Build a Memory Palace to Lose the Crutch – Part VI

Posted by Barry Flanagan on Jun 25th, 2008
2008
Jun 25

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

 

 

The next video on the memory palace technique comes from MemoryConsulting.com . In this short video, James Jorasch and Chris Harwood go through an example of using the memory palace technique to memorizing the key point of a speech on global warming. Chris and James use the name "Roman Room" instead of memory palace, an alternate name based on the popularity of this technique with ancient Roman orators.

 

 


[flashvideo filename=http://memoryconsulting.com/flv/RomanRoom.flv /]


 

 

In the second video,James  and Chris review the link method. This is also good review of creating vivid, outrageous multi-sensory action scenes. I use this technique for memory points of a presentation as well, and sometimes combine the memory palace and link method together.

 

 


[flashvideo filename=http://memoryconsulting.com/flv/LinkSystem.flv /]


 

 

 

 

 

 

[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [del.icio.us] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon]

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.

 

[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [del.icio.us] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon]

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.

 

 

[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [del.icio.us] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon]

Build a Memory Palace to Lose the Crutch – Part II

Posted by Barry Flanagan on Jun 19th, 2008
2008
Jun 19

(Read the first post of this series here.)
Several Romans writers wrote of these ancient memory techniques. "Rhetorica ad Herennium" (author unknown), "De Oratore" (Cicero, 55 BCE),  and Institutio Oratoria (Quintillian, 95 CE) all cover the use of the memory palace technique in oratory. According to "The Art of Memory" by Frances Yates, each of these ancient works refers to the Greek Simonides as the originator of the technique.


His patron, Scopas, reproached him at a banquet for devoting too much space to a praise of Castor and Pollux in an ode celebrating Scopas’ victory in a chariot-race. Scopas refused to pay all the fee and told Simonides to apply to the twin gods for the remainder. Shortly afterwards, Simonides was told that two young men wished to speak to him; after he had left the banqueting room, the roof fell in and crushed Scopas and his guests.  During the excavation of the rubble, Simonides was called upon to identify each guest killed. He managed to do so by correlating their identities to their positions (loci) at the table before his departure. After thanking Castor and Pollux for paying their half of the fee by saving his life, Simonides drew on this experience to develop the ‘memory theatre’ or ‘memory palace’, a system for information management widely used in oral societies until the Renaissance. He is often credited with inventing this ancient system of mnemonics (Quintilian xi.2,n).


Cicero expands upon the memory palace technique in "De Oratore"(Book II, Section 357) -


It has been sagaciously discerned Simonides or else discovered by some other person, that the most complete pictures are formed in our minds of the things that have been conveyed to them and imprinted on them by the senses, but that the keenest of all our sense is the sense of sight and that consequently perceptions received by the ears or by reflection can be most easily retained if they are also conveyed to our minds by the meditations of the eyes.


A memory palace (also called method of loci) provides a location and series of associations for memory. The cornerstone to this method is vivid and imaginative pictures for each item to be included in the memory palace. In my experience, a outrageous action scene that includes a great deal of color, sound, and, if possible, tastes and smells is even more effective.

 


Ancient Greeks did not have access to paper as we know it today for taking notes. Gutenberg’s printing press would not come along until the 15th century. Oratory was very common (and extremely long winded) but there was no readily available method for writing down notes or using sources. Mnemonics were essential to oration, and oration was considered essential to politics and academics. These techniques were refined and proven over centuries, but fell out of favor as paper, printing (and now computers and powerpoint) became more common.

 


This memory palace technique can still be useful today for the speaker. This mnemonic technique can be used for much more than speeches of course. The key is to create vivid, outrageous active pictures for each bit of information, then chain all that information together as action scenes throughout a building (or along a journey as Dominic O’Brien suggests).




In Part III of this series, I will cover a step by step process to creating a memory palace.

 

[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [del.icio.us] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon]