Loci Method: The Secret of Memorization

Study Arata! Have you ever heard about the Palace of Memory? It is also known as the Loci Method and there are records which date it as far as back to the fifth century BC. It was a method used to aid memorization and to retrieve different types of information. Astonished? Today I will teach you how to use this technique.

Well, I’ll start by explaining a bit about how it works, and then I’ll give you a practical example, okay?

The theory behind the method

The idea behind this technique is to use an environment that we know very well, such as our house or a very detailed imaginary place, called the Palace of Memory, which will be used to associate information being studied to specific areas of this environment, including a vast amount of visual details. 

This way we seize our brain’s ability to remember images, because that’s how our brain works. Many people have trouble remembering numbers or abstract information, and the Loci Method helps us overcome this hurdle.

Let’s imagine a story with a beginning, a middle and an end, okay?

A practical example

Suppose you need to remember to buy cheese, bread, vinegar, toilet paper and soap. One way to do this is imagining the road you take to go to work, which is a path you are used to seeing every day.

In this example, you have a car made of cheese, okay? So you’re driving this cheese car to work, and park it in a garage made of bread – a huge loaf of bread. On the way, there is a bridge over a river that smells like vinegar: it is vinegar! The scent is so strong that you cover your nose with some toilet paper as you cross the bridge. When you finally get to work, you open the door to your office and step on a bar of soap someone dropped: you slip and fall in front of all your co-workers.

And there it is: this absurd story will make it easier for you to remember that you must buy cheese, bread, vinegar, toilet paper, and soap.

What we did here was transforming a list of things without significantmeaning and coding it within a rather absurd story, rich in visual details. The whole story takes place on a familiar path, which is the one you take to work every day.

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A second practical example

As this technique may be new to you and many others, I’ll give you another example, okay?

Imagine that I show this information: CAGHENESCA.

It is very likely that you will forget this combination by the end of the video. However, it will be easier to remember if you break down the information: the letter C represents carbon, AG represents silver, HE stands for helium, NE stands for neon, S stands for sulfur, and CA stands for calcium.

But you could also think of a pencil, a silver coin, a floating helium balloon, neon lights, a strong smell of sulfur, and a box of milk enriched with calcium.

Or you can use the Loci Method by making up a story: I was at home and opened a drawer to pick up a pencil. I went out and sold that pencil for a silver coin. I walked to an amusement park and used the silver coin to buy a helium balloon. I had fun for a while and decided to walk back home at night. I saw stores with bright neon signs – it was breathtaking, but so was the smell of sulfur coming out of the sewer – it was unbearable! I decided to rush back home. When I got there, I brushed my teeth with toothpaste enriched with calcium, which is good for my teeth, and went to sleep.

This is a study technique that can be really impressive because it is very powerful. I’ll tell you a secret: this is the method used by memory champions. They code every piece of abstract information with images. That’s how they are able to memorize impressive numeric sequences and appear on TV shows or take part in international memory championships.

Now that you know this, I’d like to ask you a question: How useful would it be for you to remember random combinations of numbers or letters? What is the use of memorizing CAGHENESCA or long numbers? Probably just winning a prize in a memory competition.

It may seem a bit difficult for you to find the right moments to associate certain data, or memorizing small stories like the ones I just told you. However, you may find a good way to apply this if you are studying information such as constitutional principles, grammatical rules and exceptions, dates, formulas, or specific numbers.

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Be careful not to be the type of person who holds a hammer and starts thinking everything they encounter is a nail. Do not try to apply this technique to remember everything. In most cases, it will be far more efficient to use other study methods.

In my research, I have found this technique to be very useful while memorizing extremely abstract information or things which you rarely need to remember. Although this is an ancient technique, it is incredibly important – and powerful!

If you need a little more information as to which techniques to use in different situations, I invite you to learn more about our course on learning. Just visit this link.