Alternative techniques to memory palace?

Definitely something hardwired for monkeys to find bananas and avoid lions.
Work with your innate talent succeed. Fight against it fail.

Our working memory for abstractions is horrid. Chimpanzees crush us on multiple item visual recognition. But we use language, have empathy, and a sense of past and future so I suppose it’s only fair that the other Great Apes have better Now sense. That we are so weak is a bummer. It would have been much nicer to have a chimpanzee’s physical strength. First world problems.

I do think that it is valuable to exercise your working memory but it doesn’t have the staying power no matter how much you work it. With a very small number of claimed exceptions. If you have that part of your parietal lobe deformed you likely also have OCD and Anxiety to go with it.


Actually what led me to this question was that I was using the story method a bit while, but little modified, that is, I gave my Stories real life characters and places.

What I eventually found is that it works so well and gets stick quite well.

Eg: I imagine something like:-

Edwin(my real life friend) was vaccinated wrong medicine by the doctor near my old apartment, which altered his genes and he became small in size.(like antman?)

’ Edward Jenner(sounds like gene) discovered the first vaccine, against small pox disease ’

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As for Mnemonics I think they are very useful for short lists and orders.

Eg. For the colour sequence I would much likely prefer the acronym Mnemonic VIBGYOR rather than making a memory palace for it.

Even though mnemonics are not as effective as memory palace but, they can be created much more easily and rapidly than a memory palace or story.

Sometimes when I am short of time I look up for mnemonics on the internet and there’s plenty of good ones out there.(although I prefer making my own)

Is there any way to use these mnemonics to increase their efficiency and make them to stick for a longer time?

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Do you mean acronyms like VIBGYOR or PEMDAS? A memory palace is also a mnemonic device…

…you just answered it yourself. That is the tradeoff: speed vs accuracy.

Speed versus efficiency again. You could put them into a memory palace, but that’s a bit overkill for just those few colors… the 140 names of the web safe colors would fit that category:

So alternatively, go with Neurons that fire together, wire together. You could for example learn the braille alphabet. Then you could use your major system codes for P-E-M in one and D-A-S in the next location. If you forget the acronym, just translate your PAO back into braille letters via your binary system.

You’re essentially doing the same, but in a different way, so it will also strengthen the connection.

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Those of us who use ‘memory palaces’ rely very largely on purely mental constructs–sequences and patterns of loci that exist only in our minds. They may be based on actual real-world locations that we remember well, but when we use them, we just look inward, not at the real thing. The better your visual imagination, the more easily you can apply this method. But there are other helps and techniques as well. For one thing, real places that you actually visit can be very helpful. For a student, for example, a building or a path on campus that you walk regularly can provide visual (and other sensory) correlatives; you can visit it in person, not just in your imagination. And the richer sensory experience can create a stronger mental bond than mere imagination. This is the basis for what Australians call ‘song lines’. Lynne Kelly in “The Memory Code” explains this very effectively and describes how she applies it herself. She also refers to a tradition of the Luba people in Africa involving an object called a ‘lukasa’. A lukasa is board about the size of a notebook covered with carved patterns, coloured stones, studs, beads, and other distinct objects that the Bumbudye, the official knowledge keepers, use as a kind of hand-held song line. They associate the objects and patterns of objects on the board with the stories and lore they need to remember. And while the board is small and the number of objects on it is not very great, the number of patterns that can be found on it is infinite. Something as simple as a fountain pen or a wrist watch can be used in a similar way. This is why we have souvenirs (and ‘souvenir’ means ‘memory’).

There are many avenues to explore in this vein. I recommend Lynne Kelly’s book as an inspiration. But in general, I think any memory process benefits from having sensory correlatives to the subject matter as well as merely imaginary ones. Think mass and texture, smell and taste, melody and rhythm, every way of feeling, it all helps build memory.

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How do you figure that souvenir means memory? I could make the case for memory aid, but it surely doesn’t mean memory. Its English equivalent, etymologically speaking, is to subvene. Depending on the context, synonyms for souvenir are:

  • keepsake when referring to something of sentimental value
  • remembrance when referring to a reminder of past events.

Thanks to the Battle of Hastings, a lot of French has entered the English language: a cow that ends up on the dinner table is beef (from the French bœuf meaning ox). Similarly, …

…there is a French word souvenir that means memory when it’s a noun; however, …

…when used as a verb se souvenir means to remember. It’s reflexive (“se”), so to remind oneself (of something,) might be a grammatically more accurate translation. Note that there is also the French word mémoire which also means memory.

So just like with the Battle of Hastings, we have Julius Cesar to thank that French is just full of Latin. Here you’ll find the verb subvenire which autocorrect will automatically split into sub + venire for you, as I’ve just noticed. These two in turn are under or upwards (sub) and to come (venire).

From that you get two similar but slightly different meanings: support or assist in the sense of coming to someone’s aid; hence, the meaning of memory aid. Or in the more literal sense of coming up; thus, from the depth of your mind up to the surface.

There is a similarity with tip of the tongue there… where the word is on the tip of your tongue but just won’t come out. So subvenire is the act of:

going down into the depths of your memory and retrieve (bring to the surface) some information and a noun that helps you to achieve that would be considered a memory aid.

If you take the original Latin back into English, you end up with the verb to subvene (which I’ve mentioned at the very top) or the noun subvent (support or assist by the payment of a subvention). Now, autocorrect is highlighting subvene, so probably in the 1,600 SAT category then; but intervene (it’s more common cousin) works the same…

If you intervene, you come between something in order to stop it. “Inter” is Latin for between. So when you subvene, you come under something to support it.

I think this makes more sense than simply saying ‘souvenir’ means ‘memory’… that’s like me saying, bra means good in Swedish because it keeps them from falling into the soup. After all, you’re talking about one possible French translation.

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I could not agree more, Jimon! The books by Lynne Kelly completely freed me from limitations how many and what kind of memory palaces I can have. Not only… now I only pick memory palaces that will benefit me in some other ways as well (like famous paintings and etc ) and not worrying about creating artificial memory palaces or using some movies for information I need to memorize. Song lines, lukasas and etc… truly opened a different world for me. I know other members/competitors/Josh in his book were talking about using sensory experiences but, for some reason, it only clicked with me after I’ve read the books by Lynne Kelly.


Mnemonics are very effective but limited in their depth and complexity. They exploit verbal structures rather than visual or spatial structures. It’s more akin to a linked list or a journey than a palace. IMO one could make a verbal memory palace by adding artificial details to a well known story or poem.

The Major System is a scheme for constructing mnemonics.

Ahh the power of mnemonics and mental images, now those of us whose Swedish is limited to ‘Abba’ and IKEA and who had absolutely no desire to learn more, will forever be unable to forget at least one Swedish word :stuck_out_tongue:


It’s probably just semantics, but the Major system is a mnemonic—that is, it’s a technique for memorizing information, which is the definition of a mnemonic. (Forgive me if I’ve misunderstood your post, but it seemed to me that you were equating “mnemonics” with a specific type of memory aid or technique.) A memory palace is a mnemonic, just as are the peg system, the Major/Dominic/etc. systems, acronyms, sentences like “Every Good Boy Does Fine,” etc.



I rely a lot on visual mnemonics and songs. I find that traditional memory palaces fail to easily stick for me, and so I use my fail-safe methods.

You can explore with every combination of it
Memory palace it self is strong, but you can play with zoom in zoom out to make more, or you can play with mindmap

Zooming in and zooming out - hey, nice idea! That’s something I’m great at visualizing (I have mentally zoomed in from an atom to the universe too many times).

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What do exactly mean by zoom in zoom out in a memory palace?

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I mean refer to yanja she use street and map for loci, she is literally building memory cities, if we want to get detail about something maybe you get detail by use smaller pallace

Just to clarify: @Firman is referring to Yanjaa Wintersoul, a memory champion and world-record memory holder. As far as I know, she doesn’t participate here, but she does have a Web site and a number of memory-related videos on YouTube. She is also one of the memory champions featured in the Memory Games documentary.

If you’re interested in learning more about the concept of memory cities, though, I’d highly recommend searching here for posts by Mayarra that explore this in detail.

I’m not sure what ‘zooming’ is. I can guess. I use a nesting technique. An item in a Palace room, might itself be a Palace with its own chambers.


An aside:
I am strongly averse to label fights. They are usually a complete distraction and amount to a power struggle over who has the right to define the meaning of a word. When there are consequences, e.g. What exactly is a US citizen? or when there is a need for clarity “What do you mean when you say ‘hate’?” , it makes sense to investigate but otherwise, it’s a red herring and the main thing is understand each other.

In my mnemonics, the Major System supplies only the consonant skeleton for a mnemonic. I don’t use stock words, as some seem to be doing, I make them up for the individual use.

In my table of squares 882 = 7744 FiVe CooKie RoweR

To my thinking, I invented that mnemonic using the Major System as a foundation.

Zoom in - > you see the palace as a super massive version of what it was originally. Your size in this palace doesn’t change so you are very small or your view of the palace is that everything else is very big.

Zoom out - > you see the palace as a very small version of what it is originally. Your size in this palace doesn’t change so you are very big or your view of the palace is that everything else is very small.

Clarification, as zooming in can refer to the object being zoomed into or zooming in from the objects perspective, distinguishing between whether someone means zooming in or zooming out requires context.

It carries some importance as you may find it easier to manipulate and see smaller objects at once, or you find that you have more spaces in a large memory palace to place objects because they can now be subdivided by whatever else there is. There are many more possible benefits but this should clarify things.