How often have you heard of someone knowing something "backwards and forward(s)"? There is a reason for this in the etymology of the expression itself: it is generally perceived as being difficult for people who have learned and memorized something in a particular order to be able to learn and memorize it in a different order. Learning something "backwards" requires a (with apologies to Liam Neeson) special skill set. The skills involved are used both consciously and subconsciously every day by most people. In learning backwards, you'll have to use these skills consciously -- at least at first.
These skills include visualization (visualizing the list of items with eyes closed), creating acronyms (using the first letter of each image to create a word) and sensory association (i.e., linking a group of things to a simple song, or making them part of a simple story).
The benefits to backwards learning are tremendous. The process stimulates memory and recall, improves cognition and improves creativity.
Following are some lists of items for you to learn "forwards" and backwards. Since I'm not proctoring this exercise, I'll trust that you will be able to recite each of the following lists without cheating. One hint: The most bizarre or humorous associations are generally the most memorable.
1) A B C D E F G H I
2) 5 1 6 7 8 5 1 0 4
3) Apple, Snake, Pickle, Bicycle, Ruler
4) Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet
5) Sulfur, Phosphorous, Carbon, Oxygen, Hydrogen, Nitrogen
The video below provides an incredibly simple [oxymoron intentional] means of learning the entire alphabet backwards. This is a great way to be entertaining at social gatherings with friends who are either mathematicians or MENSA members...
Douglas E. Castle for the Braintenance Blog
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