“This ancient memorization technique enhances memory by making images more vivid, I have been using it since grade school” –Paul Ebeling
In Greek mythology, Mnemosyne was the personification of memory. In ancient Greece, prior to being written down, stories were recounted orally.
Because of that, memory played an important part in the life of an ancient Greek storyteller.
So, it is not too surprising that the concept of memory was given the form of the goddess Mnemosyne.
Plus, the Greeks also invented ways to improve their memories, 1 of these was the Method of Loci, which has been used for centuries in the Western world.
This technique is known also known as the Memory Journey, the Memory Palace, or the Mind Palace Technique. According to the Roman orator Cicero, this technique was discovered by a Greek lyric poet by the name of Simonides of Ceos.
Cicero related a story in which the sophist was invited to present a lyric poem at a banquet in Thessaly. Shortly after he presented the poem, Simonides was called outside, during which the roof of the banqueting hall suddenly collapsed. The other guests were crushed to death, many of their bodies mangled beyond recognition.
This made it difficult for the identification of the dead, which was required for a proper burial. By consulting his visual memory of where the guests had been seated around the banquet table, Simonides was able to identify all of the dead. It was from this experience that Simonides realized that it would be possible to remember anything by associating it with a mental image of a location, thereby developing the Method of Loci.
The Method of Loci relies on mentally visualizing the things that one intends to remember. These objects are placed in a particular order in various locations along a familiar route through a place, e.g. a city, house, workplace, etc. A mental journey with a starting and an ending point is made.
Therefore, when you wish to remember, for example, a shopping list, or the points of a speech, you only need to go on this mental journey in order to remember each element. This memorization technique may be further enhanced by making the images more vivid. For instance, the mental images may be accompanied by mental smells and sounds.
The Method of Loci memorization technique was popular in the ancient world and was eventually superseded by phonetic and peg systems.
However, recent research has shown that the memory palace technique can be very effective.
The report notes: “After spending six weeks cultivating an internal “memory palace”, people more than doubled the number of words they could retain in a short time period and their performance remained impressive four months later […] after just 40 days of training, people’s brain activity shifted to more closely resemble that seen in some of the world’s highest ranked memory champions, suggesting that memory training can alter the brain’s wiring in subtle but powerful ways.”
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