Imagine how easy learning would be if you could easily remember anything you studied!
Well, it’s entirely possible simply by using the Memory Palace Technique.
What is the Memory Palace used for? 🤔
The technique is used by competitive world memory champions and super-learners from around the globe. The use of the Memory Palace is only limited by your imagination. Almost any type of information can be stored in this way.
In 2015, 20 years old Suresh Kumar Sharma used the Memory Palace technique to recite pi (𝜋) up to 70,030 digits in one sitting. It took him 17 hours.
Now you won’t need to be doing anything crazy like that, but you can use it to remember virtually any item of information.
Here are a few things you might use the Memory Palace for:
- Language Learning
- Learning and Test Prep in School/University
- Names and Phone Numbers
What is the Memory Palace? 🏰
The Memory or Mind Palace, sometimes referred to as the Method of Loci is is a memorization technique developed thousands of years ago to accurately and precisely recall vast amounts of information on demand.
The technique involves storing information in the form of associative images in our mind. We then store these images in a virtual location in our mind, such as your house, street, school etc. When we walk through this virtual location, we can work out the information from the images stored there.
Before we do a deep dive into the technique and how to do it, let’s go over the science quickly. Understanding this will help you more effectively use the technique.
The Baker/baker Paradox 👨🍳👨💼
The reason the Memory Palace technique works so well is best explained with the Baker/baker paradox.
The paradox goes something like this.
Two groups of people are both shown the same picture of a man.
Group 1 is told the man in this picture is Mr Baker.
Group 2 is told that the man in this picture is a baker.
A few days later, both groups were asked to remember the information they had been given.
Individuals in Group 2, who were told that the man in this picture is a baker had a much higher recall rate than those who were told that this man is Mr Baker.
This may seem like an odd fluke of human psychology. However, it reveals something amazing about human memory. Our brains remember visual and emotional information much better than just raw meaningless information.
Mr Baker is a meaningless name to most people, the information is just a word with nothing distinctive about it. However, baker the profession does mean something. The word already has many associations and connections that our mind can latch onto.
- Image of a man in a white apron and baker’s hat
- Texture of flour
- Smell of freshly baked bread
- Memory of visiting a bakery
These emotional and associational hooks helps our brains remember much more easily.
The Memory Palace Technique 🧠
The Memory Palace technique takes advantage of the fact that our brains remember visual, spatial, sensory and emotional information incredibly well.
We’re going to use this to force our brains to remember any piece of information we want.
The technique is as follows:
Step One: Pick a Palace and Route 🏠
Pick a place you can remember easily and visualise in your mind. This could be your house, street, school, place of work etc. The only prerequisite is that you can easily mentally walk around and visualise it.
Once you have a place picked out, define a route that you will walk through mentally. This is so you can recall information in a certain order. Walk through this route several times, becoming familiar with it.
Step Two: Turn Raw Information into Images Though Associations 🐱👤
Once you have chosen what information you want to remember, you can now create mental images through association. To remember these images, you will want to make them as mad and ridiculous as possible. This will help our mind remember.
Let’s say for example, you meet someone new and you want to remember the information they tell you about themselves.
He introduces himself as James Baker. He is a web developer, originally from Wales in the UK and likes to cycle on the weekends.
The information we want to remember is as follows:
- James Baker
- Web Developer
The associations I would make into images would be:
- James / Jam 🧉
- Baker / baker 👨🍳
- Web Developer / Spider’s Web 🕸
- Wales / Whale 🐋
- Cycles / Bicycle 🚲
So my images would be imagining James Baker dressed as a baker covered in jam and spider webs, riding a bicycle on top of a whale.
You can combine your images in any way you want. If you choose to make a story out the elements then that is great too!
Each of the elements your my image, represents an item of information you want to remember.
Step Three: Add Sensory and Emotional information to your Images 👃
Once you’ve created your mad and ridiculous image through association, you can start to add sensory and emotional information.
This means going into as much detail as possible. Here are some questions you might as yourself:
- What does the Jam feel, look and taste like?
- Does James Baker feel scared with all these spider webs on him? Is he panicking?
- What does the outfit the baker is wearing look like? What’s the texture of it?
- What type of Whale is it? What sound does it make? How big is it?
- Does the bike James is riding have a bell, if so what does it sound like?
You want to add as much detail to your image as possible, anything to do with the five senses: sight, smell, touch, taste, hearing.
Remember to also add emotional information, such as in our example, how scared James is of the spider’s webs on his head.
Now as ridiculous as it seems to do, these crazy details will help you remember all the images and therefore the information.
Step Four: Place Images Inside your Memory Palace 🏰
The next step is to place your created image inside of your Memory Palace.
For my example I will be using the first room in my house. This is somewhere I know well and imagine vividly and easily.
Once you have placed your image, you will want to interweave it with the surroundings in your chosen location.
Get creative in how your image interacts with its environment. This will help anchor your image to a specific location.
Step Five: Walk Back Through your Memory Palace 🚶♀️
Once you have repeated the process for as many pieces of information you would like to remember, you can now take the final step.
This is mentally walking around your Memory Palace. You will need to do this a several times to truly lock it inside your mind. Each time you revisit an image or walk, the memory will get stronger. This is the power of the memory palace!
How do you Remember Numbers? 🔢
Remembering numbers isn’t as tricky as you might think!
All you need is a system to work with. To get you started let’s get you up and running with the most simple.
This is where you assign an image to the numbers 1-9.
- 1 / Candle
- 2 / Swan
- 3 / Butterfly
- 4 / Sailboat
You can choose whatever images you like, if something comes to mind fast, use that!
Using the numbers 1-9 has its limitations. It can be only really be used for short strings of digits.
If you want to remember long strings of digits, then you will want to invest in the major system, which is assigning images to numbers 1-99.
Further Reading and Resources 📚
If you want to learn more about the Memory Palace, such as more advanced techniques and the science behind it, then here are some resources to get you started!