Build a Memory Palace to Lose the Crutch – Part IV

Posted by Barry Flanagan on Jun 21st, 2008
2008
Jun 21

(Read the earlier posts in this series here, here and here.)

 

 

Dominic O’Brien is an eight time world memory champion. He has authored numerous books on memory, and is one of several internationally recognized memory experts. His book  "How to Develop a Perfect Memory" is his most comprehensive resource on the technique he has developed. Unfortunately, this book is long out of print. Used copies at used book stores and ebay have sold for as high as $140.

 

 

O’brien does an excellent job of explaining and demonstrating mnemonic techniques. I found a very brief video that explains a variation of the memory palace ( or as he calls it, the memory journey).

 

 


[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mCuQ_14R4bI]

 


In this video excerpt, O’brien creates a memory journey specifically for the story instead of using one from his own experience. He weaves the numbers into the memory journey (39 steps in the tower, and uses associations from his own experience ("When I Turn 64", 10 Downing Street). He also uses a lot of action (turning the key, opening the door, climbing the steps, blair carried away by the swan). He ties in visuals, sound (a Beatles song) and bizarre action (the swan carrying away Tony Blair). In just a few minutes, O’brien deomstrates hwo easy it is to rapidly memorize a 9 digit number like 213964102.

 

 

The key to using this method is practice. You need to practice finding and using memory palaces, creating images to encode the information, and make those images both multi-sensory and outrageous. As Dominc ‘Obrien demostrates in this video, one you train your mind to learn each step of the porcess, it is very easy to recall obscure and abstract information.

 

 

I have several more example videos I will post in upcoming entries in this series.

 

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Build a Memory Palace to Lose the Crutch – Part III

Posted by Barry Flanagan on Jun 21st, 2008
2008
Jun 21

(Read the earlier posts in this series here and here.)

Anyone can create their own memory palaces to quickly store and retrieve a wide variety of information or to remember the key points and examples of a presentation or speech..

 

1) – Pick a Palace – Choose a very familiar place (or path or journey) for your memory palace. Your current home is often a great choice for your first memory journey as you learn the technique.

 

2) – Choose a Path – Choose a starting point that you will use for all memory journeys. This can be the front door, the northern most room of the first floor, the largest entrance – what point you select try to stick to that tpe of start for all memory journeys. Decide which direction you will follow from that starting point and how you will proceed from there. If you are able to use a similar starting point and path for every memory journey, it will be much simpler to get started. As you grow more comfortable with this technique, you can use each room of a building to store multiple images. A single wall or an object within a room can become a storage location for a memory. For pi memorization, I use 10 locations in each room (four walls, ceiling, floor, (three walls in closet and closet ceiling). Since each visualization in the Dominic System represents four digits, I can store 40 digits of pi in my college apartment bedroom.

 

3) – Create the images – This step is much easier if you have taken the time to learn the Dominic System. But that is not absolutely required. Create an action scene for the info you need to remember. Make a picture in your mind of whatever the info is, and find every association you can imagine related to those associations.  Ensure their is movement and sound at a minimum. To lock this image in, use outrageous, comical or offensive action. The visualization must be memorable on its own and stand out from all the other images you collect daily. Add in smells and tastes where possible.

 

4) Lock it In – Play the memory journey through your mind in your spare moments. While you are on hold for a call, driving in the car, brushing your teeth or waiting in line, walk through your new memory palace and call up each visualization. A few minutes a day will help you lock those images inside your memory palace.

 

The metaphor I use for a memory palace is a technical one – the master file table on your computers hard disk. Your operating systems keeps a map of all location available on the hard drive. Each time data needs to be sorted, the os encodes the data, stores teh data ion available locations ( similar to to selecting a new memory palace) and keep a record of that location  Finally, when the data needs to be retried, the os check the master file table for its location on the disk, finds the data and decodes it.

 

The vivid and outrageous action scenes built on your personal associations is the encoding step. Picking your memory palace and the path inside it for storing memories is similar to finding available locations on the master file table for storage. Checking the master file table for the data location and pulling that data off the hard disk is a retrieval system much the same way returning to the appropriate spot in your memory palace is a memory retrieval.Translating the vivid action scene back into the needed information is like the os decoded the data on the disk.

 

This technique does require practice. The most difficult for many people is learning how to quickly find associations and translate those associations into a memorable and vivid action scene in a short period of time. The more you do this, the easier it becomes. If you spend just 3-5 minutes a day working on learning this memory technique, you will inevitably discover with a few weeks that you memory has improved dramatically and that it is much easier for you to recall you presentation topics and examples when you speak.

 

 

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