Short-term visual memory training

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Saccade width pixels.
Number of symbols symbols.

S (novice)
S/T (novice)
S/T/U (intermediate)
STUX (expert)
STUXL (expert)

In short term visual memory training you see several letters in front of you for a second, and then you need to count the number of occurrences of each letter. The more letter of more types you need to count over a larger area, the harder the exercise. You can choose which part you want to work on (saccade size, capacity of memory, accuracy of memory). A normal superlearner should be able to read a flash of 9 letters of 3 types over saccade of 400.
Do not count the letters from the screen: form a mental image of the screen and count the letters from the mental image. Practice for 10 min per day and after several months, you will have better photographic memory.

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198 thoughts on “Short-term visual memory training”

  1. do you suggest listening to any music while performing this exercise or would music distract from what we are trying to do? Also we need to be chunking them together, where should i be looking?

  2. Am I allowed to move my eyes from place to place, or am I supposed to look only at the centre of the box?

    1. In this particular exercise you can do whatever you want, but if you minimize eye movement you will improve performance.

  3. Is it possible to randomise the number of letters that appear? e.g. instead of saying “7″ … and then i know i am seeing 7 letters …. could we say between “6 and 9″, this way we don’t know the number of letters before seeing the flash. This would definitely add a level of complexity to the exercise

  4. I’m forming my mental image but not exactly counting all of the occurrence of each letter. There are frequent times when I can only remember and count 2 letters from my mental. I can get the count of the 3rd letter by subtracting the total of those 2 letters from my total characters so I can still get perfect score.

    Is this an acceptable strategy? Should I aim to remember all the characters (in a clustered mode) in my mental image?

    1. It is OK for beginner level. When you choose more symbols you will be forced to remember everything.

  5. I’m getting longer and shorter flashes, sometimes no flash at all! Are the flashtimes supposed to be equally long and if so, is there a solution like downloadable script/software. Let me guess, the app? ;-)

    1. Totally. I cannot solve your connection stability. Basically, if you use PC with reasonable connection speed and memory, there should be no issues… Yes, we do want to offer the app….

  6. How can you chunk these letters? There is no time to think about how to chuck them. There is only time to remember en recall.

    1. Start with few letters. As you increase the number of letters and train, you will see the letters in geometric patterns. These patterns are your basic chunking mechanism.

    1. I am not an athlete, I do not need to train. When I do my research, I am pretty fast. I think I read 3000wpm last time I measured, and I am not trying to go beyond this speed.

  7. the app(on novice mode) always shows the max qty.
    this app to be useful should run through a series of screen displays.
    say 2(novice) or 3 or 5 or 10(hardest).
    also speed setting as well.

  8. I average nearly 80 – 100 percent on a 9 letters S/T/U level should I move on to S/T/U/X and still keep this exercise active on a daily basis or should I stick with S/T/U till I get 100 percent accuracy on it. It is hard to determine if you have acquired mental improvements since there is no way to monitor this factor unless you write or remember each round percentage it may be useful to add a login that allows you to monitor your daily progression. It may also be helpful to also place a timer on this because 10 min is not long but it is quite easy to get lost in trying to master it.

  9. Great exercise! Thanks.
    So 9 letters of 3 types at what wpm skill correspond, more or less (leaving aside comprehension and recall for a moment)?

  10. Hello, i just came across this exercise game and just wondered the total accurracy value doesnt make any sense sometimes. How is it calculated in case of false values?

    1. Number of symbols: 4
      Level: S/T novice
      Accuracy in S: (1/3),
      Accuracy in T: (3/1),
      Total accuracy: 33.333333333333%
      Accuracy in S: (2/1),
      Accuracy in T: (4/3),
      Total accuracy: 66.666666666667%
      Accuracy in S: (7/3),
      Accuracy in T: (1/1),
      Total accuracy: 50%

      1. Try to get the whole image in one glance, and not follow the letters. 90% @ 7 letters is realistic for one week of training.

    2. There may be bugs in computation. We are in the process of moving to mobile version with a different code. Focus on memory not the score.

  11. When I’m on 8 symbols (3 letters), most of the time Im not been able to grasp the whole picture before its gone, its too fast for me.. usually when I get 100% its because I get right 2 letters and the rest is what left. How can I improve that?
    I’ve also noticed that couple of minutes into the drill Im getting weaker

    1. Try generating/recognizing patterns. If the symbols appear independent there is only so much you can grasp.
      Also, the visual angle may be not optimal for you. You need to get the whole picture with peripheral vision without scanning with your eyes.
      There are specifical exercises for visual angle….

  12. Hi Dr Lev, I do face the same problem of gravitating towards S and T, getting those two right and subtracting to get U. Despite focusing in the middle of the screen I still naturally notice S and T first. Is there any way to remedy this? Thanks.

    1. No need. This is a good strategy. When we memorize text we do not need to remember EVERYTHING, but just enough to reconstruct the whole text.

  13. My accuracy is 80%-100% on 400/6/TS but after 4-5 minutes of practice on same level it become much harder and I my accuracy reduce to 30%-50%, any idea why? what should I do about it?

    1. Probably you are thinking about every step. Once you get used to the process it should be automatic (almost effortless). Try to “go with the flow” and see what happens.

  14. The way I tend to play the game is a bit of and i’m not entirely sure if its the correct way. I imagine weird shapes around the same letters.
    For instance if there are 4 letters (T and S) one S is in between the two T’s and the other is in the far right corner of the square i’ll imagine a weird shape connecting the 2 T’s by overlapping the S, and another shape connecting the S in between the T’s and the S in the far right corner on the screen.
    (They are not necessarily shapes but doodles weaving around the connecting the same letters).
    Should I stop doing performing the exercise this way or continue ?

    1. I’m curious about this too. I actually do the same thing, and I don’t think it’s the same as the strategy found in the KeyToStudy schools. Is this really a good strategy that gets at the heart of what this exercise is trying to train?

      1. Not sure what you mean. Please notice there are no KeyToStudy schools currently available. Anna teaches 1:1 via Skype. Jonathan uses/teaches his own classes based on a small subset of the keytostudy methodologies and some memory techniques he collected along the way.

  15. Hi, great exercise, Dr. Levi!

    I am doing it for a couple of weeks now.

    For those who want to make it faster, just press F5 + enter when the letters dissappear. As there is no progress tracking, it won´t matter. It is helping me a lot! :D

    Cheers, superlearners!

  16. Hi Dr. Lev,

    how long am I supposed to keep the mental picture in memory? I’m able to form a mental picture and recall the letters, but very soon (usually when I’m counting the letters, or right after I’m done) the mental image is gone, so I guess the mental image only stays in my memory for 2-3 seconds. Is it normal or I need more exercise to better my short term memory?


    1. In this particular exercise, the mental picture should be stable for several seconds, enough to recreate what you read from the mental picture.
      When we consider speedreading, the speed is the essence. for memorization, we aim for stable recall. So we pause at the key positions (usually after each section and longer after each chapter) to strengthen the visualization, link it to other stuff we know, and even take notes on paper/computer.

  17. In the source of the answer form, please change:
    <input type="text" value="0"
    <input type="text" onfocus="if(this.value == '0') { this.value = ''; }" value="0"

    this will remove the 0 if you put in a different value instead of creating 02 for instance or 20.

    For the rest, tough but nice excercises.

  18. Hi there, I am not encouraged by my progress after one day of practice. I am usually unable to find groups of letters fast enough (level 400/6) and if I do, I often forget what I saw before I can mentally count what I saw. I realize day 1 is just starting out, but from what I read/heard from Levi’s class I thought I would be at least able to put letters into groups. Is this normal at all? Thanks!

  19. Hi, in two days, I was able to reach the intermediate level with ten word but I am not really sure if I am doing it right. To perform the task, I link all the similar letters to form a figure and then try to keep those figures in my mind. But it seems like it’s easier for me to create few figures with five or seven letters than to create several figures with two to three letters. And also, it is easier tp create figures with similar letters than figures with different letters. I am not sure if what I am doing is right or wrong. Thanks!

  20. Cannot play properly. After you click on the Flash button, the next page shows up. It is below the fold. You have to scroll down. Once you scroll down, the letters are all gone.

  21. The page is laggy…after clicking on “flash” it takes sometimes too long time to refresh and you can barely see the letters, sometimes it does it automatically. Is something wrong with the website? Perhaps if you hide the comments it would help.

    1. This blog is not optimized for gaming. I wanted to test some concepts. If you want to do some real training, please apply for mobile beta.

  22. I’ve just used this a few times. It seems like knowing the total number of letters I’m looking for makes my mind behave very differently than if I don’t know the total number of letters that I seek. I suggest (and perhaps the app has it already) randomly adding or subtracting a letter from the target number would make my mind less likely to try and game the system and hence be more realistic.

    1. If you have 5 types of letters, knowing the exact number does not really help. If you feel you are cheating, use more letters.