MEMORY TECHNIQUE: A step by step guide for creating a memory palace

If there is one person whom I could meet in this world, it would be Derren Brown. The BBC recently broadcast a one-hour special to celebrate 10 years of the psychological illusionist’s work. I personally endeavour to watch everything ever made by Derren Brown and I’m currently­ immersed in his latest book Confessions of a Conjuror. Great read.

Although Derren Brown is something of a trickster — making use of suggestion and misdirection to manipulate people and accurately predict their behaviour — his skills are something to behold. His newer TV shows also seem to be about helping people in areas such as self-improvement and increasing self-confidence.

Thousands of ‘ordinary’ people apply to be on his shows where he teaches participants some of his psychological techniques. In a recent Trick or Treat episode, an applicant in his mid-40s claims to have a very bad memory (as many people of that age might advocate).

After teaching said participant to speed-read and passing on various memory techniques, Derren Brown enters the man in England’s top pub quiz. After just two weeks of preparation, the participant single-handedly earns second place.

One fantastically simple memory technique that is mentioned here is that of the memory palace. This creative approach is not only simple, but it is highly effective in committing long lists of information to memory that can then be recalled at will. It has been used since ancient Rome and goes something like this.

A Virtual Memory Palace

Virtual Memory Palace

The memory palace technique is based on the fact that we’re extremely good at remembering places we know (image: web.science.mq.edu.au)

Step 1: Creating a Memory Palace

The whole memory palace technique is based on the fact that we’re extremely good at remembering places we know. So, the first step is to create a memory palace of your choosing in your mind’s eye. A memory palace is essentially a physical location that you are very familiar­ with — such as your home or route to work. So long as you can clearly visualise each room or landmark within your memory palace, it will serve you well.

Step 2: Define a route

The second step is to trace a clearly defined route through your memory palace and visualise particular objects along the way. If you are considering your home for example, your route may start with your front door. You may enter into a hallway and notice a mirror hanging on the wall. Start with one object per room and follow an easy path (such as from left to right) until you are back at your starting point.

Practice following this route in your memory palace — making an effort to remember each specific object in order. This shouldn’t be hard to do if you choose a place deeply embedded within your mind; perhaps the house you grew up in. Each object is generally known as a “memory peg”.

Step 3: Peg it to memory

Now think of something that you’d like to remember, such as a shopping list or your agenda for the week ahead. Place items in a particular order and integrate each with a memory peg (object) within your memory palace. It helps to conceptualise objects as being bizarre or perhaps cartoon-like at this stage. Memory does, after all, perform best when operating in a strong, visual way.

For example: your week could start by going to the post office. If you have chosen your home as a memory palace, visualise a letter box spewing out envelopes. Perhaps your child is playing a school cricket match on Tuesday. Visualise a school cricket match happening inside the mirror in the hallway. Animate­ things as best you can and they’ll be sure to stick in your head. You could even add smells and sounds to things to remember.

Step 4: Remember to practice!

The memory palace has proven to be a powerful memory technique that anyone­ can use to awaken the memory they already have. Your imagination really is the limit. Also, remember that you can have more than one memory palace for dealing with different kinds of information. There is also always the option of upgrading your palaces once you’ve got the hang of it.

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POST PROMO: Blogger’s Greatest Hits attempt to make a comeback

EACH post I’ve ever written is like a digital child of mine - each given due attention and updated when necessary. However, as a parent, I naturally grow concerned over how some of my digital offspring are more popular than others.

They each have their own unique talents and personalities, and although popularity is a fickle thing, I can’t help feel that it is my fault as a parent that some of my children get more attention than others. Perhaps they weren’t labeled properly at birth, or their dad simply lacked the know-how of how to get them ahead in life at the time.

I have therefore made it my parental duty to promote some talented children of mine that still have much to offer and are yearning for your attention. Below are a few of my personal favourites from each category – my greatest hits trying to make a comeback. I’m certain that you will find yourself willing to adopt some of the following:

From Quite Interesting:

"Staring blankly at my keyboard the other day (as one does) I began pondering over the arrangement of the keys. “What’s up with that?” I heard the comedian within me say. I set forth on a cyber-galactic journey to discovery why my keyboard’s layout looks the way it does…" (Read more)

Santa Claus“So just who is that fat, old jolly guy in the red suit that parades around shopping malls at Christmas time – entertaining kids and scaring adults with his “ho ho hos”? It’s usually someone’s dad – the one (in any community of close friends) with the biggest beer boep…” (Read more)

"Do you ever use sayings such as “saved by the bell” or hear your grandmother squawk something like, “Heavens, it raining cats and dogs outside!” A lot of people still do yet have no idea where such phrases originate from. I got a little history lesson the other day which explained the dark truth behind some of these popular figures of speech..." (Read more)

From Web 2.0:

"Digital Blasphemy is by far one of the best places on the web to find incredible pc wallpapers. Ryan Bliss has made a career of creating digital desktop backgrounds that are simply amazing. He is also quite the generous type and offers a few of his digital artworks for free. I have collected several of these over the years and wanted to share my top 10 with anyone who appreciates such talent..."
(Read more)

Photofunia"There are some great digital photography websites out there that allow you to do some wondrous things with your own (possibly dull) collection of pics. Such sites also make you look really smart when your family and friends don’t know about them and ask, “how in the name of Luke Skywalker did you make your facebook profile pic like that!?”
(Read more)

"If you feel that you missed out on an opportunity to be pasted in your fellow matriculants’ yearbooks and be remembered forever, you can now do it online. With a little imagination and creativity, you could digitally create an entire yearbook of all your former classmates, whether you matriculated in the ’50s or the ’90s..." (Read more)

From Happy Friday:

"The video “Where the Hell is Matt?” has seen over 21 million views to date, so you’re likely to have seen it before, but if you haven’t, you should give it a watch. It takes you to a place of magic and joy and wonder – a place where all the bad in the world is forgotten for 4mins 29secs. It is one of the most viewed viral videos of its time and one of my top dancing videos..." (Read more)

chip-n-dale"There are no cartoons better than the hand-crafted animations of the 80s, which make today’s cartoons look rather crappy by comparison. The following make me slip into a nostalgic state and give me the urge to run around the garden naked climbing trees again. What? That’s not weird. It’s called my “inner-child” – eveyone has it… don’t they?" (Read more)

"Here you'll find a collection of humorous and memorable South African Facebook statuses I’ve come across over the past two weeks to illustrate my point that South Africans are pretty, funny people..." (Read more)

From Online tips & tricks:

"The video-web is an exciting place to be involved in these days, particularly because it is constantly evolving and simply brimming with potential. If you have untapped creative juices, or any original video-related ideas, there is nothing stopping you from making a contribution to the growing videosphere..." (Read more)

blogging 101"If the idea of blogging excites you, there is nothing preventing you from starting one today. There are several ways to go about this, but in the spirit of keeping things simple, there are two blogging sites I would recommend..."
(Read more)

"... here’s a much more controversial-friendly, and very easy way to learn the SA anthem if you don’t know it already. You’ll see that it’s as easy as ABC" (Read more)

From Gadgets & tech:

"Specifically since the introduction of Windows XP to Japan, more and more consumers have been taking their laptops and electronic devices to Shinto priests to be blessed against system crashes and technical failures..." (Read more)

"Our traffic nightmares may soon come to an end thanks to an invention known as the Shweeb. And this is not just some fancy new swear word, but the world’s first human-powered monorail" (Read more)

"I wrote a hand-written letter the other day and found that my hand-writing looked like barbed wire. I realised that it had been a good while since I had used any hand-writing skills due to my increasing reliance on typing everything. It seems obvious to me that the archaic technology of hand-writing is being slowly killed by digital technologies. Yet just when the patriotic hand-writers thought things couldn’t get worse, society unleashed something called “digital paper” or iPaper..." (Read more)

Reviews:

"The gaming chair came in attachable parts with a set of tools, a spider diagram, some Chinese instructions, and a note of encouragement. I half expected to find a small key, some coded message, a strange map and an enchan­ted ring" (Read more)

Aibo"I’ve been thinking of getting a puppy; one that’s potty-trained. Or perhaps a streetwise cat that can take care of itself. The thought that I could never find the time to raise a pup made me consider robot pets. Several of these can learn skills and tricks, recognise faces, voices, and colour; but they won’t pee on your carpet..." (Read more)

"Twisp is not a real cigarette, but a personal and portable vapouriser, that uses micro-electronics and a lithium polymer cell to evaporate nicotine in ‘smoke’ from a replaceable cartridge. The vapour does not smell nor does it contain tar, carcinogens or smoke particulate found in first and second- hand cigarette smoke, but it feels, tastes and looks just like the real thing..." (Read more)

Gaming & virtual reality

"It has been said that Wannado has redefined child entertainment by simulating a dream world where children are encouraged to take on and experience one or several adult professions. It features 60 Real-play venues and over 120 career possibilities – ranging from archaeologists, doctors, attorneys and TV hosts to fashion models, pizza makers, DJs and clowns..." (Read more)

VisionDome 5"As computer-processing power increases and even more realistic graphics are developed, the simulated environments produced by virtual reality systems will become even more believable than some already are. At the cutting edge of vitual reality is the VisionDome..." (Read more)

"Known as the godfather of modern videogame systems, the Atari 2600 (originally called the Atari VCS) helped spawn a multi-billion dollar gaming industry. Released in 1977, the Atari 2600 was the first successful console to use game cartridges and its influence can still be felt today in the Xbox, PlayStation, and GameCube..."
(Read more)

Cellphones & cellular technology:

"The Samsung Jet has opened up a whole new world of mobile web browsing with its high performance Dolfin web browser and revolutionary 3D cubic interface, allowing super-fast surfing. The device also supports the option of multi-window browsing – allowing one to surf up to five pages simultaneously..." (Read more)

iphone art"Some of the latest hype arriving in the wake of the new iPhone 3G S is an Apple application for the device called Brushes, which allows users to do more than just doodle on their iPhones. The images are “painted” freehand, using fingers and thumbs..." (Read more)

"The Health Concept Phone (pictured) is equipped with eNose technology, which effectively allows it to electronically “smell” what you eat and keep track of your food intake. It is able to ‘recognise’ food (and other things) by its unique chemical signature. Recommended for people who have a habit of eating with their eyes closed. Similar phones have the ability to emit a whiff of your significant other’s scent every time he or she phones..." (Read more)

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