Method of loci

March 21, 2017 - Søren Alsbjerg Hørup

I stumbled upon the method of loci in my quest to improve my memory. Although I have an OK ability to recall information, I struggle with names of places and especially things.

The method of loci is an ancient technique invented by the Greeks I believe, where one mentally attach images, sounds, etc to known location, be it real or fictional, in ones memory. This method is also known as the memory palace technique.

The important part is to use locations which are well known for ones loci, for me this could be:

  • Left lamp-stand in my bedroom.
  • The bedroom door.
  • The dashboard of my car.
  • The desk of my work.
  • The first part of the first level of super Mario bros (where you get the mushroom for the first time).

To remember stuff, one breaks the subject into images/words/sounds that can be mentally attached to a loci. For instance, to remember the license plate number of AV28011 of a white van, I would place the following mental images in three locis:

  1. Looking to the left laying in my bed, I see a VHS recorder with an AV out connector laying on my lamp-stand.
  2. From the lamp-stand, I take the VHS through the door, where the number 28 is itched into the white paint.
  3. Grabbing the handle, I notice the number 011 hanging on a waving sign under the handle.

When trying to remember the license plate of the white van, I just need to focus on the first loci: the lamp-stand in my bedroom. I will quickly see the VHS and from there know that I have to take it through the door, thus notice the 28 itched into the white paint, and finally see the number 011 hanging from the door handle.

I just tried this technique the other day, and I was impressed by how easily I remember the license plate of the white van.

If you struggle with memory recall, try this technique.