Visual And Aural Memory

“Sight and Sound, Those Twin Blessings of Mankind.”

He who would develop a good memory must clearly understand what memory is, and the channels through which impressions are received. Memory can be classified under several different heads. There are many of these, but for practical purposes we shall discuss in this chapter, only the two main channels which receive the impressions to be recorded. These two are the visual and the aural.

The visual memory records that which comes to us through the eye, or, in other, words, it is the avenue which helps you to remember all that you see. It is the most common form and generally the best-developed part of the memory because most used. Here again we find that inflexible law at work; the law of growth is the law of use. Non-use inevitably leads to weakness, deterioration, and decay. You must use a faculty if you wish it to grow and develop. It was the one talent not used which was lost. This applies even to the physical mechanism. Let the muscles of your arm go for a year without exercise, and the arm would become feeble and helpless.


How appalling, then, is the operation of this law on any function of the brain. Small wonder that some memories are so weak ! Most people use the visual faculty far more than the aural. This is the ” Movie ” age. We are learning to take our entertainment through the visual faculty. We have become accustomed to catching the quick flash of the scenes as one reel after another unwinds and the story unfolds. Most of us receive our deepest impressions through the eyes. Not only from the artistic setting of the photoplay, but from the bold headlines of the daily newspaper or from the every-day scenes which flash in review through the brain in this busy, hustling, teeming every-day life all about us. ” Seeing is believing,” according to an old saying. But in the case of the gallant crew of the Southern Cross, dodging through the clouds of a moonlit night, speeding through uncharted airlanes high over the Pacific Ocean, hearing is seeing. Their ears are their eyes. An audible, but invisible, radio beacon marks their course.

The aural memory records that which comes to us through the ear. It is not, as a rule, nearly so well developed as the visual, chiefly because it is not used so much. Most people remember what they see far better than what they hear. Musicians are an exception, as their training has developed a highly efficient aural sense. They are “Audils ” not because of ” Peculiar Temperament,” as many people suppose, but because they have trained this faculty to the nth degree. Instead of being peculiar in this respect, I would say that they are far more representative of a normal product of higher civilization than are the masses who are deficient in aural sense. The auditory faculty should be highly developed in every one.

Other exceptions to this rule are found in the man who comes home after a sermon or a lecture and gives an accurate outline of it and repeats much of it line after line or word after word, or the woman who can hum or sing the melody of the opera after hearing it once. They have developed the aural memory to a highly efficient degree by its use. Others who listen to the same sermon or to the same opera may be unable to reproduce even the text or any part of the melody. Their aural sense is weak and undeveloped, and generally they have no sense of tone values. But these same people may be able to give you reel after reel of a movie they have seen. They remember what they see, but they fail utterly to retain what they hear. It is surprising how many have this aural weakness. Just make a test of this for yourself, not only in your own ease, but ask a number of different people to give you the text of a sermon they have heard recently or the central idea of a lecture. Some may be able to give you a free translation, but very few can give you the text accurately. They are like the little girl who took a long, cold drive to church one day over rough roads—upon returning home her father asked her if she remembered the text of the sermon, and she replied, ” Many, are cold, but few are frozen.”






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