Simonides mnemonic technique
This memory trick was invented after a grisly event in ancient Greece. Back in around
500 BC, a Greek who won a wrestling match in the Olympic games celebrated by having a
feast at his house. A man named Simonides gave a speech praising the wrestler, then he
left the banquet hall. While he was out, the roof collapsed, crushing everyone inside.
though the bodies of the guests were mangled beyond recognition, Simonides could remember
where each person had been seated. By doing that, he could name all of the people who were
at the feast. Knowing where each person was sitting helped him remember who was there.
Simonides realized that he could use his imagination and a set of locations to help him
remember other things. The trick you just learned is the same as Simonides's trick -- but
you used places in your house instead of seats at a banquet table.
This trick helps you remember for the same reasons that telling yourself a story about
the pictures helped you remember. You are connecting all these different things and you
are picturing them in your mind.
With this trick you are doing one more thing: you are giving yourself a hint that helps
you pull out the memory of something. Sometimes all you need to help you remember
something is a little hint. When you think "bathtub," that tells you to remember
"duck" (or whatever you put in your bathtub).
First, walk through your house and find 10 different places where you could put
something. For instance, you could put something on the couch in the living room, the top
of the TV set, on the counter in the kitchen, the refrigerator, the bathtub, your own bed,
and so on.
Choose any 10 places you like, but make sure that you can walk from one to the next
easily and in the same order every time. Spend a little bit of time imagining yourself
walking from one place to another, looking at each one. Make sure that you can remember
all 10 places.
Next, look at the pictures you are want memorize for two minutes. When you look at the
pictures, imagine each object in one of the places in your house. The sillier the picture
you imagine, the more likely you are to remember it.
Do the same thing for every other item on the list. Imagine yourself walking from one
place to another in your house and seeing the things you've imagined.
Any time you need to remember a list, you can use the same set of locations in your
house. One warning: creating a new list usually wipes out the old one. So if you need to
remember more than one list you need to have more than one set of locations.
Try these tricks when you have to remember a list of things -- whether it's stuff you
need to buy at the store or vocabulary words for school -- and see how your memory
Exercise for mnemonic memory
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