PROCESS AND APPARATUS FOR FACILITATING THE MEMORIZING OF SOUNDS AND/OR WORDS
5 The present invention relates to a process for memorizing in an easy and relaxing way a set of sounds and/or words which is to be learnt.
The importance of memory in examinations, in the development of work skills, or in learning foreign languages is evident, since in all these cases what is known is only what has been successfully remembered. 0 The process in question adds a new aspect to learning, since it makes the memorizing process easy and pleasant, overcoming the usual impediments to learning, namely the time taken and the fatigue of multiple repetition of what is to be remembered.
The process according to the invention is based on two scientific findings: 5 - In the first place, it is known that the repetition of an acoustic stimulus creates stable and permanent records in the brain.
This fact has been established by practical experience over the centuries, as is shown by the importance assigned to the mnemonic exercise of repetition in periods preceding the mass distribution of the written word following the 0 development of printing.
Recent experiments have confirmed the importance of repetition for the memory, discovering actual biological changes in some parts of the brain structure before and after a repeated set of stimuli.
Secondly, it has also been found that the brain constructs stable records 5 even if the message is transmitted repeatedly to it below the attention threshold.
This mechanism has been clearly demonstrated by recent scientific research. In other words, we can say that the memorizing of material that has been read or heard previously is not dependent on whether the repetition is carried out 0 with the assistance of the subject's conscious volition.
Anyone who has listened to a disc many times in succession will be aware that the words become fixed in his memory, even if he has made no deliberate effort to remember them. Furthermore, it is possible to memorize material not only independently of the volition, but also without paying any conscious attention. 35 Scientific research into the processes of memorizing has demonstrated that it is sufficient for the subject to be exposed to a message registered by his auditory perception, while his attention is not necessarily engaged by it, to consolidate the memory of what the subject has heard.
What should be emphasized here is that it has been proved scientifically that there is a capacity for learning by passive memorizing, in other words that the brain is capable of receiving and "archiving" material without any voluntary effort, and that passive memorizing can take place without the need for conscious attention on the part of the subject.
The efficiency of the recall to consciousness of material learnt in this special way, which we might call "subliminal" (from the Latin "sub limen", meaning "below the threshold") is fully comparable to the results obtained by making a voluntary effort to repeat the material; some researchers even consider that the subliminal system is more efficient.
The ears are anatomical structures made to receive messages in the form of sound waves, which are then converted internally to impulses which are sent to the brain.
But there is another way of hearing a message, namely through vibrations. This mode of hearing is present when an audio message is converted to vibrations and these are transmitted directly to the brain by contact with the bony layer of the cranium.
The message is registered perfectly by the auditory nerve and is sent to the brain centres which process and record the received information. There is the famous case of Beethoven who, when afflicted with progressive deafness in the last years of his life, used to lay his head directly on the piano in order to "hear" the compositions he was playing.
This was undoubtedly an ingenious, if inconvenient, method for exploiting the same kind of transmission by vibration as that used by the present process. The surface of the piano acted as a transducer, converting the sounds to vibrations, and Beethoven was thus able to compensate for the deficiencies of his hearing by perceiving the vibrations of the instrument. However, it should be pointed out that it is impossible for a "non-hearing" person to use this process, since it is a necessary condition for receiving messages that the auditory nerve should be undamaged and that the individual should have already developed efficient areas of the brain for processing the sounds and understanding the words.
In order to convey the message, the process according to the invention provides for the use of a special instrument, called a transducer, which has the function of converting the messages within the base memory unit into vibrations. Indeed, it is only necessary to place the aforesaid transducer against the forehead to activate a "third eye" which leaves the first two completely free.
While a person is listening to a text through the frontal transducer, therefore, he can listen to any other sound source, such as a telephone ringer, a musical passage, or the voice of someone with whom he is conversing.
The listening conditions described above, in other words conditions below the threshold of conscious attention, are created easily, because it is simply necessary to adjust the intensity of the vibrations and the level at which the words and/or the sounds become indistinguishable to ensure that the brain can receive the message without engaging the consciousness with significant sounds. What is perceived is a virtually imperceptible sound.
The advantage is obvious: while the process is taking place, it is possible for a person to relax or carry out any other activity requiring attention, such as reading a magazine, listening to music, or talking on the telephone. One of the most surprising applications of the process according to the invention is memorizing during sleep.
This idea may seem incredible, since conventional mnemonic exercises, carried out in a state of complete wakefulness, would be impossible to perform while sleeping. However, where memorizing is concerned, it has been found that neither consciousness nor volition is necessary.
On the contrary, various studies have made it clear that conditions favourable to memorizing are established in the brain during sleep.
This particular predisposition is present in certain stages of sleep, corresponding to the periods of dreaming.
It is known that the brain is not at rest during the night, but has an activity which has been measured with instruments such as the electroencephalograph. When the electrical waves emitted by the brain were measured, it was found that, during the average eight hours of sleep, the mind passed through stages which were distinct from each other, and were characterized by different forms of brain activity.
To summarize, the process according to the invention consists of the following stages: a) recording a desired sequence of sounds and/or words on an apparatus which can reproduce them subsequently a number of times; b) sending the signals of the said reproduction of sounds and/or words to a transducer which can convert them into vibrations; c) placing the said transducer against an area of the bony layer of the cranium. The object of the invention is therefore the process described in the attached Claim 1, and also an apparatus for applying the process.
A more detailed description of the process according to the invention will now be given, with reference to the attached figure, which shows a preferred example of embodiment of an apparatus for applying the process.
As shown in the aforesaid figure, an apparatus 1 for applying the process according to the invention essentially consists of a recording apparatus 2 based on known methods and systems, by means of which it is possible to record a desired sequence of sounds and/or words, such as a musical passage or the sounds produced by reading a text, on a recording medium.
The apparatus 1 is also provided with means which enable it to repeat the said sequence of sounds and/or words a number of times consecutively, and with a programming unit, of a type known in the field of sound recording and reproduction. This programming unit is preferably equipped with a numeric keyboard with display 3d, made in such a way that the number of repetitions of a desired passage and the instants of the beginning and ending of the passage can be selected; and if necessary with a timer which can be preset to determine the moments of the said beginnings and ends of the repetitions of the passage. In more advanced embodiments, the inventor provides for the use of a microprocessor for executing the functions listed above and others which may be required according to particular needs of the user. The sequence of sounds and/or words is sent from the recording apparatus 2 in the form of voltage pulses to a transducer 4 which can convert them into vibrations of suitable frequency. The connection between the recording apparatus 2 and the transducer 4 is formed by means of a simple cable 5, normally of the bipolar type, being a known type used in this field of application.
In order to implement the process according to the invention, it is simply necessary to record a desired sequence of sounds and/or words on the recording apparatus 2, to use the numeric keyboard 3 to set the parameters described above, including the number of repetitions of the passage consisting of the said sounds and/or words, and then to place the transducer 4 against an area of the bony layer of the skull. As shown in the drawing, the transducer 4, which can be made in such a way that it weighs even less than an ordinary pair of spectacles, can be placed on the user's nose, being kept in position by means of an elastic strap 6 applied around his head.
In another embodiment of the apparatus 1, not shown in the drawing, the transducer 4 is incorporated in the apparatus, and terminates externally in a flat surface on which the head can be laid when the user is in bed at night. In this case, it is also possible to use a simple loudspeaker as the transducer. The apparatus 1, in this case, is obviously fitted inside a pillow so that no discomfort is caused by laying the head on it.
With both of the embodiments described, or with other similar ones which could be produced by following the teachings contained in the attached claims, it is
possible to implement without difficulty the process according to the invention, which enables sequences of sounds and/or words to be memorized without any need to sacrifice the time required to carry out other activities.