effect was larger among those who trained for longer.

After the study was completed, one researcher received letters from some of the participants. “They said that after the training they were more attentive,” he says. “They could more easily follow lectures, or had less trouble understanding the papers they read.” [69]


How much can your memory improve?

The brain has around 100 trillion connections joining billions of neurons and every single junction has the potential to be part of a memory. New connections can also be made, so the memory potential capacity of the human brain is effectively pretty massive. In fact, we don’t know the limit yet.

Humans can also maximise their capacity, because human memory differs from a computers in several important ways. For one, it can be selective. Items considered of interest are retained better than those that are not. So personal and meaningful and creative memories can be held in their billions while dry facts we learned at school and never used will fade away. Secondly, the brain works via associations. If you cannot remember a fact, you can link it to a meaningful memory and use the latter to retrieve the former –this is how mnemonics work.

Wondering how much we can improve is really asking the question, "is there a limit to human memory?" So what are researchers to say when asked, “Is there a limit to memory?” The only fair response is "We don't know". And it's okay not to know things in science, as long as we know we don't know them. That's what gives us interesting puzzles to solve.






HACKS -for memory & association


For N1&2:

  • First

    Improve your memory as much as you can by natural means; that is to say, make sure you get enough sleep and eat well. Foods that are particularly good for memory are listed in the methods & tech section above. (Be careful not to overdose on vitamin B or your dreams will kick the crap out of you. The rumor that cheese makes you dream is based on the fact that it improves your memory of your dreams, often in vivid detail.) Be aware of the effects of alcohol etc and wean yourself off alarm clocks.


  • Take a nap

Between bits of learning. Normal memory consolidation of new information takes 6-8 hours to become permanent. With a nap [for some rapid defragging] you can reduce the time to 90 minutes.


You may find these simple steps improve your memory a lot, but there's no need to stop there!


  • Use your Sensory Power

    The more enjoyable a sensation, the more likely it will be remembered, all other things being equal. The more stuff stimulates your senses, the easier it is to remember.

    For example, reading material is more likely to be remembered if it has key words in color and is as brightly lit as possible without glare.

A message in several media, i.e. where different senses are stimulated, is more powerful than in one. It follows then, that an idea which is expressed through a story will have more impact on the memory than a straight-forward statement. The more fantastic, evocative or powerfully illustrated the story, the more powerful the memory. However, best of all is to directly express the idea in actions. Sometimes this may be

done as an experiment, sometimes as an exercise and sometimes it is a less specific action in the world at large. Sexual or sexually linked data will probably be easily remembered because of our society’s pervasive taboos on sex and also because sex has a high level of sensory power. Anything vulgar, humorous, weird or attractive will also be easily remembered. This will vary depending on personal associations.

Vivid perception is the best aid to retention. In this way the sense exercises are also memory improvers!

To get people [including yourself] to remember what is said, heard or written make sure it appeals to a range of the senses either directly or by association. A subject that is dull can be associated with one that is bright. E.g. a dull black and white list or plan will draw attention to itself by being highlighted or pasted onto a colored background

  • for spatial memory

Draw maps from memory of parts of your local area, and a floor plan for your home or other familiar building. Check them out and correct them later. This habit improves spatial memory really fast.


For N3


Input control for enriched environments


Behavioral, cellular and molecular studies have revealed significant effects of enriched environments, and provided new insights into mechanisms of experience-dependent plasticity, including adult neurogenesis and synaptic plasticity. The demonstration that the onset and progression of neurodegenerative diseases is delayed by environmental enrichment has emphasized the importance of understanding epigenetic factors in nervous system disorders.

There is now no doubt that the development and performance of mind, brain and individual is affected by the stimulation of their processing networks provided by their surroundings (including the opportunity to interact socially)

Enriched environments work via epigenetics; affecting the expression of genes that determine neuronal structure.[84]

At the molecular level, this occurs through a cascade of responses including increased concentrations of neurotrophins and BDNF, the alteration of cholinergic neurons and an increase in proteins & various neurotransmitters. [85]

The number of improvements enabled by input control for an enriched environment is legion; increased numbers of synapses, dendrites, glial support cells and new neurons; more complex connections between neurons, increased synapse activity and a thicker cortex. Capillary vasculation is upgraded to provide the neurons and glial cells with extra energy.

An 'enriched' environment in fact means a normal healthy environment -the real world is an enriched environment. Rather we should speak of avoiding impoverished environments such as school (and sadly for many, work and home), because impoverished environments impair cognitive development.

Children that receive impoverished stimulation due to being confined to cots without social interaction or bonded caretakers show severe delays in cognitive and social development.[86] 12% of them show autistic or mildly autistic traits later at four years of age.

Such children show marked differences in their brains, consistent with research upon experiment animals, compared to children from healthy stimulating environments. They have reduced brain activity in the brain stem (N1), hippo, amygdala & temporal cortex (N3), and the orbital prefrontal cortex (N6). [87]

They also showed less developed white matter (axonal) connections between different areas in their cerebral cortices, particularly the commissure connecting N3 to N6 (uncinate fasciculus/UF) [88]

Conversely, bonded infants who are carried in arms, stimulated with massage and breast fed show faster maturation of EEG activity, visual acuity and an increase in IGF-1.[88]

Research also shows that specific brain structures in people from the city and the countryside respond differently to social stress. Schizophrenia is twice as common in those who are city-born and raised as in those from the countryside, and the bigger the city, the higher the risk.[91]

Being outside in nature for just 20 minutes in a day is enough to significantly boost vitality levels, and that sense of increased vitality exists above and beyond the energizing effects of physical activity and social interaction that are often associated with our forays into the natural world. You don't have to exercise; just be there. Research has shown that people with more exposure to nature don't just have more energy for things they want to do, they are also more resilient to physical illnesses, caring, and generous.[90] These studies underscore the importance of having access to parks and natural surroundings and of incorporating natural elements into our buildings through windows and indoor plants.

  • Hacks for those who like to drink & smoke

Alcohol and cannabis can wreck your memory. If you like to do either, keep to the following simple guidelines to minimise damage:

  1. Don’t drink/smoke every day

  2. Don’t binge, especially after a long time without.

  3. Invest in a wine bottle resealer so you don’t feel obliged to drink up the whole bottle of wine you opened before it goes sour.

  4. Avoid drinking/smoking before you have to learn anything new.

  5. Drink juice or water in between beer or joints. Dehydration is a big cause of memory damage and cell damage in general. Eat more fruit. This should be no problem if you already have the munchies.

  6. If you go to a heavy party, or wake up with a hangover, don’t drink or smoke for a few days afterwards.


  • to get drunk without alcohol [and without hangover]:

Memory loss occurs because alcohol binds to a type of receptor in the hippo called “alpha-5”. The drugs bretazenil and pagoclone do this too. Alcohol also inhibits NMDA receptors, and so does the drug dizoclipine. If you mix these medications together you are able to get ‘drunk’. To get un-drunk, you can take flumazenil, which turns off the effect. These drugs are quite expensive, but if you can afford it they give the same effect as alcohol without the liver damage, and you have an immediate ‘sober-up’ pill. Sounds like Star Trek but it’s true. If you grind them to powder and put them into grape juice, you have a pleasant and safer alcohol substitute wine.

Drug companies are unlikely to develop this mix because of its potential for abuse. [They don’t seem too concerned about the potential of alcohol for abuse.] So if you get a chance, check it out.

  • for association exaggerate differences and similarities

    A foreign or exotic word might stand out from a passage of normal prose. A flower might stand out in a muddy battlefield. A sparrow would stand out in an aviary of finches. The weird, unexpected, unusually strident out of context, will be remembered. Exaggerations of SIZE seem to be especially effective, and to remember in time, make it rhyme.

To memorize a forgettable name, exaggerate or use an associated rhyming word that will make it stick in the mind. (Examples: Smith, Myth; Dave, Slave; Peter, Meter)


  • for those who tend to be front loaders (to improve overall brain connectivity)

    It is worth taking the time to make deliberate and conscious symbolic connections between material reality and abstract concepts, e.g. the smell of freshly turned soil and the fertility of the earth and its potential bounty of resources. In this way, you can get both ends of the brain associating the same things, and later a simple perception brings to mind the abstract idea. Association as a whole is enriched by such consciously intended associations. A single flower can bring to mind the 'productive power of nature'. Smell is a potent sense with which to make such associations. Consider what different smells remind you of.

  • using congruous association


    To understand how association works congruously and how in particular you personally make associations:

Pick a concrete concept at random. (Concrete = physical material, for example an object, animal, plant, building, place.) The concept should be represented in a single word, symbol or picture. Write, draw or stick this in the centre of one page of your captain's log. Then using the word or picture as a focus, make a mind map, writing around it as many associations as you can jot down in 5 minutes. This in itself may be revealing. Label this page 'original associations'.

If you can do this with others, it is interesting to see someone else's associations and thoughts around a subject as a reference point from which to judge your own.

Next, take the same concept and put it at the center of a new page.

Spending only a few minutes on each section:

At the bottom left of the page, write the core concept 'matter', and note down its material and sensory associations (eg is it hard or soft, cold or warm, what is its texture and taste if it has them).

At the bottom right, write the core concept 'space' and note down its spatial and behavioral associations, (eg how does it move, look or sound, what does it do, where is it seen, kept, found or used, how does it behave?) Behavior is independent motion in space; for example if your concept was 'cat' you would say it walks, runs, climbs, stalks prey and eats mice. If it was 'car' you'd say it needs an operator or it does nothing.

At the bottom centre, write the core concept 'density', and here note whether it has any smell and if so what sort, what type of emotions you associate with it if any, and whether or not you think it's important. On the whole, do you like it or not? Is it a beneficial thing or a harmful one?

At the top right of the page, write the core concept, "Time", and list here the concept's procedural, creative and time-related associations, if it has any. This will usually include what it is or could be used for, what can be done with it, when and how it could be used/seen, or how it works, and its place in 'the big picture' (for example if your starting concept was 'cat' you would say it's part of organic life; if your concept was 'car' you'd say it was part of human technology). Look for associations that emphasize its similarity to other things or how it is a part of things.

At the top left of the page, write the core concept 'energy', and here note down declarative facts and data you know about the concept, For example what is it called, what is it made of, when was it first seen, what color is it, who discovered/invented it and any facts you know that distinguish it as different from other things.

At the top center, write the core concept 'power and here note how it features in human interaction (eg, is it to be avoided, sought, eaten, attended to, used, talked to, looked at?) Do NOT include what it is or could be used for, just whether it is used by humans.

Now consider the associations on this map. Can you see why these aspects of your starting concept associate with the core concepts that they do? Can you see that together they answer all the questions: what, where, when, which, why and how?

Check which network your concept has most associations in.

If you get stuck, use your knowledge of animal behaviors and which networks they relate to. -How does your chosen concept relate to the different animal behaviors? This should tell you what network (and hence which core concept) it has most associations in.

Compare your original and second lists. Which one would give a stranger a clearer idea of what the concept is, if they had never heard of it before?

Practice habitually working out the core concepts associated with random things around you, and thinking of things in association with their core concepts. This will instill habits of congruous association automatically. If you are stuck in dull surroundings, make random lists of concepts and practice core concept association with them.

Most people find the concepts 'energy' and 'density' the hardest core concepts to understand, and we'll pay extra attention to those in these tutorials.


Association augmentation:


Observe association in defragging -Deliberately sit and daydream. Allow your mind to wander. Have a notebook by your side and every half minute make a one-word note of the current thought you are having. Jot this down in such a way as to avoid disturbing your reflections, as far as possible. In this way you can keep track of a series of points in your wandering thoughts.

After 10 or 15 minutes stop and look at your notes. See if you can identify the connections by which each link originally came one from the other. (Often the link is not 'rational' but simply a quite arbitrary association, for example we think of a train, then we think of someone we last saw on a train, then something they said about turtles, and then we think of tortoises and the galapagos islands, charles darwin, the natural history museum...etc) Don't try to direct your thoughts, just observe, make notes, and see if you can fit in the missing links.

Repeat this once daily for a week. This is a study of how your mind's processing finds continuity and associational links. Similar mechanisms operate in dreams, but we are not normally conscious of them. The more conscious you become of how defragging works, the more you will be able to both direct and augment it.

Next note down what core concepts were accessed at the key points you first noted down; for example my starting concept was 'train' and that associates mostly with the core concept of time. (Obviously it has associations with many core concepts -it's a machine made of matter that moves through space over time using energy and so on, but the first descriptive phrase "it's a machine" gives us its key concept from N3's inner model.)

For N4:

  • Hack to assist recall

Common Mnemonics:






Hack for using the learning cycle to improve procedural memory and LTP:


Practice and variation is about generating your own examples. Go beyond the examples already provided on any particular topic you are learning. Bring your general knowledge and experience into play by relating information and ideas to what you already know. When you can generate your own examples, you both demonstrate your understanding and enhance your memory.



Hack for improving LTP


Go multimodal. If you have a list of things to remember, say them out loud, listen carefully to the sound of the words as you say them, write them down and focus on how the words look as you do so. Draw pictures that relate to each item. Make up a tune to sing them to, or a rhyming poem with them in. The more different modes that you can put the information into, the easier and faster it will be to move it into long term memory.

  • Remembering academic stuff you actually want to learn –interact with it

Follow the technique above but paraphrase the essential ideas to yourself as soon as you have read them. If the situation allows, speak aloud to yourself (vocalizing is in itself a great aid to memory).

When you read the crucial passages and summaries again, paraphrase afresh. In doing this think through the important points as if you were relating or explaining them to someone else. As you proceed through the material, describe to yourself the connections between the essential ideas. This is done by relating each new idea to the preceding material. If the 'argument' or 'structure' is complex you will find it helps to use a mind map. After each section or other substantial amount, summarize the information or arguments so far. These summaries may be read aloud, taped and played back when you are reviewing.

Having read the summaries criticize and question the ideas so far. –Do they make sense to you in context? Again, think out aloud if possible. Aim to make this as succinct as possible.

It is an 'effort' to start to use this interactive technique when one has been used to ‘reading’ being a passive, quiet activity. This change of habit will be rewarded by a much stronger and clearer memory of the material.


  • Repetition and Review

    Repetition is essential for the retention of any complex information that lacks emotional content. Each time a particular object, process or condition is perceived, the memory trace is etched deeper. This principle can be used in two ways. In learning a passage of prose or collection of objects, the passage or collection must be run over, and over again, until it is learnt. Secondly, if the thing needs to be learnt so that it. is permanently ready for recall, then it must be reviewed at intervals. Review is recommended, at the optimal time intervals for learning [see previous tutorials]. After four or five reviews which are separated in time, the item enters long term memory from which it is never lost. Further reviews can be of key words and areas only.

Repetition is most effective if it is active. If one speaks the words, with gestures. If the facts are made into a model, sculpture, image, poster or conversation topic. Passive repetition needs more cycles to gain an equivalent retention. [This is the main ploy of advertising, where essentially unimportant material is absorbed unconsciously simply by passive but repeated exposure]. Passive unconscious absorption has the advantage of speed [this may be put to good use in reprogramming the memory with a more positive outlook, which we’ll explore in a later tutorial with autosuggestion.]

Repeat people’s names as often as conversation permits after first introductions without giving an impression of over familiarity. The derivation of the name, or other people you know with the same name, may be used as conversational gambits.

As a mental faculty, memory cannot be improved by repetitive practice of the same type of input, e.g., by remembering more and more telephone numbers, you are not improving your memory as such. You need regular exercise of all types of memory to develop and improve this factor of intelligence.

Application: If a thing is worth repeating it is worth repeating at least three times. Rub it in.


  • Categorize & use creativity

    When a number of things have something in common they can more easily be remembered by grouping them under their shared feature. i.e. the group. Use the core categories and association maps. If the things to be remembered are completely disparate they may be artificially made into a linked set, and one way of doing this is to include the things as part of a story. The story, as a rich set of linked ideas in which the disparate things are integral elements, is easily remembered.

Application: Take what you which to remember and list what the material has in common or how it matches to the core categories. If this seems unhelpful create an artificially linking structure e.g. an imagined place in which each to be remembered fact or object is visualized in a particular location.

Linking a name to an occupation or hobby (eg, Rupert the musician) is very helpful. It takes quite a bit of practice before a dozen new introductions at a party can be instantly retained, but it is possible with practice and ingenuity to compress the technique into very few seconds.



using distraction


Need to memorize a crucial fact? The trick is to distract yourself by taking short breaks in which you pay attention to input that's different from whatever you're trying to learn. Example –take a short break, and watch a cartoon, or listen to some music –or even better- do 5 minutes meditation.

As you relax, your brain will do a bit of defragging to permanently store the original information. It's like allowing your processing time to catch up with itself. Here's a real life example: researchers [76] asked students to try to memorize a set of 48 word pairs (country: Russia, fruit: lemon, flower: lily, etc.). After studying the list, some students then had to sit through a slide show before trying to recall the words, and some didn’t. The distracted students performed better on subsequent recall tests. Distraction allows you to engage in processing.



Primacy and Recency

The beginning of an event, lecture, film, journey, list etc., is likely to be weighted more strongly and consequently remembered. This is also true of the final scene, passage, conclusion and so on. This characteristic of weighting can be used to advantage by introducing the main points or characters you need to remember early on and summarizing the conclusions at the end. This principle will work for periods of several years (e.g. at college) as it will for short lists of objects. It is also true for life as a whole in that early events are most influential and recent events most easily remembered in detail.


Think of ways that first and last things seen can be designed to envelop the whole. With an essay this may be a first paragraph that summarizes your argument and a final paragraph that summarizes your main points.


For N5:


Attitude dancing: “There is no try”


Learning new things –anything- strengthens your memory — especially when you believe you can learn new things. It's a virtuous circle: When you think you're getting smarter, you study harder, making more nerve-cell connections, which in turn makes you ... smarter. This effect shows up consistently among experimental subjects, from seventh graders to college students to business people. According to studies carried out by Stanford University psychology professor Carol Dweck and others, volunteers with a so-called growth mindset about learning ("persist in the face of setbacks") have more brain plasticity. In other words, their brains are more adaptable. They exhibit increases in cognitive performance compared with those who have a so-called fixed mindset based on anxiety ("get defensive or give up easily"). "Many people believe they have a fixed level of intelligence, and that's that," Dweck says. "The cure is to change the mindset."

The same technique can be used in illness. Your attitude to and perception acuity for any problem strongly determines the outcome of that problem. Research confirms that brief, straightforward psychoeducational interventions can modify negative illness beliefs and lead to improvements over a range of different health outcomes. In fact, research suggests that how a person views their illness may play a bigger role in determining health outcomes than the actual severity of the disease.[71]

Have confidence in intelligence. Approach anything new with the attitude that all you have to do is show the brain things in the right order and it will learn about stuff. Keeping anxiety levels down is important as ever for achieving this space.

Use the self-assessments in these tutorials so that you can see clearly that you are improving and keep track of what to do next.

  • Tag weighting with words

You can use cognitive input to enhance memory weighting. The fastest way to do that is start telling yourself to remember. If you just learned a person's name, for example, tell yourself, "Remember that". This signals the unconscious mind to rank this input higher in importance.

Tell yourself why you want to remember something, and how you will remember it. To remember a person, think about how that person will be important to you in the future, where you'll see them next, and anything you notice about them. Clearly seeing the importance of remembering will help a lot and the additional associations (where you expect to see the person next, for example) will weight the memory more densely in the first place.

Use a keyword, for example ‘video’ as an instruction to your unconscious mind to increase weighting on the recording of an event and a signal to yourself to pay attention. This works well in self-suggestion and hypnosis.


Hack to improve declarative memory & learning speed:


This is an ‘add-on’ to the “Mind Map” method. It’s great when swotting for exams, learning from books or manuals, or trying to remember a big load of facts in any context:

Quantity survey the info –break it up into bits, one for each study session that you have available.

    Scan briefly through the information as though you are a shopper flicking through a catalog looking for interesting things for sale. Look at anything that automatically catches your eye, such as pictures or headlines, but don’t dwell on anything for too long.

    Study introductions, summaries and conclusions first. Make a mind map as you’re going along. The keywords will help your storage and recall.

    As mentioned earlier, the brain has a natural timing optimal for learning and remembering. The trouble is, everyone's is slightly different. Research shows that this spacing effect is the product of the transfer of the memory trace from the flocculus, a cerebellar cortex region which connects to motor nuclei involved in eye movement, to another brain region known as the vestibular nuclei. Protein synthesis in the cerebellum plays a key role in memory consolidation, and humans and animals are able to remember things more effectively if learning is distributed over a period of time rather than performed all at once.[82]

    You can find out yours by trial and error starting with the basic method below:

Study until you are just starting to get bored with it. Wait ten minutes, then go over the material again. Then leave it alone for 24 hours, and at the same time next day, look at the material a third time. You can then forget about it for a week, after which you should review it once more. If you want to keep the information long-term, you should include another two sessions, one after a month and one after six months. If you keep to this pattern of timing, your memory of the material will be stronger, and if you use it regularly, permanent.


Recent research [81] devised a mathematical method to calculate your ideal learning schedule, which can be found here:



Remembering Verbal Material –recapping


In situations where you are unable to refer back to visual material for review, recapping is a useful technique. Using recapping also does away with the need to take immediate notes.

What you do is whenever the speaker says ‘any questions?’ [or after the talk] say you would like to ensure that you have understood what has been said so far. You then express in your own words the main points made and ask for correction if necessary. This ensures communication is fully understood and it is a powerful memory aid because it helps concentration (especially on boring or difficult material.)

At the end of the presentation do a major recap of the material as a whole and ask questions if you need to for further clarification.

This recapping may also be done with a third party after the event –anybody who seemed to take more of it in than you did. It can also be used with books or film and video material.



Hack for those unfortunate dudes studying for exams:


If you can break the school conditioning that books should be read 'properly' or not at all it can cut your study time by at least 50 per cent. This method will not guarantee information staying in long term memory, so it should be done a week or two before the exam for best results [see next hack for stuff you actually want to learn]. You have to be prepared to draw all over books or notes so find a pencil if you don’t want them permanently scribbled on. Then follow this formula:

1. preview:This is an initial survey at speed. Look at the amount of material and consider the amount of time you have to learn it. Divide the load into days/weeks etc (eg if there are x pages/chapters of text to study in y days/weeks, you need to study z pages per day/week.) Remembering to take breaks to optimize your learning, go through each section in the following manner:

Scan briefly through everything but the main text. Look at the contents page, pictures, back cover or dust cover notes, summaries, conclusions, graphics, margin notes, italics, bold type, capitals, subheadings, quotes, tables, dates, statistics, graphs, footnotes etc. Be especially careful to pay attention to the outlines of diagrams, and other illustrations. Aim to understand the overall structure of the information. Don't make notes yet.

2. zoom outview: Now read the beginnings and ends of each chapter and scan the rest of the text. Aim to get the gist of the arguments but leapfrog the difficult detailed or boring bits. Key word diagram notes or highlighting may help if the structure is complex. You can now begin to select what is useful to study further, criticize the content and reject parts, marking only what you are sure will be useful.

3. zoom inview: Reread what you have so far concluded will be useful and start making notes or a mind map. Look at some of the difficult bits and details associated with key areas but still don't get bogged down; if it’s not clear move on regardless (few authors will not summarize key points clearly at some stage!) Mark key summary text and related passages so they stand out. Make your own index of relevant pages and subject areas on the rear fly leaf.

4. overview: Re-read key text and related passages. Scan to make key notes and/or a mind map. For a heavy book or area of study make a mind map or large general diagram of the overall structure and sub-diagrams for each section/topic etc. See what bits of information are missing and seek them out in the material, adding to your notes/mind map. Include in your map associations with stuff you already know.

5. review: Read notes next day and then in one week and in a month. In the first review redraw the initial key word diagram - to clarify the pattern. The subsequent reviews can be quick - a matter of 5 minutes. If you’ve followed the formula you may find you now have time to fill in a few more details and because you have all the basics, this should be easier. Consider the way this information relates to you personally and what it will enable you to do.

6. clear view: Form a strategy for prioritisation of things to remember, considering what is likely to be required of you and what sort of context you will be expected to put the information in.


Weighting memory with personal interest - 'use value'

Memory retention improves with increased motivation. This is partly due to an increase in the intensity of perception, and motivation is an important factor. If an action, object or knowledge can clearly be seen to be of use, then motivation increases. A perception that is irrelevant to our survival, or whose use is obscure, won't generate much interest and so will not be easily remembered.


In setting up material to be memorized, it helps to make its 'use value' clear; i.e., understanding what practical use the information can be put to. This seems an obvious point and yet in much common academic work the reasons WHY it is useful to learn the facts presented, and how they are connected to our real lives in the real world are simply not given.

Find these associations for yourself, taking responsibility for your own learning. If something genuinely cannot be seen as useful to real life in any way, you probably shouldn't be learning it.

Remember, fiction and fantasy are also useful to real life!

NB. Artificial motivation via use value may also be generated by coercion, by deceit using absolutely false or fictitious reasons of use, or by strongly associating a 'useless' fact or object with one that is more useful (one of the most common strategies in advertising) but this is not to be advised for aiding memory unless your need is dire, as it creates incongruous association that you'll then have to work on getting rid of.


Input control when learning declarative information

An environment free from distraction is a great help. This is a personal thing but some find it useful to get out of their familiar surroundings. Go to the local library or set aside a new space. Difficult material will generally require shorter, sharper periods of concentration e.g. heavy technical information.

Take regular breaks for exercise. To avoid over-familiarity, consecutive periods of study should provide you with a variety of stimuli, i.e. similar subjects and media should not be learned in sequence.

Always remember that no new knowledge can be moved into long term memory until after you next sleep!


For N6

  • Do the audition

Rehearse the information as though you had to learn it as an actor learning lines and practise speaking it aloud in various different ways [different accents, different moods].



Get yourself into the ‘right frame of association’. If your mind is elsewhere you will not be able to key into a subject as quickly as if you had 'warmed up' beforehand.




You will do better in lectures or meetings if you have mentally reviewed your curriculum beforehand. Reviewing known aspects of a subject before approaching it at a higher level or after a break will facilitate your retention of new facts and ideas. Things with which the new ideas can be associated are then fresh in your mind.


Techniques for improving memory in all networks


Exercise –Is known to improve memory, especially early networks. Tai Chi is one of the best; swimming in moving water is another. Dancing of any kind where you have to remember the steps is good too. Any kind of basic workout that improves your blood flow will also help your memory [and the rest of your brain].

If using physical exercise to improve your memory, bear the following in mind:

Aerobic Training
In 2006, Arthur Kramer of the University of Illinois used MRIs to prove that aerobic exercise builds gray and white matter in the brains of older adults. Later studies found that more aerobically fit grade-schoolers also perform better on cognitive tests.
Impact on memory: Strong

Lifting Weights
When weight lifters talk about getting huge, they aren't referring to their hippocampus. Researchers have found only the most tenuous link between heavy resistance training and improved cognitive function.
Impact on memory: Negligible

When facing a stressful situation or even a scary email, people often hold their breath. Yoga can break that habit. Under pressure, "most people breathe incorrectly," says Frank Lawlis, a fellow of the American Psychological Association. The result: more anxiety and less oxygen to your brain. "So the first thing that goes is your memory."
Impact on memory: Possibly strong



Particularly good for N4, because it improves your ability to get into alpha rhythm, but also helps all other networks, and increases attention and alertness.

Impact on memory: Very strong.


Psychological techniques –Can be particularly helpful for shifting traumatic memories. Sometimes used with medication/drugs in PTSD or paranoia [see next tutorial]. Best results have come so far from Cognitive Behavioral therapy, and if you have a big ‘S’ score for N5 and a low one for N3, this will work particularly well for you. This is a good example of where a strong network can help a weaker one back onto its feet. Using N3 to associate music with facts could work in the opposite case [low N5, high N3].

Impact on memory: Varies widely according to individual


Exercises -for building up or augmenting memory & association

Memory techniques basically do three things - they help you to control your attention, they help you to add meaning, and they also allow you to ‘play’ with information and thereby allow you to review and repeat it.

  • If you only ever have time for one exercise, use anxiety reduction.

If you're fleeing a cave bear, it's good to be stressed — you'll run faster. But while a little nervousness can boost cognitive performance, periods of anxiety essentially turn us into Neanderthals: The amy’s danger signal overrides the prefrontal cortex, which handles working memory and executive function. "When those deep brain areas are active, they shanghai your cortical neurons," says psychiatrist Edward Hallowell, author of CrazyBusy. "Your IQ plummets. Your creativity, your sense of humor — all of that disappears. You're stupid." How to quiet your inner caveman? By slowing and synchronizing your pulse and respiration, thus sending a message to your brain that everything is cool. Meditation, Yoga or power napping could do the trick. Or try a biofeedback device to help you calm down.


  • Attention Meditation

Gaze at the second-hand of a clock without the slightest waver of attention. As soon as your mind wanders note the time. As you repeat this exercise you will notice your attention span increasing.

Some gurus claim that if you can keep full attention, without wavering or being mesmerized for thirty minutes then you have achieved enlightenment..... all we can say is you definitely haven’t drunk too much coffee.

exercises for improving sensorimotor & spatial memory in networks 1&2:


Attention and Orientation bring Concentration


    A basic perceptual/mental ability is to be able to concentrate the attention from the general to the more specific by orienting the senses to discriminate in favor of one or more items. In this way perception is focused more intensely on a smaller area. Other sensations and irrelevant thoughts are rigorously excluded to achieve this specialization.

A single mental target target is difficult to keep steady for long. Apart from mental interference from 'wandering thoughts' (chains of association) there is the perceptual phenomenon of adaption (if something is judged safe and familiar, we tend to ignore it). In practice, concentration is available for periods of 15 seconds to 3 minutes depending on the individual. Here are some exercises to improve attention & orientation:


  • Orienting attention

Sit facing a screen and play any video with the sound off (or a TV with anything on will do, but make sure to mute the sound.) Now fix your attention on one corner of the screen (say the top right) and say aloud everything recognizable that comes into that corner (it's best to do this when on your own) : )

Your may end up saying stuff like “blue sky/ spiky shape/ bit of a word/ someones ear/ hair in the wind/ car roof/...” and so on; whatever appears in the corner. When you can do this without being distracted by the image on the entire screen, you go to level 2 and do it with the sound on. Level 3 you learn to do it silently in your mind (just think the things in words instead of speaking them aloud) and if you get that far you'll find your attention is much more controllable than it used to be.

  • “Stop-motion”

This exercise is best done whenever you have some free time, as it looks a bit odd to the external observer.

At random times during the day, when you are in the middle of doing something, stop moving. Try to ‘freeze’ without tensing your muscles or going floppy, as though you were in a video that was suddenly paused. Hold your pose for 15 seconds [just count, don’t look at your watch] then continue with whatever you were doing. During the 15 seconds try to keep as still as possible without changing your muscular tension or holding your breath. Use your common sense -don’t decide to do this exercise halfway through coming downstairs or getting into the bath!

If you find it difficult to remember to do this at first, leave yourself a note somewhere you are bound to go during the day at some point, for example in your bathroom or bedroom. Train yourself to remember to do the exercise without notes.

Practising this exercise once or twice a day will improve your sensorimotor and spatial memory, and also your balance and poise. Because of the way the brain works, you may find your appreciation of music improves too.


  • Exercise for spatial association

Let’s give your memory a bit of exercise. You can do this at work or in a library or café, etc. Get a piece of paper and sketch a rough floor-plan of your home, indicating the shape of rooms, roughly but not necessarily strictly to scale. On your plan, write down the color of the floor covering in each room and name the largest item of furniture in that room. If you only live in one room, you must name six items in the room and the color of the walls.

If you can’t remember, or to check if you are right, go and have a look as soon as you are able, and the next time you are away from home try this exercise again.

When you get it right, you can design your own exercises of this nature, using other places you have been as the targets to sketch and describe. When you first visit a new place, try to sketch your surroundings from memory as soon as possible, maybe on the first night, in bed, so that you can check what you missed when visiting them again the next day. Drawing streetmaps of areas is another good version of this exercise. You can also try remembering items out of a picture and making a rough sketch of what is where. Choose places and pictures that you like, so that it’s more fun to do this exercise.

You are improving your spatial and associative memory in doing this exercise. If you practise it regularly you will start to notice that you are becoming naturally more observant on first encounters than you were previously. Using this network sharpens it up, and it starts taking more notice of your surroundings because it is getting into the habit of being aware that “this information might be needed later”. [The brain doesn’t know that you are merely doing exercises, which is why this is also a sort of hack.] It just goes ahead and improves its memory performance because this is what “seems to be expected of it.”

  • For increasing rear net density

MRI detects localized density increase after people learn mirror reading (the right occipital cortex, navigation (hippocampus) and three-ball juggling (bilateral mid-temoporal area and left posterior intraparietal sulcus) [89]

Exercises for improving or enhancing eidetic memory & association skills in N3

“Word Association Football”

You can play this alone or with others. You need a pen and paper or a word processing program.


To play alone:

Begin with a keyword from one of these categories:


 An enjoyable emotion [eg happiness, love, excitement, rectitude, contentment]


  • A material object [eg box, bag, stick, car, window, hat]

  • A month of the year

  • A time of day

  • An insect, bird or animal

  • A form of travel [eg walking, driving, flying, swimming, sailing]

  • A field of study [eg physics, maths, geography, entomology]

  • An organic object [eg tree, plant, river, star, fire, mountain]

  • A first name [eg Mary, Fred, Abdul, Maiko, Jean]

  • A genre of music [eg opera, rap, rock & roll, trance, folk, heavy metal]

  • A placename, factual or fictional [eg New York, Utopia, The Amazonian rainforest, Osaka, Seleya on the planet Vulcan]

  • An abstract word that doesn’t mean anything in any language you know, but is pronounceable [eg Blarthe, Wip, Nogoim, Plid]


    Put your keyword at the top of the page. Now choose a word from each of the remaining categories to represent or associate with your starting word.

    Here’s my own example:


Material object: Party popper

Month of year: December

Time of day: night

Insect, bird or animal: kitten

Form of travel: flight

Field of study: humor

Organic object: pond

First name: Cosmo

Genre of music: dance

Placename: stonehenge

Abstract word: Wizzo


Now choose a keyword from among your answers and begin again. Put the new keyword at the top of a new page, and do not look back at the previous page as you make new associations.

As you look back and observe the progress of ideas along the trees of association you’ll learn a lot about how your mind associates things, where it has difficulties establishing associations and where it finds many, easy associations. You’ll also see how some ideas carry over in your memory from one page to the next and how some don’t. The ones that do are the strongest associations.

Vary your practice by choosing keywords that you find it hardest to find associations for.


To play with others –each person chooses another person’s starting keyword.


  • Association and input control

Select about 10 of the most noticeable objects currently in your room. Note your own associations with each of these objects then note down any new associations that you have learned through studying core categories. How could you change any of the objects to strengthen their healthy associations? Are there any objects that have unpleasant associations and should be changed or discarded? [Obviously that Star Wars wallpaper from a long time ago in a galaxy far far away has to stay!]



Put on your favorite movies and practice mimicking whatever good dialogue or behavior catches your fancy. Concentrate on phrases and behaviors that seem to epitomise the good things about the character whom you are viewing. Maybe their 'catch phrases' that recur in the course of the programme. Repeat these over and over to yourself making minute changes until you are able to reproduce their voice or movements with uncanny authenticity.

Learn how to copy other things; for example find samples of common bird sounds and learn to mimic some of them. In this way not only will you improve your modeling skills but as a cheeky bonus you'll be able to recognise birds by their sounds, signal friends, confuse birdwatchers, and lend your neck of the urban wasteland a quaint pastoral flavour.


  • whats that smell?

"No more games of 'what's that smell'!"

(Kochanski; Red Dwarf)


Smells are recently coming under study for having a more powerful influence on recall than once thought. A familiar odor, good or bad, has the ability to rekindle memories once thought lost.

Alzheimer patients, in addition to their loss of memory, also lose their sense of smell. The two tend to be closely linked. Smell may even enhance the ability to learn. Studies done with memorizing word-lists with an accompanied smell, were more easily recalled in the presence of the same smell.

Playing "What's that smell?" alone or with friends will improve connections in not just the olfactory cortex but also the entorhinal cortex -an area that is important for perception and for memory reconsolidation.


playing alone:

A. Visit some rough ground, garden, field, park or forest in which a variety of plants are growing. Make a systematic map of predominant smells using graph paper and a key. Attempt classification.

B. Visit a market or big store with open shelves. Go systematically around all the counters and smell everything. Take notes. If you are surrepticious enough to avoid being asked to leave, this will prove most insightful.

C. Collect together a number of small samples of substances (for example, potato, onion, apple, cheese, banana, soap, candle wax). Wear gloves so as not to get their odors on your fingers while preparing.

Cut them all to be the same shape and size. Wrap each sample in foil or paper and drop them into an opaque bag, sock or hat.

Blindfold yourself and pick one out at random, open it slightly by tearing and see if you can identify the substance. Remove the blindfold and see if you were right. Repeat until you have done all of them.

The more smells there are, the harder this is. Perfumiers, florists and aromatherapists are able to distinguish between dozens and sometimes hundreds of different odors, and if you improve this sense you will notice that you can often tell the chemical contents of a food or product by sniffing at it.

Try 3 smell combinations and from your notes decide which smells are most pleasant.


playing with a partner or assistant: (Take turns to be assistant)

Assistant: Keep secret from the experimenter which smells you are going to use. The selection of smells for this exercise are best selected over a range - as suggested by the classification mentioned in the context-and paired in roughly equal strengths.

Experimenter: Arrange to be presented with a pair of smells. Identify the two individual smells. If they cannot be named try to describe them. If the separate character of the smells cannot be discerned ask for the name/description of one of the pairs. Does this help guess the other? What smells are easily distinguished? What smells merge?

You can also play the 'samples in hat' version with a partner by preparing smells for each other and seeing which one of you can identify which sorts of smells fastest.


Try 3 smell combinations and from your notes decide which smells are most pleasant to each of you. Do you have any favorite smells in common?



Mental exercises for short term memory [RAM] can be found here:




Exercises for eidetic memory

One occupation in which strong eidetic, procedural and declarative memory are required is spying! During the late nineties (and as far as we know, currently) UK’s MI5/6 gave the following five exercises to their trainee intelligence operatives:


1. Take regular snapshots

Look up from whatever you are doing and memorise the scene around you for a minute or two. Then close your eyes and try to recreate it in your mind’s eye. The first impression probably seems very strong but if you zoom in on the details –the titles on the spines of books or the view outside a window or the pattern on a cushion, for examples, you will probably find they go a little fuzzy. This is because enough neurons are firing to give you a low resolution inner picture, but not enough to provide fine details. Practising this exercise at least once each day will improve your eidetic memory. As your brain gets the impression that you require more detail about your surroundings the network will naturally increase. You’ll start to see more and more detail in your pictorial memory and this can be increased until it is virtually photographic.

The amount of improvement this can give to memory overall is probably one of the most noticeable changes in NH, and takes a lot of people by surprise.


2. Associate things

It’s best to use lists of things you would actually like to remember for this exercise.

Cells that fire together wire together. If two simple events or bits of information are brought into vivid association with one another then the subsequent occurrence of either of these events will lead to recall to the other. The relationship formed for this purpose may be quite arbitrary as long as it is vivid. First you choose a key object [we chose “fish”]

1. The first word of the list is read out aloud. Simultaneously visualize the item in some relation to fish as strongly as possible.

2. The second word is then read out aloud and visualized similarly. Make the images exaggerated and fantastic.

3. Now imagine an active relationship between the two images.

4. Having made this connection vividly, dismiss it from the mind and read aloud the third word and visualize it in some association with fish.

5. Now relate the third image to the second.

6. Dismiss from the mind, read aloud the fourth word, visualize it in connection with fish. Using this process you can remember a list of words; by thinking of the adventures of the key object the words are recalled in a chain of associations.

Example: Porridge, scouring pads, thumb tacks, printer cartridge, etc.

1. Porridge – with a fish on top of it –an imaginary Scottish dish.

2. Scouring pads – I am cleaning the scales off a fish with them.

3. Porridge + scouring pads – Obviously I am cleaning the porridge off the fish. Dismiss this relationship from mind

4. Thumb tacks – I am pinning a fish to a noticeboard.

5. Scouring pads and thumb tacks – having cleaned the fish, I’m pegging it out to dry. Dismiss this relationship from your mind.

6. Printer cartridge – The ink smells of fish.

7. Thumb tacks and printer cartridge – But perhaps I got fish smell on the cartridge because I only just tacked that fish to a board.

Examples are of limited use as it is to a great extent a process that relates to personal humor preferences and experience.

Practice learning a different list of 10-20 items each day for a week. Each day test yourself by running through the previous lists. You may find the process laborious at first but after practice the visualized associations may be made at great speed. After the initial week, practice as the chance comes along on such things as shopping lists or key words in notes.


3. Remember everything is multipurpose

Collect a miscellany of 50 small objects, (pencils, coins, cards, mechanical bits, containers, buttons, rubber bands, batteries etc) in a cardboard box or bag. They should perferably all be different. When you've got your collection, tip them out onto the floor and look them over.

How many ways can you think of arranging the objects in a meaningful associated way, e.g., according to shape and size, color, frequency of use, value etc.?

What aesthetic/ergonomic preferences have you got?

What’s the most stable way to make a pile out of all of them?

What tools could be made out of them or combinations of them?

Which ones could you use for improvising a tool for breaking out of a locked room?

If you could only take ten of them to a desert island for a week with no other kit, which ones would you take?

Which ones could you use for improvising a defensive weapon?

How do the associations you observe relate to bigger issues such as the arrangement of furniture in a room, or technology in a building?


4 Adapt familiar procedures

If your memory has experience of the possibilities of variation it will apply the new knowledge to all other memories and all perception.

Turn your mouse round, so that moving it left and up makes the cursor move right and down. Practise using it like this.

Apply similar rules to ordinary everyday tasks –do them with the opposite hand. Try reading upside down, picking up pencils with your toes and getting them into jars, cleaning your teeth and writing your signature with the opposite hand.

Try tying and untying knots in a string with one hand only (you are allowed to use your teeth)

Go about your daily business favoring your non-dominant hand for 24 hours.

When you kneel to pick something up, which knee goes down first? Try kneeling on the other knee.

What changes do you notice in your procedural performance on swapping back?

(To be done at home) Get on a wheeled office chair and keep your feet off the floor by whatever means (resting them on the chair legs or edge of chair seat is usual). Sit on your hands or keep them on the chair arms. Your mission is to navigate around the room and without using any limbs, write a note saying, "help I'm trapped in this office chair".

How do these experiences affect your reasoning when viewing the objects on a room?


5. Look, check, memorize

You will need a notebook or similar.

The making of lists is in itself an external aid to memory. A list (or mind map) allows items to be reorganized in a manner that the memory may more easily absorb. The structure of the list might suggest things that are missing, and also priorities may be evaluated.

Basic method:

Make a list of about 20 things of different categories (for example a fruit, a mammal, a car, a tree, a computer, a rock, a TV etc)

Arrange the list so that associated things are placed together (for example fruit, tree, mammal, rock, computer, TV, car)

Read the list through at a regular rhythm. Then covering the list with a sheet of paper, remember the first word. Move the paper down to reveal the 1st word - look, check, memorize. Try and remember the 2nd word, whilst it is still covered. Move the paper down to reveal the 2nd word - look, check, memorize. Repeat for the 3rd word - and continue through the list. Keep going through the list in this way until each item is anticipated correctly. Repeat a few more times. Now run through the list several times out aloud, faster and without the copy.

When you are out and about, stop in front of any window displaying a variety of items, or any car park containing a variety of vehicles. Observe the items and categorize them in your mind making a mental list of what is there, then turn your back or move away. Take out your notebook and write down what items you can remember in order by association.

Look, check, memorize. Check your result by looking again. The second time you turn away, add any missing items to your list. When you get it right first time, increase the number of items, or increase the detail (for example, how many car registration numbers can you remember? Chances are you will start by remembering only one or two, but this can be increased with practice to nine or ten!)

When you are in public places where people mostly stand still, view the assortment of people around you and imagine you will have to describe them later. Turn away and try to remember each individual -could you describe them clearly?

Look, check, memorize. Turn back and check your acuity -what is missing? Then turn away again and see if you can make a better description.

When you are in unfamiliar rooms or buildings, play 'look, check, memorize' with a description of the room or building, but make sure you will be allowed to stay long enough to check!

exercises to improve procedural memory in N4:


Mental exercises for long term memory can be found here:




  • Do jigsaw puzzles.

    Sounds too easy but it works. You’ll find your association recall gets much faster if you do them regularly. If you can't find any with pictures you like, make your own!

Play with codes

  • Write down the letters of the alphabet and put the numbers 1-26 above them.

    Write yourself notes using the numbers only and read them in a week’s time, seeing if you can remember what they say. An even better method is to work with a partner and write each other coded notes that you then have to decipher. Practise working out what the code would be for random phrases or words, in your head without using pen and paper.

If you speak two or more languages, practise translating phrases from one to the other.

Mind maps improve eidetic memory too.

  • Exercises for improving declarative memory in N5

Choose one page of any fiction book at random and read through it once. Put the book away out of your sight and answer the following questions:


Who was the main character mentioned on that page?


  1. What other characters were mentioned on the page?

  2. What were the main objects referred to on the page?

  3. How much information do you have that tells you where the action was talking place?

  4. How much information do you have that tells you when the events were taking place?

  5. If there was speaking, who spoke?

  6. What was the most significant event occurring on the page?

  7. What was the number of the page?


You can vary this technique and use it with non-fiction, magazine articles, film reviews and whatever you want to play with.


  • Do crosswords

-but not with cryptic clues. By challenging ourselves to retrieve or generate answers we can improve our recall.

  • Test yourself

Experiments show that with retrieval practice, everything gets substantially better ("everything" includes target memory; cue for the stimulus that evinces the target; and association of the relationships between things. [83]

Pretend you are setting an exam or quiz for students of the subject you are learning. If you study in this mode, noting down the issues it will be important for students to remember and what sort of questions you could ask to see if they have the basics, you can often pre-empt an entire exam and predict many of the actual questions!

  • Exercise for N5 & N6

Give the different letters of the alphabet the numerical values 1-26 [A=1, B=2 etc]. Try to think of words in which the sum of the letters adds up to 40. Next time you can use a different figure.

  • Exercise for improving working memory in N6

Open any book at random 6 times and write down the first word on each page you arrive at. Hide the list out of your sight and wait five minutes [just get on with your daily tasks].

After 5 minutes, write down a random list of four two-figure numbers. Hide the numbers out of your sight and immediately try to write them down a second time from memory.

Now try to remember as many words from the first list as you can.

Now check your words & numbers against you original lists.

Finally, write a few short sentences describing something you did last summer [where, when, what, why, who with].

If you had difficulty with the last task, your long term memory needs attention [do exercises to improve LTP].



Working memory clipboard augmenting (needs assistant or programmable way of randomizing items):


The assistant reads out loud to you [or you read through once on a screen] a set of random digits or words. The sets should consist of from 2 to 10 items. You repeat them immediately following the reading. The assistant then increases the list size until forgetting is consistent. With practice, you can more than double your clipboard capacity.

A similar experiment may also be arranged using letters of the alphabet, different colors, nouns, simple geometrical shapes or short phrases.

Unusually high scores in working memory clipboard retention are possible if the sets are mentally organized into sub-groups are then given their own label or code.


  • Exercise for all networks

Sit down comfortably and link your hands together in your lap. Pick an issue you would like to consider –this can be any subject, problem or question.

Looking at your hands, consider the physical material aspects of the problem or issue. How does the subject relate to you physical or material health and wellbeing?

Look straight ahead. Consider any emotional aspects of the subject you have in mind. Now think about how imagination might be applied to it.

Look up and to your right. Keep your eyes in that position as you consider how creativity relates to the subject in mind. How might the issue affect groups and individuals?

Look up and to your left and think about the intellectual aspects of the issue. How confident do you feel about your understanding of it?

Look straight upwards [lean your head back against a cushion if you want, but do not lie down] and decide what are your priorities and where this issue ranks by comparison. [Remember to keep ‘sanity’ and ‘health’ up at the top or you won’t be in any good shape to decide the others!] Consider whether or not you need more information in order to adequately understand whatever you are thinking about to your own satisfaction. If the issue is a problem, now is when you consider the solution. If it is a subject you are interested in, ask yourself in which areas have you learned enough?


just for fun: test spatial imagination

Which of the shapes below does not match the test object? [answer at end of tutorial]





Footnotes, Refs (Answers at end)

1. (used to be known as ‘implicit’ or 'nondeclarative' memory, so called because much of it is unconscious. 'Explicit' or 'declarative' memory meant conscious.)

2. http://www.neurology.org/content/57/11/2054.short

3. S. Murray Sherman and R. W. Guillery http://mitpress.mit.edu/catalog/item/default.asp?tid=10680&ttype=2

4. http://www.livescience.com/980-brain-boots-computer.html

5. You will not find the mainstream agreeing with us here. Don't worry; just remember it doesn't matter what we call things as long as we define them carefully. Then other reaesrchers can come along later and call them 'Foo Bong' or 'Diddly Dong' or whatever they want to.

6. Packard, M G; and Knowlton, B J; “Learning and memory functions of the Basal Ganglia”


7. Laure Rondi-Reig & team, Cerebellum Shapes Hippocampal Spatial Code, Science 21 October 2011: Vol. 334 no. 6054 pp. 385-389. http://medicalxpress.com/news/2011-10-cerebellar-neurons-dark.html

8. See NHA Library/Theory & Research/ “An Update on Memory Editing 2004-2011”

9. E. E. Smith and S. M. Kosslyn (2007). Cognitive Psychology: Mind and Brain (1st ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall. ISBN 0131825089 p. 214).

10. Saywell N, Taylor D (2008) The role of the cerebellum in procedural learning – are there implications for physiotherapists’ clinical practice?. Physiother Theory practice. 2008- Oct; 24 (5); 321 - 8

11. Kolb, B; Whishaw I (2008). Fundamentals of Human Neuropsychology, 6th ed. New York: Worth Publishers. ISBN 0716795868.

12. Goodale MA, Milner AD (1992). "Separate visual pathways for perception and action". Trends Neurosci. 15 (1): 20–5.

13. Fix, James D. (2008). "Basal Ganglia and the Striatal Motor System". Neuroanatomy (Board Review Series) (4th ed.). Baltimore: Wulters Kluwer & Lippincott Wiliams & Wilkins. pp. 274–281. ISBN 0-7817-7245-1.

14. Alain, Claude; Woods, David L.; Knight, Robert T. (1998). "A distributed cortical network for auditory sensory memory in humans". Brain Research 812 (1–2): 23–37.

15. Ward, J (2009). The Student's Guide to Cognitive Neuroscience. Psychology Press. ISBN 1848720033.

16. McGaugh, JL (2004). "The Amygdala modulates the consolidation of memories of emotionally arousing experiences". Annual Review of Neuroscience 27: 1–28.

17. Cowan, Nelson. (2005). Working Memory Capacity. Psychology Press. New York.

18. Todd, J, & Marois, R. (2004). Capacity limit of visual short term memory in human posterior parietal cortex. Retrieved from http://www.ioi.knaw.nl/viscog/temp/Todd%20(2004)%20Nature.pdf

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21. http://www.psych-it.com.au/Psychlopedia/article.asp?id=313

22. Kandel, E., Schwartz, J., & Jessell, T. (1991). Principles of Neural Science. 3rd edition. New York: NY. Elsevier.

23. http://memorylab.stanford.edu/Publications/papers/KAHN_JNP05.pdf

ALSODevlinetal.2003; Floel et al.2004; Kohler et al.2004

24. Johnson, M.K., Hashtroudi, S., & Lindsay, S.(1993). Source Monitoring.Psychological Bulletin, 114, 3-28.

25. Winograd, E. (1988). Some observations on prospective remembering. In M. M. Gruneberg, P. E. Morris & R. N. Sykes (Eds.), Practical Aspects of Memory: Current Research and Issues. Vol. 2, pp. 348-353.

26. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1692423/

27. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1692423/pdf/9854254.pdf

28. I know of two such cases whose early memories I can personally confirm; having been there when they happened. Both adults can remember clearly details of events from their first year of life.

29. Salzman, C. Daniel and Fusi, Stefano; Emotion, Cognition, and Mental State Representation in Amygdala and Prefrontal Cortex, Annual Review of Neuroscience Vol. 33: 173-202, 2010.)

30. Professor Zafar Bashir, Dr Clea Warburton and Dr Douglas Caruana, "Study provides potential explanation for mechanisms of associative memory." December 13th, 2011. http://medicalxpress.com/news/2011-12-potential-explanation-mechanisms-associative-memory.html

31. Mark G. Stokes, working with Kathryn Atherton, Eva Zita Patai, and Anna Christina Nobre, Long-term memory prepares neural activity for perception, PNAS, November 22, 2011, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1108555108

32. Sara 2000; Nadel et al. 2000b; Alberini 2005; Dudai 2006.

33. Mohs, Richard C. "How Human Memory Works." 08 May 2007.

34. Toshiyuki Nakagaki; "Japan scientists hope slime holds intelligence key." December 28th, 2011. http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-12-japan-scientists-slime-intelligence-key.html

slime mold fun:



35. Beau Lotto, http://www.lottolab.org/articles/publiccolour.asp

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ALSO Kanayama, N.; Sato, A.; Ohira, H. (2007). "Crossmodal effect with rubber hand illusion and gamma-band activity". Psychophysiology 44 (3): 392–402

42. O'Nuallain, Sean. "Zero Power and Selflessness: What Meditation and Conscious Perception Have in Common". Retrieved 2009-05-30. Journal: Cognitive Sciences 4(2).

ALSO Kaufman, Marc (January 3, 2005). "Meditation Gives Brain a Charge, Study Finds".

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47. Brainwave frequency 'norms' differ slightly between individuals. "Alpha" can be anything from 7-13 Hz; we are using average examples here.

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Answers to 'random congruous association'

Individual associations may vary, core concepts should not.



A computer =Time

overall associations:


Matter –a computer is a physical object

Space –is something you may have at home or in your surroundings

Density –how much memory has it got? How many computers do we need?

Time –performs procedures dependant on timing, is a machine, is a tool to be creative with, demands accuracy in programming and rectitude in use

Energy –can both inspire you and tire you

Power –gives access to great amounts of information, can help self development, does cause a large electricity use.


  • A cave = Matter

overall associations:

Matter –is a physical object, can be a shelter or home, is solid, a place where creatures give birth, can hibernate or sleep, it’s dark and private and safe

Space –you can go inside, you can explore, you can make it a personal space

Density –is the air fresh? How damp is it? Is it inhabited? How many such caves are there?

Time –useful in wintertime or hot weather. Creative possibilities [cave art]

Energy –a place to regain energy, a place easy to keep warm, somewhere to store resources

Power –good place to develop spiritual abilities, not a good place to get satellite TV


  • A Bavarian cyclist’s jockstrap = Matter

overall associations:

Matter –is a physical object, is protection for physical body

Space –a cyclist is likely to go exploring and need maps, navigation etc. Where did I leave my jockstrap?

Density –how strong is the jockstrap? Does it fit? How many jockstraps are needed here?

Time –jockstrap is a basic tool. how long will the jockstrap last? Does wearing it improve the cyclist’s time? When did I last wash it?

Energy –cycling improves physical energy and can inspire you, jockstrap may assist this.

Power –may reduce distractions to clear-headedness


Your associations are unlikely to be exactly the same as ours, so now you can look at these things from two points of view.


Answer to “test spatial imagination”: The top, right-hand shape is not the same.






Last Updated on Monday, 29 May 2017 13:32