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Last Updated: 12.06.23

Understand & Improve Memory Using Science-​​Based Tools

In this episode, Huberman explores the mechanisms behind memory formation and ways to enhance learning and memory. He discusses the impact of neurochemicals, hormones, and various protocols like repetition, caffeine, cold exposure, sleep, meditation, and vision. Huberman also delves into exercise, osteocalcin, photographic memory, facial recognition, and déjà vu phenomena.

Key Takeaways

The nervous system’s primary job is to convert physical events into electrical and chemical signals, which are the language of the nervous system

Memory is a bias in which perceptions will be replayed again in the future

Memory is a bias in the likelihood that specific chains of neurons (neural circuits) will be activated again

  • For example, remembering your name involves specific chains of neurons in your brain that represent your name

Most of the time, learning occurs because existing neurons strengthen their connections through co-​​activation, not because new neurons are added

Explicit Declarative Memory: knowing something and being able to declare it

  • Example: knowing your name or the color of your partner’s hair

Explicit procedural memory: knowing how to perform an action sequence

  • Example: knowing how to walk or ride a bike

Implicit memory: Subconscious understanding of information or motor patterns

  • Example: walking without thinking about how to walk

Emotions can enhance memories, even for non-​​emotional information

  • Neurochemicals in the brain and body play a role in this enhancement

High emotional states help learning, but it’s the neurochemical state (adrenaline, norepinephrine, cortisol) that allows memory to be stamped down quickly

Best time to spike adrenaline is late in the learning process or immediately after

Spiking adrenaline before learning can increase alertness but is less effective for memory enhancement

Chronic elevation of adrenaline can be detrimental to learning and immune system function

Exercise has been shown to enhance learning and memory in numerous studies

  • Cardiovascular exercise increases Dentate Gyrus neurogenesis (creation of new neurons)
  • Dentate Gyrus is a subregion of the hippocampus involved in memory formation and consolidation

Osteocalcin: a chemical released from bones that acts as a hormone

  • Released during load-​​bearing exercise
  • Travels to the brain and improves hippocampal function and memory

Photographic memory: the ability to visually scan and commit a page of text to memory with little effort

  • People with photographic memory may struggle with auditory memory and learning physical skills

Super recognizers: individuals with an exceptional ability to recognize faces and match them to templates

  • Highly employable by government agencies

Face blindness: some people struggle to recognize faces, even of people they know well

Study found that when people choose what to take photos of, their memory for those objects, places, or people is enhanced

  • Applies to both camera photos and mental snapshots
  • The act of taking the photo itself is what enhances memory

Taking photos can degrade the ability to remember auditory information

Taking mental snapshots can enhance visual memory significantly

  • Almost as effective as taking an actual photograph with a camera


Adrenaline Release after Learning to Improve Memory


Zone Two Cardiovascular Exercise for Memory


Meditation for Memory



We recommend using this distillation as a supplemental resource to the source material.

  • Understand & Improve Memory Using Science-​​Based Tools

    Huberman Lab #72

    Huberman explains memory formation and enhancement, covering neurochemicals, protocols, exercise, and unique memory phenomena like photographic memory and déjà vu.

Full Notes

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