Memory Palace Tips
To use a memory palace, imagine yourself inside of it. Turn whatever it is you wish to remember into an image using mnemonic images, an object, person, or anything you can visualize. Place that image into a place in your memory place. Have the mnemonic image interact with the area around it. A person just standing around in a corner isn’t very memorable. Make sure to connect the person with the environment. Same thing with objects — if it’s a ball, it should be bouncing around; if it’s a battery, make sure it’s sparking with electricity. Also try not too zoom too far in; make sure you don’t view every single corner from right next to it, they would just blend together. You want to view things from the center of the room, and in relation to other things in the room.
When you want to recall the information, go back mentally to your memory palace. Look around, sometimes you need to view something from the same viewpoint as you memorized it to recall it. If you are stuck and can’t remember what you put in a specific place, come back to it in a couple minutes; it helps you view it from the first viewpoint that you watched it and thus remember it.
Here are some frequently asked questions about memory palaces:
“Help! How do I get more places, I have a 20 step journey in my house and I’ve filled the whole thing up!!”
There are several things you can do.
For example, a lot of beginners often think of a room as a singular locus, but you can easily make ten or more loci in a room. One method is to use the objects inside that room; the bed, table, lamp, television, speaker, nightstand, closet, window, and others to link stuff to. This can become very efficient for rooms or journeys you know well, enabling you to create 50 or more loci in places such as your room.
When you do not know the journey/palace as well, you can use this method: Use the corners and walls of a room as loci to put things into; Standing in the entrance, you think of the first locus as the corner directly to your left(1), then the left wall(2), then the far left corner(3), then the far wall(4), the far right corner(5), right wall(6), right corner(7), the floor of the room(8), the ceiling of the room(9), and finally the entrance that you are standing in as #10.
So, every time something changes in the picture is a potential for another locus. This could be either a new separate object, like TV, or just shape or color changing, for example a black round coffee spot on your white shirt.
More about backgrounds
As depicted in the animated image above, our brain uses the background around an image to recall it. But if two images have very similar backgrounds, then it’s harder to recall them. That’s why you don’t want to zoom in to the corners: the resulting backgrounds are too similar. But sometimes it’s the opposite, for example when the background similarity is caused because of the loci being too close to each other.
An item in your palace is the shirt hanging in your closet and you choose to create two loci on it: a button and a coffee stain right below it. You have two images you want to remember: a brick and a lizard, which you place on the button and coffee spot respectively (but before you probably want to make the brick and lizard smaller, then it is more convenient to place them).
Now the loci share the same background: the shirt around them. This confuses your brain, it can happen that you are able to recall one image but not the other. But how do we then guarantee that they both have different backgrounds?
Here the solution is zooming in: first you see the button on the shirt, then you zoom in and see a big picture of the button only and then you place the brick on it. Now the brick has a backround of button only. Then you do the same with coffee spot and lizard. When seeing the button and spot again your brain (usually) automatically zooms in.
- Safer is always creating loci that aren’t too close to each other. E.g. instead of the coffee stain you could have picked a shoe in the closet.
- Even greater risk of confusing the images is if you created two loci on the same coffee spot: in addition to having the same background there is no significant changing on the spot (which you will need to create new loci): it has a constant dark color and it doesn’t have outstretching limbs that we could use.
- To strengthen the associations you can use the image-background interaction: e.g you see that instead of the button there is a brick stitched to the shirt and the lizards tail sticks to the spot and comes off.
An object that we consider as locus (location), has a position with respect to its surroundings. When you move yourself, the position of the object remains, but its background changes. But can we then use different views to the same locus to add new information?
Let’s say I was walking towards my house and placed a roaring lion on my doorstep. In the background I saw the stair and door. Next time I enter the house I can recall the lion when seeing again its background (the door and stair). But what if I changed the direction of my journey, that means walked out of the house, would I still be able to recall the lion? Well, not always, since this time I won’t be seeing the stair and door any more, I’ll be seeing another background, like the road in front of the house or my car. But why not to put something another on the doorstep from this point of view, e.g. a spinning CD? And later recall the CD when walking OUT of the house. So, what we did is that we turned a single locus (doorstep) into two different loci by changing our point of view.
This method is more effective (less chance of ghost images) when instead of single loci we use journeys. First time you walk forward and fill the loci with list of objects. Then turn around and walk the journey through in the opposite way, and again you fill the loci with another list of objects. When recalling a list you just need to know in which direction you went in the first time. Here is an example (with pictures) that demonstrates how to use the same locus in many journeys (and creating a Massive Memory Palace using movie scenes).
Here is a list of ideas to get you started:
Video gaming maps, friends houses, a route you take to work or school, your workplace or school, any place you go to buy either objects or services(salons, stores, movie theaters), taking a walk in a park with your pet, scenes from your favorite movies, or even people. If you can’t (or don’t like to) leave the house, you can even use google street view, or explore famous buildings right from your computer.
You can also create imaginary memory palaces.
Update: we now have memory palace software to help you manage and review your memory palaces.
FAQ: “How do I keep track of my memory palaces?”
You can always write it down ^.^
But, if you want to remember them, simply designate a journey, or a palace to hold all of them. Just place something that reminds you of the original palace. If the palace is your friends house, use your friend. If its a park you go to, use a bench or a tree from that park. If it’s a map from a video game, either pick something from the map, or visualize the name of the map as an object.
FAQ: How do I memorize a book?
First, decide how you want to memorize it. Do you want to memorize just the chapter headings? The main idea of each chapter? Choice quotes? A summary of each chapter? Verbatim text?
It would be impractical and tedious, albeit doable, to memorize an entire book verbatim. But, if you want to memorize a summary or main idea of every chapter, you can do so quite easily with memory techniques.
First, prepare a journey or a palace that contains enough loci to store whatever you want to store. This can range from maybe 15(for just chapter names) to over 200. Then, read a chapter or section at a time, stop, reflect, and decide what if anything you want to memorize from that section, and turn it into an image. Place the image into the designated journey, and repeat.
The most important thing for you to do is summarize whatever you read, in your own words. This helps you understand the concepts better and be able to decide what is most important to memorize.
It’s best to memorize the main concepts first, and later add on extraneous information, by using the first image as a peg, or by linking more information to it.
FAQ: “How do I study for tests using method of loci?”(Not Finished)
Answer: It depends on the subject
First off, minimalism is your friend. Remove everything you already know. Decide how to express what you need to know as efficiently as possible. Here are the various subjects:
- Vocabulary- One of the easiest things to memorize with mnemonics. You create an image to represent the word, for example something similarly sounding to it. Then, you also create an image for the definition, or what it means. Then, you link those two images together by making them interact with one another. Extra information on memorizing Vocabulary: How to memorize vocabulary, here, here, and French_Vocabulary.
- Dates- Dates are also easy to memorize. This works best if you already have a working system for numbers, such as the major system or the Dominic System. Assuming you are using the Major system, if you have to memorize that the United States officially entered World War 2 in 1941, you use your images for 19 and 41, link them together, and continue linking to whatever represents world war 2 for you, be it a tank or a grandparent.
- Information about people.
- Verbatim text- See The Lanier Verbatim Memory System for one way to memorize text(in his case passages from the bible) verbatim, or word for word.
FAQ: “Can I reuse memory palaces?”
Answer: Yes. There are three main ways to do it, the first one being simpler and arguably better, with less chance of error:
If your journeys/palaces are all filled up, and you don’t need to remember the information anymore, you can put other information there. If there’s already an image in a locus and you want to reuse that locus, you have a couple choices:
- Wait some time, let the image gradually fade away. Lots of memory champions reuse the same couple journeys every time they memorize numbers or cards, alternating between them.
- You can burn/shatter/destroy in any other way the already existing image in that locus.
- You can simply replace the already existing image with a new one. The new image will blot out the old one, and you will forget the old one.
There is some chance of ghost imagery, when you go to a locus and you find an old image there, but it’s usually not a serious problem if you are not reusing the same journey/palace multiple times in a day.
An advanced option is to use the same journey/palace but to make it different by adding qualities to it. For example, one time, the whole journey is on fire, and you focus on how the fire interacts with the objects while at the same time visualizing it in the proper place. Another, it might be raining, or snowing, or all muddy and slippery. This allows you to remember multiple pieces of information in the same locus at the same time. There is however a greater chance of ghost imagery, and you have to focus hard on the physical qualities.
If the items you want to memorize are linked into a story, then you actually don’t need the journey - you can recall every next item of the chain from the previous one. Sometimes the info you want to memorize is already naturally linked (it often happens in educaton; for example a mathematical proof of a theorem follows an exact logical path - it is like a story).
But you can still use the journey to make the stories even stronger - now each item also has a position with respect to other items. If the items aren’t linked you can first place them into the loci of the journey and link them together there. If there are more items than loci then you can also place more than one item into the same locus. Then use the journey again for another list of items.
Now, how do we recall all the lists we used the journey for? If you had only like 2-3 lists then it shouldn’t be hard to recall them all. If you have more, then use different loci of the journey to recall different list. For example you specifically link locus1 with the first item of the first list (could see some interaction between the locus and the item), locus2 with item2 from list2 and so on. Later you recall list1 from locus1 and list2 from locus2 and so on.
You could also start list2 from locus2 (and end in locus1), list3 from locus3 and so on. Then linking a locus with its journey won’t be so important, because it’s quite easy to remember “What list started from this locus?“.
This system is definitely better than “adding qualities” technique, but (if the info isn’t already linked) it requires more work (linking the info into story). And for recalling here you have to concentrate on the story.