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Method of loci (also called the memory palace or mind palace technique)

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posted on Sep, 1 2015 @ 09:30 PM
Excuse me while I retrieve a memory
from my Mind Palace.

What is a Memory Palace?

The story behind its creation goes like this: There was a poet called Simonides, who was attending a banquet. He was actually the hired entertainment, because back then, if you wanted to throw a really slamming party, you didn't hire a D.J., you hired a poet. And he stands up, delivers his poem from memory, walks out the door, and at the moment he does, the banquet hall collapses. Kills everybody inside. It doesn't just kill everybody, it mangles the bodies beyond all recognition. Nobody can say who was inside, nobody can say where they were sitting. The bodies can't be properly buried. It's one tragedy compounding another. Simonides, standing outside, the sole survivor amid the wreckage, closes his eyes and has this realization, which is that in his mind's eye, he can see where each of the guests at the banquet had been sitting. And he takes the relatives by the hand, and guides them each to their loved ones amid the wreckage.

"What Simonides figured out at that moment, is something that I think we all kind of intuitively know, which is that, as bad as we are at remembering names and phone numbers, and word-for-word instructions from our colleagues, we have really exceptional visual and spatial memories."

Stephen M. Kosslyn remarks "[t]his insight led to the development of a technique the Greeks called the method of loci, which is a systematic way of improving one's memory by using imagery."[14] Skoyles and Sagan indicate that "an ancient technique of memorization called Method of Loci, by which memories are referenced directly onto spatial maps" originated with the story of Simonides.[15] Referring to mnemonic methods, Verlee Williams mentions, "One such strategy is the 'loci' method, which was developed by Simonides, a Greek poet of the fifth and sixth centuries BC"

Method of loci

The method of loci (loci being Latin for "places"), also called the memory palace or mind palace technique, is a mnemonic device adopted in ancient Roman and Greek rhetorical treatises (in the anonymous Rhetorica ad Herennium, Cicero's De Oratore, and Quintilian's Institutio Oratoria). In basic terms, it is a method of memory enhancement which uses visualization to organize and recall information. A lot of memory contest champions claim to use this technique to recall faces, digits, and lists of words. These champions’ successes have little to do with brain structure or intelligence, but more to do with their technique of using regions of their brain that have to do with spatial learning.

If you want to win a "memory" contest, there is a trick to it.

The key (or secret) to winning a memory contest is to attach
new memories to the spatial memory you are familiar with.
This way you grant yourself read/write access to a part
of the brain that stores spatial memory.

Doing so, makes total recall a breeze.

Spatial memory - In cognitive psychology and neuroscience, spatial memory is the part of memory responsible for recording information about one's environment and its spatial orientation. For example, a person's spatial memory is required in order to navigate around a familiar city, just as a rat's spatial memory is needed to learn the location of food at the end of a maze.

The rat knows where he left the cheese. Like humans, rats use
a different part of the brain to access this spacial memory. We
can improve our memory by linking the new to the familiar.
Just remember where you put the cheese and tag on the
new memory. Place it in the same space.

One of the most useful and widely used mnemonics (or memory aids) is the memory palace, a place or series of places in your mind where you can store information that you need to remember. With time and practice, anyone can build a memory palace, and they are useful for far more than just memory competitions and trivia.

"While a memory palace can be a purely imagined place, it is easier to base it upon a place that exists in the real world and that you are familiar with or you can use some places of your favorite video game. A basic palace could be your bedroom, for example. Larger memory palaces can be based on your house, a cathedral, a walk to the corner store, or your whole town. The larger or more detailed the real place, the more information you can store in the corresponding mental space."

A memory palace can be reused over and over again if you need only commit things to memory for a short time. Just replace the existing contents with new ones, and you’ll soon remember only the new ones. If you need to remember the contents of your palace for a long time, you can keep that palace as it is and create new ones in which to store other information as needed. If your house contains the phone numbers of everyone you know, you can walk to your workplace if you need to remember the order of a deck of cards.

edit on 1-9-2015 by wasaka because: (no reason given)

edit on 1-9-2015 by wasaka because: (no reason given)

posted on Sep, 1 2015 @ 09:39 PM
a reply to: wasaka

Hi- thanks looks great. I'm even going to do a star.

I usually just move on but out of fear that I'd forget this was here, have all that I can give.


I'd also do a 'flag' but am not sure if it is a "good" or "bad" thing? In football a flag is non-positive, so accept a Star and this useless drivel.

posted on Sep, 1 2015 @ 09:40 PM
awesome thread.
i have been working on my memory palace for a year or so now.
it really is not an easy thing to do.

i have been using my house as my memory palace.
i am making small strides towards a serious recall of memories but as i said, its tough

posted on Sep, 1 2015 @ 09:42 PM
So like a long grocery list, would be mesmerized by linking it to different parts of my house? Awesome post!

posted on Sep, 1 2015 @ 10:13 PM

originally posted by: luciferslight
So like a long grocery list, would be mesmerized by linking it to different parts of my house? Awesome post!

Yes, I was wondering what sorts of things one might commit to a memory using this technique. Certainly a grocery list for the short term.

I'd like to know what other applications this technique may have, particularly examples of 'long term memory' application.

Because I find this fascinating, and would love to try it with something useful.

posted on Sep, 1 2015 @ 10:48 PM

originally posted by: new_here

I'd like to know what other applications this technique may have, particularly examples of 'long term memory' application.
Because I find this fascinating, and would love to try it with something useful.

When you plan to give a public speech, this method
is known to be very effective memory aid. You might
tell a story in symbolic language only you know, and
each symbol has a geographic location in your memory
places. Those symbols are like outline topic headers
or like chapter titles to a novel. A rich symbol can
bring to memory a whole host of ideas and memes.

Think of a subject you can talk about for hours, now
ask yourself: what was the trigger for that diatribe?
Now place that "memory trigger" in a familiar place
like in the hall way of your memory palace, or maybe
under the kitchen sink. This mnemonic method works.

The Secrets of Sherlock’s Mind Palace
"The BBC/Masterpiece sleuth employs a memory
technique invented by the ancient Greek"

There various "mnemonic devices" people use that
aids information retention. Mnemonics aim to translate
information into a form that the brain can retain better
than its original form.

The best triggers are either absolutely ridiculous or
logical leaps. I find a combination of both to be best,
but go with whichever you prefer.

Mind Palaces can be a bitch to get right at first. I went through several different styles concerning everything about mine before I found the one I’m happy with. You need to know the place like you do a lover; so intimately that it sometimes hurts in such a wonderful way.... If you’re going to use it for an exam have everything in place at least a month before...and Finally... A long-term palace is a commitment as your mind’s a bit like your muscles; if it’s not used your palace will atrophy. You don’t have to update it every day, just check in and review and ensure everything’s where it’s supposed to be. I do this each night while lying in bed.

You asked what "other applications this technique may have"
and I've asked the same question myself.

Can the "Mind Castle" or "Memory Palace" be used to give an
individual a greater sense of well-being, meaning and purpose?

Yes, but that narrative is entirely up to you.

Only you can give your life meaning and purpose,
but meaning is more than a mere mnemonic device.

The essence of who you are is more than mere memory.
Nevertheless, symbols can trigger memories of who you
are, and who you want to be. You can program, deprogram,
and reprogram yourself in this way. You can do the same
for your object of religious faith. The faith is real, even
if the object of faith is not. Life can be made meaningful
even when it isn't.

edit on 1-9-2015 by wasaka because: (no reason given)

posted on Sep, 1 2015 @ 11:08 PM
One of Agent Pendergast's deep and expansive mediation techniques in the Pendergast novels by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child is similar to the Mind Palace, but on steroids. Preston and child have some very good descriptions of mental states and the capability of the brain during the times in the novels this is used.

posted on Sep, 2 2015 @ 12:27 AM
Memory Theatre and Hexagram are very old well known memory techniques. It really works, too.

It's likely that the structure of Dante's Inferno was one of Dante's memory aids.

posted on Sep, 2 2015 @ 03:22 AM
a reply to: wasaka

It has always amazed me when reading about the past - before writing - that people could obviously retain so much information, what plants heal what, what they could and couldn't eat, regular journeys and night travel the list is endless.

What I am now hoping against all odds is that perhaps this is a method that I can simply remember where the hell I put my keys, when I have forgotten to hang them up. I might even be able to remember the list for shopping even when I forget to take the dam thing again, the list is endless - do I have enough time left to master a memory palace - could take years.

posted on Sep, 2 2015 @ 03:34 AM
I bet remembered his entire speech

Interesting. I've always been interested in "The Memory Palace" ever since The Mentalist.

Truth be told; I've always considered myself to have a bad memory but after watching this video, I guess it's never to late to start your own memory palace. Will definitely be working on this.

Nice thread OP, Star and Flag

posted on Sep, 2 2015 @ 04:08 AM
been doing this since i was a child. it started with my natural photographic and sonographic memory. during my life ive also used memory conservation and substitution technicques to make sure i remember important things and where i deem necessary, discarding memories that just'occupy space'. noone ever taught me these things tho. it was just my way of using the facilities i have to conquer my environment.

as it is now, my 'memory palace' is really huge. i use the entire earth including all the places ive been together with all the things ive learnt about psychology, science, mathematics, economics, politics, security, ancient history, all religions of the globe, literature etc. then for the quantum sciences i have everything in a position that references earth using all we know about the solar system and space at present. this help both to understand science publications as well as to develop and test theories in my mental laboratory.

what can i say. i picked up alot of mind tricks along the way

there's also memory scraping. this is for deleted or old memories discarded as unimportant and possibly replaced by other memories. basically if i having trouble remembering something i know i have experienced. i start with the ecperience and when that takes me up to the last point of memory, i scrape for other connecting imageries until i get right back to the memory that had overwritten the one i was trying to remember. and then i remember whatever it is i was trying to remember.

posted on Sep, 2 2015 @ 10:13 AM
a reply to: wasaka

Then there is the memory trick of remembering by association. This worked great for me, an ADD suffer, many years when I worked for the US Postal Department had was required to learn the several hundred post offices in Illinois. Usually it was done by simply memory and repetitive viewing of the town's name on a card.

The method I devised--and I don't recall how or why--was to make a story from the town names that each went to one of several dozens of distribution centers. For example, if Georgetown, Westville and other towns went to Danville the center, I made up a story of "George" lived "West" of Danville, etc. I could rattle off those stories easily after a bit of repeated recitation and easily past the test.

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