Is the Loci the Bread and Butter of Memory?

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#1 5 August, 2013 - 01:34
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Is the Loci the Bread and Butter of Memory?


As stated in earlier posts, my 10 year old and I are in the process of memory work. It's summer, so I didn't want to make so much work, but more fun. When I started I had high hopes of lots of memory accomplishments. We started a 100 person list (using the Major System). As we started to memorize I began to wonder how useful this would be. I weighed the efforts vs rewards and started to figure where the best outcome would be.

My 10 year old was very content trying to learn the 100 but I wanted to choose the best use of our time. I think the Loci is the bread and butter of the memory system. I put the 100 on the back burner and started to concentrate on the Loci.

Do you think the Loci the basis for memory?

5 August, 2013 - 01:59
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Not Bread and Butter so much as the foundation. Method of Loci is a fancy way of writing down what we do naturally, but it sytemises it. Draws your attention to something we all do subconsciously.

What it does is to trick the mind into paying attention to material it normally wants to gloss over or finds boring.

The really interesting stuff is figuring out what the best forms of loci work for your mind. This is why memory champions emphasize that the first association that pops into your head is the best one to use. A child's associations are going to be different to an adults - different experience bases and priorities for a start. They might focus on a taste, you on the restaurant. Hmm . . . .might pay to have your children do a visual diary of the summer. Those pages could be used as loci for them. Then patched into the Major system as an example. Play a game, give them a number or Major Image and see what they remember about the day. Just a thought.

Sounds like an interesting project you've got into there.

Good luck.

5 August, 2013 - 16:39
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I'm somewhat new as well, but from the reading that I've done, it very much seems like loci are a fundamental tool underlying most of the techniques.

Basically, the idea is that the brain is extremely powerful at doing visual-spacial recognition, and very mediocre at remembering pure data. To leverage the visual part, you can just visualize objects -- and I do this for short term lists and such (ex. I can fairly effectively memorize grocery or to-pack lists just by visualizing all of the objects lying on a flat surface together). But organizing these visual memories using spacial memory just makes it tremendously easier. You develop an intuition that something is in a place, even if you don't quite recall what is there. For example, I can memorize the list of 15 objects that I need to pack (for vacation) visually, but if I really want to remember them, I'd spread them around some locations, so even if I fail to remember what they are in particular, I can remember that there's supposed to be something there. If I didn't do this, I could forget an object and forget that I forgot it.

However, the brain is really an associative system. So while loci are a very powerful tool, a good trick is integrating your placed objects into the loci that you place them. For example, lets say a glass of water is a mnemonic for something, and it's on a shelf. This is pretty good already, but what if I had the glass of water spilling on the shelf, and pouring over it. Now, when I think of the shelf and have a hard time remembering, I might remember that a property of the shelf was that the water was pouring off it. Then I could probably make the jump back to the glass of water. You can strengthen these memories further by making them ridiculous and imagining that the glass of water was spitting out an unreal amount of water.

Anyway, so loci are a great underlying mechanic, but equally important are visualization, association, and imagination (exaggeration), and just how much effort you put in.

6 August, 2013 - 08:48
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To use the journey method seems like the first thing that one should teach. It is often quite easy to learn the basic idea and also easy to get started. I think this is important for children since they typically doesn't have a lot of patient, but need to see some improvement immediately.

Also, it might be better to just start of by a 1-digit system and ones he/she really masters that you might consider moving on to a 2-digit system. Any 1-digit system is easy to learn since 10 objects is easy to remember and even easier if you use some mnemonics to construct it (rhyme, shape) so the focus is really on understanding how to use the journey method. My younger sister (9 years old) managed to learn the system and 50 decimals of pi in about an hour, my point being that a 1-digit system can still be used to remember lots of digits.

6 August, 2013 - 14:31
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I would say that association is the bread and butter of memory.

The 100-person list is only useful if you want to memorize numbers, which is not always the case.

The method of loci is useful if you want to sequentialize a set of data, which is not always the case.
If I memorize where I parked my car (an example I often use), I do not use the method of loci.
When I do, I link my car to the address. I use the 100-list for the number of the address.
But the most important 'system' I use is the association.

So depending on the particular problem one would either use the method of loci and/or the major system and/or the Dominic system and/or all the other systems that we do not talk much about. They are all useful to know and train.

For the method of loci, with your 10-year old, just start small. 5-10, maybe 20, loci is enough to do amazing stuff.
With the 100 major system items list, keep in mind that you can make them up on the go.
If you want to memorize, say 25, you can think n-l => nail!
This method uses and enhances creativity.

6 August, 2013 - 17:52
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This is intriguing. Association or loci as bread and butter?
Looking at the way I naturally remember, it looks like both things are happening at once.
If you think about it, or just be alert as you're doing it. First comes interest (motivation) and then we snapshot that image. We have loci and association. Association needs to work with something to have memory. Interest focuses attention, whatever the interesting thing is becomes associated. The interesting thing is called loci, but it can literally be anything.
Mnemonics breaks the natural process in two - association and loci.

6 August, 2013 - 18:17
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I think you are right-- it is all association. I think association is part (or most) of loci. Loci just seems a more formal process.

Right now, my 10 year old do 1 loci exercise a day. The loci is around our house. Just today, we moved from 25 positions to 30 positions. The progress is slow and steady. At first, we would miss a few, but now we hardly miss any (even with great numbers). It seems the ability to make associations grows with increased practice.

I hesitated to do more than 1 loci practice a day for 2 reasons. 1, to keep it fun and not make it too much homework (especially on summer vacation), and 2, because I notice those ghost images can creep in (items from the last loci).

Things are progressing well.

Though we occasionally do the 100, I am not too fired up about. I wouldn't mind if we set that aside altogether. But my child likes it (as long as we don't practice it too hard- LOL).

Thanks for all the great opinions.

18 August, 2013 - 12:47
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I think this is great. I have a son of 17 months. Can't wait to start training with him.

18 August, 2013 - 14:17
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Joined: 4 years 12 months ago

I taught my 5 year-old the method of loci and she can remember a list of 10 animals forward , backward even after a month. We used our flat to create the list of the loci. She has fun with it. Yes it's the foundation of memorisation.

19 August, 2013 - 12:41
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The bread and butter is imagination. Without imagination, we are just memorizing normally like many of use did in school. You are using you imagination to imagine the locations and you are using you imagination to make the associations.

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