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Using Memory Palace Technique to Boost Memory

Parul Solanki Mar 14, 2020
The memory palace technique, also known as the method of loci, is a popular mnemonic device that has been used by people for centuries. From ancient Roman orators to current memory champions, find out how the memory palace technique helps in boosting memory.
In Thomas Harris' novel Hannibal, the serial killer Hannibal Lecter uses memory palaces to store amazingly vivid memories of the art works, texts, and enactments of torture which he wishes to preserve intact in a four-dimensional building in his mind.
You must have heard of incredible stories where people can remember a long list of random numbers, or the order of a shuffled deck of cards. It may look like an incredible feat, but memorizing something is not very difficult, especially if you know and use a mnemonic strategy.
There are many memory devices such as chunking, the major system, and the 100 list which help in boosting memory.

One such incredible mnemonic device, that has been used since hundreds of years to improve memory, is the memory palace technique.
Also known as the method of loci or the journey method, the memory palace technique is based on the fact that human beings are extremely good at remembering places we know.
The memory palace refers to a place that is familiar; for example, our house or our workplace. By associating the items that we need to remember with familiar places, it is easy to recall a set of unrelated items.

History of the Memory Palace Technique

This technique is also known as the 'Roman Room' technique. There are a number of ancient Roman and Greek rhetorical treatises that mention the use of this technique. One such significant mention is made by Simonides of Ceos in the fifth century.
His story of the collapsing banquet hall, and how he identified the dead by remembering the places of the deceased guests, formed the basis of the method of loci (locations). It went on to become the cornerstone of ancient Greek academia, and was used extensively by venerable Roman orators to remember their speeches.

How to Use the Memory Palace Technique to Boost Memory

The basic principle of the memory palace technique is that in your imagination, if you can find your way around a place and leave things on the way, then the next time you take a trip to the same place, you would be able to find the things there. This technique makes memorizing as easy as finding your way around your house.

Choose Your Memory Palace

Pick a place that you are familiar with. This is because the ability to recall is based on how easily you can remember the place. Some good choices for this technique are your home, familiar routes, your current or former school or workplace, or any place in your neighborhood that you frequent, like a park. You should be able to visualize the place and the elements within it with ease.

Find Elements in the Palace

Make a list of the distinctive features in the place that you have imagined. If you are walking through your home, the first distinctive feature would be the front door, which can be associated with a certain thing. If you need to memorize your grocery list, then imagine the door with splatters of eggs on it.
As you move in, associate each element with items on the grocery list. So, imagine a pig sitting on the couch to remember that you need to buy ham. It is best to chart the elements in a certain order, maybe clockwise or counterclockwise, to enable easy retention.

Imprint the Images in the Mind

Look for innovative and unusual ways to associate the items that you need to remember with the elements in the memory palace. When you take a known image and combine it with the element, it is known as a memory peg.
To enhance visual associations, make sure that you look for crazy, unusual, and sometimes completely nonsensical associations. Ideally, the scene should be so unique and interesting that the memory easily retains it. For example, if you need to remember to buy milk, then picture a cat spilling milk all over your expensive carpet.

Visit the Memory Palace

When you need to recall the items, just visit your memory palace. Start your journey from the same point, and follow the same route you used when creating the palace. The memorized items will come to your mind easily as you walk along the path again.
A memory palace can be used for a long period of time, or reused to store completely new information. With practice, people are able to store and recall huge chunks of information as and when they need it. The best part about this memory technique is that it is fun and easy-to-use.
Some simple tips to help you remember things better with the memory palace technique include:

➦ Just imagine and recall. Avoid memorizing.
➦ Use funny, odd, and humorous image associations.
➦ Start simple. A simple grocery list is easier to memorize then all the Oscar winners for the year.
➦ Practice each day to make yourself a pro at memorizing.
Apart from Roman orators, the memory palace technique has been in prominence in recent years, thanks to eight-time world memory champion Dominic O'Brien, who used this method to memorize 54 decks of cards in sequence. Whether you want to remember history, timeliness, book structures, or any length sequences, the memory palace technique can help boost your memory.