The Mind Palace

If you are a fan of detective shows, Sherlock Holmes in the BBC drama series, have been known to use this method repeatedly throughout all the seasons and now you can too!

Memory work is part and parcel of any students’ lives. Memorization exercises the brain and the information stored can easily save you brain power during your examinations or future studies. If you are able to grasp the fundamental information or concepts, you will be able to move on bigger and better ones. But what are the ways that you can commit information to memory easily? Today, I will be introducing one of them- the mind palace method.

Mind Palace Method

The Method of Ioci, or more commonly known as the mind palace or memory palace technique is a mnemonic device adopted by ancient Roman and Greek theoretical treaties. Numerous memory contest champions have claimed to use this technique to remember faces, digits and lists of words. Their successes however, have nothing to do with the way that their brain is structured or their innate intelligence, but more to do with their spatial memory. The mind palace method makes use of memorized spatial relationships to establish, order and recall content. Of which, there are two different methods- the “Journey” and the “Roman Room” techniques.

Journey

The journey technique is used to store a list of related items to memory, based around the idea of remembering landmarks on a well-known journey. To use this method most effectively, it is important to plan a journey before-hand. This journey could be the one that you take to school or work every day, or even the Singapore MRT line! This way, the landmarks will be clear in your mind before you commit information to them. To do this, you may want to write down the landmarks that you remember to see which ones are significant and to fix them into your mnemonic, leaving out the ones that are more insignificant to you (those that you cannot remember).

To remember a list of items- be it experiments, ideas, items- all you have to do is to associate them with those landmarks or stops on your journey. This system is extremely flexible- if you have to remember a longer list of items, use a longer journey with more landmarks. If you have a shorter list, use only part of that route. You can use this method to remember anything from the elements in the periodic table to the list of presidents in Singapore. This method is definitely one you can adopt in your revision of examinations! One strong advantage of the journey technique is that you can work forward or backwards and start anywhere within the route to retrieve the content that you have stored!

Roman Room

In contrast to the journey method, the roman room is most effective in remembering items that are unstructured or unrelated. This technique functions by imagining a room- it can be your sitting room or bedroom and associate the information you have to remember with items in the room. To recall the information, simply take a tour around the room in your mind and visualise the items and their associated information.

This technique can easily be expanded by going into more details of your items in the room (like legs of the chair, doors of the cupboards) to remember more details of a certain content or you can even have doors that lead to other rooms. Other rooms can be used to store other categories of information. There is also no need to restrict this information to rooms, you can use the neighbourhood you know well and populate it with the memory items.

Unsurprisingly, the mind palace method has been used in literature, films and television. If you are a fan of detective shows, Sherlock Holmes in the BBC drama series, have been known to use this method repeatedly throughout all the seasons and now you can too!

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