Rooting memories in Places

Updated: Aug 17


This article is probably going to be a slightly different one than the rest you have read so far. This piece of writing is not simply intended to feed you with information but to also assist you to realize the potential of your mind.


Amongst several cognitive functions of the human mind, human memory has always been a concept of fascination and curiosity for early thinkers of psychology.


Through the course of this article, you and I are going to go on a journey. By the end of this mental journey, you would have most likely learned a new memory enhancement technique known as the Memory Palace or the Method of Loci.


There is no extensive training required in getting the hang of this method of memory enhancement, allow me to guide you on a trip down a memory palace.


It’s Sunday morning and it's time for you to go on your weekly grocery run. Not believing in the archaic method of writing a list down nor wanting to become dependent on technology to make a digital note, you decide to trust your memory and set out.


Do you think you will be able to accurately recall all items that you need for the week, or would you go back home and realize that you missed out on quite a few items? Why don’t you try to recollect the last shopping list you made? Go on, give it a go.


Have you experienced similar incidents in different settings where your memory fails to be as strong as you think it to be?


What if you were able to enhance your memory by constructing a memory palace and restore your faith in your mind's capacity to remember things accurately?

If you wish to give this method a try, continue reading this article as we take a trip down the memory palace.


Take a moment to eliminate all distractions around you.


Before we set on our journey into the memory palace, I would ask you to visualize a space, for the ease of this trial run, let us visualize Monica’s apartment from the popular sitcom F.R.I.E.N.D.S.



©Evelinaa, 2020


See yourself pushing through the green entrance door, the kitchen with the blue cabinets is to your left, you take a step forward and notice the beige flooring. Notice the different shades of beige on the floor. Let the emotions of nostalgia and comfort sink in.


Now look up to the dining table and remind yourself of all the thanksgiving parties that took place there.


Look to your right and observe the living room, the individual elements that come together to form that space, the couches, the coffee table, the television, and the famous green ottoman. Let your eyes be drawn to the lilac doors and walls. Remember why this space means something to you, the emotions that you felt in the last episode of the show, the last scene when the doors of this apartment shut for us. Take your time to let the space and its feeling set in.


Once you have established the setting, we move to the next phase.


You now have to associate one item from your grocery list with one physical component of Monica’s apartment. As you push open the green entry door, think of the green spinach that you need for your soup.


Let your eyes graze through the beige floor and be reminded of toasted bread for your breakfast. Look over to the dining table and see a fruit bowl full of apples, bananas, and oranges, all that you need to pick up from the grocery store.


Walk past the table and towards the kitchen counter, have a look at the dishwashing soap kept there, isn’t the one at your place almost over?


Now quickly go through these spatial associations once again.

Green door- Spinach

Beige floor- Bread

Fruit bowl- Apples, Bananas, Oranges

Kitchen counter- Dishwashing soap.


Visualize these items in relation to their spatial cues once again.


Now you head out for your day’s shopping, when you reach the store, visualize the memory palace you created and pick up the items as and when they appear in your journey.


Though the information used in our trial run was rather simple and as some of you may argue that it could have been memorized without using this mnemonic device*. The understanding that we need to have here is that through this method, physical elements which exist in the mind are given meaning and significance. Interaction with these physical components and spaces evokes relevant triggers in the brain which help in the retrieval of the information. Thus even in its virtual form, space and its components provide enough stimulation to the mind.


In its application, this method has been in use since the time of the Greek civilization, who would encode information in their mind and retrieve it when needed rather than writing them down and risking a breach of information. The armed forces and other professionals who are required to memorize long lists of information in different forms adopt this method.


We as humans have a higher chance of remembering information when it is visualized in a setting rather than in a simple textual form. This proves that the person-place relationship is one that is not just superficial, but one that is engraved in us. The person and the place are thus inseparable.


Keywords: Method of Loci, Memory Palace, Memory enhancement, Mnemonics, Spatial associations.


*A system such as a pattern of letters, ideas, or associations that assists in remembering something.



References


Evelinaa, 2020. Floorplan of Monica's apartment. Planner 5d.

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