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Aboriginal technology aids memory - NRC

Aboriginal technology aids memory – NRC

Memory technology from Aboriginal Australians appears to work well for first-year medical students, and is even better than Western memory technology for “short-term memory”. This is evidenced by a test performed on 76 students who had to memorize a list of twenty butterfly names. A research team led by brain scientist David Reiser (Monash University, Australia) recently described the research At PLOS ONE.

Both memory technologies work with “localization” in a space or landscape of objects that symbolize what must be remembered. This spatial basis of technology is not surprising, because mobility and spatial insight were particularly important in the evolution and survival of humans: we To think my place.


Ancient Western technology puts things to remember as a series of surprising things in a familiar home, which you walk through in your mind. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, this technique was somewhat forgotten, but snatched away by the influential historical study of Francis Yates, The art of memory (1966). The technique became widely known through a personal exploration of Joshua Foer and his bestseller Walk on the moon with Einstein (2011). This “palace of memory” style goes back to the classic discourse of M. Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) and others.

Australian architecture, dating nearly 50,000 years back to the first inhabitants of Australia, is the basis of the famous “Dream Time Stories”, which make Australian landscapes “sparkle” with ancient knowledge of experts. Knowledge of water sources, ancient relationships, and much more was passed on almost unchanged from generation to generation according to strict ritual. Aboriginal technology weaves the localization of memory points into a mythological story, an added bonus compared to the short memory. In any case, the educational and psychological function of the story has attracted more scientific interest in recent years. at A completely different investigation For example, it was concluded a few years ago that the storytelling of hunter-gatherers and harvesters appears to fulfill many of the educational functions for which children are sent to school in modern society.

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Also read about Indigenous “Dream Time Stories”: Survive thanks to knowledge that has been passed down for thousands of years

Watch a documentary on nature

In the study of current memory, after a short learning period and a first test, the participating students were divided into three groups: Australian and Western method and a group without special instruction. Students appeared in Australian Engineering to find a list of twenty names of a butterfly (hairstreak, patch, checkerspot, crescent, nymph, swallow Thus) the best and most complete, which is three times better than in the first “ untrained ” test, the memory short students performed twice the performance of the untrained students (who had to watch a documentary about nature while training others) were able to improve their scores By half.

Later researchers wrote, the task was very easy. Because some medical students (17 out of 76) actually scored 20 out of 20 on the “untrained” initial test and then kept this score. The memory technique students were using on their own has not actually been investigated. Another disadvantage of the study was that only eight participants attended after a repeated six-week session.

In the PLOS ONE article, the researcher also describes another study at Monash University, which looked at whether Aboriginal technology could be incorporated into the regular educational curriculum: in the teaching of a citric acid cycle. However, the researchers write, the participating food engineering students responded enthusiastically. “It is easier to remember a story than a full page of facts,” wrote one grateful student on the evaluation form.

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