Observation/ Deduction Blog Entry 5

Topic: Memory Palaces

none of the pictures on my blog are mine by the way

Topics of Discussion:

What is a memory palace?

How can you build one?

subsections of how to build a memory palace

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What is a Memory Palace?

The memory palace technique goes far back before the invention of Sherlock Holmes. This is a real technique that is fairly simple to use, that everyone can use. The original origin of the memory palace is a long drawn out story you can look up if interested. I won’t go into all of the details here. However, I will say it was first called “The Method is Loci.” This method was consisting of different “loci” or locations to store information.

The main concept behind the memory palace is that you have a space in your head. This space is mapped out in full detail and you take a certain path every time you enter the space. In different assigned areas of this space there is information coded and attached to that space.

It will be easiest to understand through explanation of how to build one…

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How to Build a Memory Palace

1. Think of a place. This place can be made up or can be a real place. I personally find it easier to use spaces I know and connect them through a created hallway. There are many different organizational methods people prefer but I prefer to use different buildings for different subjects. For example, I use my house for my working memory ie. grocery lists, to do lists, study information, etc. and I use my parent’s office for another subject, my grandparent’s house for a different one, so on and so on. Then I connect them using a made-up hallway. I also have a made-up index building where each room tells me where to look for certain information in my palace. (My palace is pretty empty at the moment as I am reconstructing)

2. Come up with the most natural route through the place or places you have in mind. Walk through the door, where does the building naturally lead you? Always have a system of going through the room in a certain order, either clockwise or counterclockwise. You walk through the rooms until you have done this in every room in the most natural order that you can. This is the route you will always take.

The depiction of Sherlock’s memory palace is inaccurate. You cannot just wander around aimlessly, searching for information. You have to have a set route.

3. Make pegs or number the objects in each room. This is where it is good to go either clockwise or counterclockwise. Your pegs/numbers will be the objects you store information in. I will leave an example of my house. I personally find it works best to physically write down these pegs before you try to memorize their numbers or locations in your mind. This way you can decide where you want things before you rely on you mind to remember. When entering a new room always start at “1”. Always make your pegs large objects.

4. Before trying to store any information you need to walk through your palace several times. Practice your route and recognize where your pegs are. You want to be completely confident in where everything is before you try to store things there.

5. Once you are VERY familiar with your route and peg locations you can start placing information on your pegs.

Very important side note: The memory palace is designed for changing and working memories such as memorizing grocery lists or a deck of cards. It can be used for long term memory storage, but it takes a lot of work and review to keep hold of all of the information you are storing. It is best to start with working memory until you are used to using the system, then gather other information you wish to store and store it.

To store information on your pegs you first need to code it. For example, when I want to remember the 4 initial areas to look at when reading a person I open the door to my parent’s office and see a man in a shaker skirt running toward the end table, flipping onto the table while screaming. This tells me I need to look for physicality (the man is in good shape), clothing (the shaker skirt), nonverbal actions (the flip onto the table), and verbal actions (the screaming).

So… the premise behind coding your information is to come up with a mental picture of something outrageous. Make it as vivid and crazy as possible. Your brain is wired to remember strange things rather than common occurrences, you are simply using your brain’s wiring to your advantage. Have fun with it, create crazy pictures in your mind and then associate those pictures with your individual pegs. Like my man jumping onto the end table, I have made the man have something to do with that table so when I see the table, I immediately know that is what is there. Have your pictures interact with your pegs in some way.

6. This is the most important step. Once you have stored information it is pertinent that you REVIEW. This memory system only works if you review at least once every other day if I’m being generous. It is best to review once every day. If you neglect to review the material, you stored then it will go away. The best way to review is to just walk through your palace, see your pegs and let what is there come to you. If your image is vivid enough you don’t even need to decode it because you will remember what it means, but you need to acknowledge what the image is and where it is before moving on. Just walk through your mind, it’s not hard once you have everything set up.

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If you have any questions please let me know in the comments! I will be happy to answer any of them!

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Next Blog: How to Begin Nonverbal Analysis (Establishing a Baseline and the Importance of the Limbic System)

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Disclaimer: I teach people inductive/deductive reasoning and related topics. Most of the information on my blog comes from my own experiences and observations but some of it will also come from various different sources and is just information I use. I don’t claim ownership of information from other sources.

I have been studying these mindsets religiously for a while now and have been practicing memory techniques since I was in the sixth grade. However, I too am still learning. So if you have any suggestions or comments that are helpful to others that I neglect to mention please do so in the comments. I do not claim to know everything there is to know about these techniques. This blog is for educational purposes for me and the readers.

There are several books on the topics which I cover in my blogs. I can send you my working book list if you would like to read them. If you are interested message me.

Also, if you want a source for daily deduction practice material message me.




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I run the Ramblings of a Deductionist publication where I teach deductive/inductive reasoning skills and discuss related topics.

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