Diagnose Your Own Memory

Every student of memory should be able to diagnose his own case, and determine which is the stronger, his visual or aural memory. The following tests and drills are suggested: Select two paragraphs of about equal length and similar construction. Test your visual memory by reading one of them silently and carefully—testing the memory after each reading to see if you have it, and note how many times you have to read it before you have it accurately memorized so you can repeat it without looking at the lines. For your aural test, take a similar paragraph and have some one read it to you aloud, clearly and distinctly so that your ear will have a fair chance to record an accurate impression. Test your memory after each reading, and see how many times the paragraph must be read to you before you are able to reproduce it from memory. Then compare the results of the two tests. This will have to be done many times before you can reach a definite conclusion in regard to the relative strength or weakness of your visual powers, for the reason that paragraphs differ, both hi thought and construction, and if your degree of interest in the thought of one is greater than in the other—regardless of the similarity of form, you will grasp it more quickly.


Try this test on the following selections, care-fully note the result and form your own conclusion about your visual and aural powers. Use paragraph “A” for your visual, paragraph ” B ” for your aural test—this will give your visual memory a slight handicap as paragraph “A” is longer than paragraph ” B.”


” He who knows, and knows that he knows, is wise—follow him. He who knows, and knows not that he knows, is asleep—wake him.

He who knows not, and knows that he knows not, is ignorant—teach him.

He who knows not, and knows not that he knows not, is a fool—shun him.”


” It is not what you eat, but what you digest that makes you strong.

It is not what you earn, but what you save that makes you rich. It is not what you learn, but what you remember that makes you wise.”

Of course, if you have partially memorized either of these paragraphs before, it is not a fair test,nor is it a fair test to read aloud, as this records a double impression, both visual and aural.

Now make your test on these two verses, for a change and you will find out which is more difficult for you to remember, prose or poetry.


” Oh, East is East, and West is West, And never the twain shall meet, Till earth and sky stand presently At God’s great judgment seat.

But there is neither East nor West

Border nor breed nor birth,

When two strong men stand face to face, Though they come from the ends of the earth.”


” Oh, it’s home again, and home again; America for me,

I want a ship that’s homeward bound to plow the rolling sea To the blessed land of room-enough beyond the ocean bars Where the air is full of sunlight and the flag is full of stars.”

Next, make a double impression test on the following stanza. See how many times you will have to read it aloud before you master it. Reading aloud combines hearing and seeing.

” The moving finger writes, and having writ moves on,

Nor all your piety or wit can lure it back to cancel half a line, Nor all your tears wash out a word of it.”

Your next test to determine the comparative efficiency of your visual and aural powers should be more ambitious. Go to hear a good lecture or sermon. Listen with concentrated attention, but take no notes. A few hours later, see how much of what you have heard you are able to reproduce. Try to give a synopsis of the central idea and the main points. A few days later, attend a movie for the same purpose—and in the same way test your ability to recall from the screen the story you have seen.


Personally, I regard the aural memory to be fully as important as the visual and urge its cultivation to an equal degree of efficiency. I am aware that some authorities hold a different view, rating the visual as all important and the aural of little account, but I would not regard any memory as well-balanced, unless the aural functioned as well as the visual. That is the ideal to work for an even balance of power with a perfect coordination of the two. To accomplish this ideal is far more difficult than it would be to slight the weaker and let it go, but it is also a far greater mental achievement. ‘

It is through the combination of these two sense impressions that we gain our greatest enjoyment. Over one hundred thousand persons jam the football stadium at Soldiers Field in Chicago to see (and hear) the classic football game between Southern California and Notre Dame. They see the school colors, the uniformed players, the great throng of people, the spectacular action of the game, play after play but simultaneously they hear the college yells, the music of the bands, the thud of the kick-off, and the wild cheering of the crowd as a brilliant play or a touchdown is made. A deaf man at a foot-ball game would miss almost as much as a blind man.

In the world of entertainment the latest development in the moving picture field has introduced the vitaphone, so that we may hear as well as see the actors, and I predict that this form will prove to be most popular and that the ” Talkies ” will be the leading attraction of the theatrical world in the future.

So it will be to the end of time, that the great appeal to mankind must be made to the eye and the ear. How requisite is it, then, that we should train these marvelous faculties to do teamwork!

A good memory requires both. It is impossible to compute what a vast amount of the sum total of hum an knowledge is gained through these two channels. Think what a world of human experience is summed up in those two simple, familiar phrases, ” I saw,” and ” I heard.” Surely the visual and aural senses give the memory an abundance of material to work upon. What use shall we make of it? That is the vital question.






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