What was your most embarrassing moment?

Imagine being away from home, stuck in an emergency, your smartphone dead due to low charge, and you can’t remember your wife’s mobile number! I found myself in such a situation once. Another time, our senior colleague Dr. Deepak Haldipur Ji could recite my mobile number effortlessly, yet I couldn’t remember his!

The advent of smartphones and various apps has significantly reduced the need to memorize information. Consequently, dependency on smartphones has become one of humanity’s most rapidly adopted habits.

I have friends who can easily recall numerous mobile numbers, birthdates, and anniversaries, and I often wondered how they do it. This curiosity led me to explore ways to improve my memory. Surprisingly, when I referred to some books on memory enhancement, I found that I was already using many of those techniques.

What’s a lady between two majors? Or, how did we, as undergraduate medical students, remember the cranial nerves? Through Mnemonics! I learned so many mnemonics to study anatomy, yet eventually, I needed a mnemonic to remember the mnemonics themselves!

Mnemonics are mental models or memory aids that help us recall vast amounts of information. While Gerald R. Miller demonstrated that mnemonics improve recall, Tony Buzan popularized them. Miller’s research indicated that students who regularly used mnemonics achieved significantly better scores, up to 77%. Mnemonics are particularly valuable for lists such as characteristics, steps, stages, parts, phases, etc.

Mnemonics are effective because they rely on our senses like vision, hearing, and smell. The nine basic types of mnemonics are based on music, rhyme, picture, name, expression/word, spelling, model, organization, and connection. We can even create more types of mnemonics, limited only by the extent of our imagination. As a visual person with a love for art and craft, I find images, models, and connections particularly useful.

Picture mnemonics or models are handy when studying radiology as non-radiologists. For instance, the “ice-cream cone” appearance helps identify ossicles on HRCT Temporal bone, and the “signet ring” appearance signifies a lateral semicircular canal. However, we need not limit our imagination to existing mnemonics. We can create our own to aid recall. Don’t worry about others’ acceptance. What we use today and teach others can spread through word of mouth and might be cited by our colleagues tomorrow, becoming urban legends! I have used several mnemonics to study and teach HRCT Temporal bone. I recently attended a lecture on Temporal bone radiology by a colleague, who had incorporated these mnemonics into his presentation. That’s how urban legends grow!

Learn some pictorial mnemonics as you master essential Radiology of the neck required for an Otorhinolaryngologist in our new course. Join us on 16th January 2022 at 4.00 pm IST for this webinar. Registration is free but mandatory. 

With best regards,

Prof. Dr. Prahlada N.B.
10 January 2022

Leave a reply