Master Your Memory with the Memory Palace Technique
Our incredible brains are storage powerhouses. The average human brain has the ability to hold the equivalent of 2.5 million gigabytes of digital memory. Yet in the modern age with a world of information only a smartphone tap away sometimes the things we try to remember escape us like a conversation with a friend, the name of a person you just met or where you put your keys.
A 2003 neuroscience study on the drivers behind superior memory found that rather than supreme intellect or structural brain differences, those with exceptional memory used a spatial learning strategy, engaging brain regions such as the hippocampus, critical for memory and spatial memory in particular.
A tool that draws on spatial memory is the powerful Memory Palace technique used since the time of the ancient Greeks, to help store their memories for easy recall. The Memory Palace is a method of memory enhancement which uses visualisation to organise and recall information. The technique works by giving your memories something to attach themselves to through visually placing them in a familiar mental environment, your ‘palace’. You can then walk through your palace at any time mentally looking at your memories in order to retrieve them. The Memory Palace works to give our thoughts structure and context rather than having them float freely in our mind.
What Can You Use the Memory Place for?
What you store in your Memory Palace is completely up to you. It could be experiences you want to remember in vivid detail, facts, figures, ideas, conversations, study notes, a new language, the sequence of a presentation you have to deliver and so much more. The list is endless.
Steps to Creating Your Memory Palace.
1. Choose Your Palace.
A key to the Memory Palace is working with a space that you’re able to mentally visualise and walk through with ease. Pick a space where you are familiar with all of the details, like your home. Within your space visualise a specific route so you can recall thoughts in a specific order. The route might be mentally walking from your bedroom to the kitchen and so on.
2. Identify the Visual Details.
Now that you’ve chosen your palace begin a walkthrough in your mind. What do you see in the first room? Make a mental note of any distinctive features or objects and lock them in. The features could be things like a door, painting, or object. Each time you return to a particular room, move around the space in the same direction, perhaps in a clockwise fashion.
3. Fill Your Palace with Thoughts.
It’s now time to attach your thoughts, memories, ideas or facts to the features you identified in your palace. As a simple example, if you wanted to remember the health benefits of Lion's Mane mushroom, you might start at the door, and mentally place an image of a brain on the door in your room signifying Lion’s Mane’s benefits for cognitive function. You then might move on to how it supports cognitive function by placing an image of a cluster of cells on the next object, the painting, symbolising Lion’s Mane’s ability to stimulate neuron growth.
From there continue to walk through the palace and attach thoughts and ideas to objects until you’re done. If you’re new to the technique you may want to retrace your steps a few times, running through your thoughts and associated objects to cement everything that you placed in there.
You can return to your palace at any time to access your memory bank, going from the beginning to the end of your route in the same order.
The technique not only works to store thoughts and memories but enhance your visualisation skills. If you give the Memory Palace technique a go, we'd love to hear if it worked for you. And for extra mental support, reach for the Lion's Mane!
'Tides' by Kwangho Lee x Wang & Söderström