The brain is a wonderful thing

So I was doing a review of a radical I have in guru.
“Ah, it’s the one that looks like treasure but it’s not” I think.
As I ponder it, I start whistling a melody.

10 seconder later I realise the radical is “narwhal” and that the song I had been whistling is “narwhal narwhal” (from the animated music video). Subconscious brain knew the radical 10 second before the conscious one did



I’ve no idea what that animated video is, but I know the feeling!

Related: I’ve learned that it’s usually good to accept your first inclination and not change your answer unless you’re absolutely CERTAIN your initial entry was wrong. I can’t count the number of times I’ve changed an answer, only to get it marked wrong when my first “guess” (actually subconscious recall) was correct.

You want the SRS to train your subconscious recall. That usually means entering whatever your subconscious tells you. Mnemonics are extremely helpful for the first several reviews, but when reviewing something you’ve not seen in a long while, it’s better IMO to answer with the first thing that pops into your head.

If your goal is to read Japanese as effortlessly as your native language (I’m still a long way from that goal, but getting closer daily) then you want immediate, effortless, subconscious recall at first sight anyway.

It’s a little dangerous if you accidentally burn an item this way (I only want to burn things I’m absolutely certain of). In general, though, I’m convinced that the little endorphin rush after getting something marked correct is better when it’s for something you only subconsciously recalled rather than after conscious, prolonged, fore-brain effort anyway.

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