How to Improve your Memory with the Method of Loci
In this page we will discuss the Method of Loci, an ancient memory technique that survived thousands of years and it is used nowadays from many people around the world. The technique was named from the Latin word locus which means location. “Loci” is just the plural of locus.
As you may understand this method has to do with places. It actually uses spatial associations between the content one needs to memorize and a familiar location. Although method of loci has no constraints about the places one can mentally visit, some people present it to be a mental journey to one’s house. Of course it is the more rational someone to think their house as they use the method but just for reference, method of loci can involve any familiar location. In the following example I am going to use a map of a house.
The method of loci can be expanded to any extent. The eight-time world memory champion Dominic ‘Obrien, who has also written the book “How to Develop a Brilliant Memory Week by Week: 52 Proven Ways to Enhance Your Memory Skills“, he uses in fact the method of loci to a very large scale.
The method of loci is a memory technique that needs your visualization skill. You are going to visualize the rooms of your house and in every room you are going to put specific memory triggers that are associated with the content that you want to remember. Because of the familiarity of the places that you mentally visit the technique greatly increase memory capacity. The triggers may be anything, from the item itself to a symbolic picture of it. Dominic ‘O Brien calls this movement through the house’s rooms, a “journey” and as memory hooks he uses unusual experiences. He actually uses the method of loci combined with the power of the exaggerating experiences.
Let’s see how to improve your memory with this useful memory technique. I am going to show you a simple example of the method. You can think and form your versions of the method when you learn the technique. There are no constraints.
Method of Loci Example
Let’s suppose that you want to memorize the following list:
o Cell phone
The list is a random one. In the following figure you can see the path I follow in the house and also the associations between the items of the list and the places of the house.
First of all, think a logical movement through the rooms of the house. This can be your daily routine as you wake up on your bed and you prepare to go to work. In the above example and also my daily routine I pass from the bathroom, 2nd bedroom, living room, kitchen and the front door.
There is no limit what you can think here. Only two rules apply; the places must be familiar and distinct. You must identify that every place you move on is different than the previous one.
Places can be in the same room provided that they are dissociative. Also you can use any building and not only your house. You are free to visualize anything you like.
Creating a Mental Crazy Story
I would use the method like this:
I wake up in my bedroom and the first thing I see as I open my eyes is a monkey that stares at me. As I move to the bathroom I see a post-it paper on the mirror writing “Your computer is broken”. Damn this monkey broke it. I make my way to the second bedroom and on the desk I see a basket with rotten apples and they smell terrible (sensual data increase memory capacity).
I throw them out of the balcony. As I move to the living room, the TV is on playing the Champions league soccer final and I watch for a while. As, I move to the kitchen I take the small bike bag from the table and I move to the refrigerator to take the steak I cooked the previous day. I walk to the front door and as I close it behind me I hear the cell phone ringing from the inside (creates an annoying feeling because I forgot to take the cell phone with me – feelings also increase memory capacity).
This is a very simple example of the method of loci. As you can imagine, you can memorize a lot more things by creating more stop points. For instance, you can think every piece of furniture of the house as a new point. It is not necessary to change rooms to remember the next item.
You can memorize multiple objects in the same room by simply associating them with different locations in the same room. In my example I placed the bike bag and the steak in the same room but on different locations; the bag was on the table while the steak was in the fridge.
Memory is Enhanced with Bizarre and Unique Stories
The method here was used in a very basic form. You can improve your memory by creating even more vivid and strange experiences as you move from place to place into your house. Your options are countless. Let your creativity expand and don’t put limits in your visualizations.
Remember: The more unique the experience, the more memorable will be. This limitless potential of the method is its beauty. The fact that you don’t have to follow a strict tactic in order to use it makes it greatly simple and efficient.