1. On the next page there are pictures of 20 different things. To play, click on the "GO" button below. Look at the pictures on the page for 2 minutes.

2. When the time is up, the browser will automatically return you here. Then write down as many of the things as you can remember.

Ready, Set

3. After you've written down as many as you can remember, press the "CHECK" button and check your list. How many of the 20 things did you remember?


Maybe you think you'll get better at memorizing things if you practice a lot. Sorry, but it doesn't work that way. But you can get better by learning some clever tricks that help you out.


1. Here's a memory-improving trick to try. When you click on the "GO" button below, you'll see another set of 20 pictures for 2 minutes. While you are looking at the pictures, make up a story that has all those things in it. If you were looking at the last set of pictures, you might make up a story about a man named Mr. Apple who wanted to gather a basket of bananas so he could make a banana cake. He stood on a chair and used a broom to knock bananas out of a tree. The chair tipped and he fell right into a cactus. Ouch! He got out the Band-Aids and . . .

2. You get the idea. It's OK if the story is silly. Picture the story happening as you make it up.

Now try it.

3. Try to remember all the pictures by telling yourself the story. You don't have to write down the story—just write down the things that it helps you remember.

How did you do?


You probably remembered more things when you told a story about them. When you tell yourself a story, you are doing a couple of things.

First, you are connecting the different pictures so that when you remember one, you remember the others, too.

Second, you are making a mental picture that includes all these different things. Making a mental picture helps you remember something later.

You may have discovered that making up a story didn't help you remember all the objects—but you may find that it helps you remember some of the objects for a lot longer. When you make a mental picture, you use your long-term memory, and that picture may stick with you.


This brain-bending puzzle comes from the Exploratorium's Brain Explorer ,
a book available for purchase through our online store .

©2000 The Exploratorium