Ask a memory champion [2]

(Simon Luisi) #61

Ben, do you know what is more tiring? Memorizing or recalling? Say, you spend 2 hours trying to recall pi, a number you already know and then compare this effort with memorizing random numbers for 2 hours without recalling them. Which challenge would tire your mind the most?
Or maybe neither is as tiring as building and improving a memory system?

(Ben Pridmore) #62

I really couldn’t say - I’ve never tried memorising something without recalling it, and I’ve never really tried recalling except immediately after memorising (apart from pi, twelve years ago, and that’s so far in the distant past I can’t really remember it…)

I’ve only ever practiced by doing the disciplines of memory competitions, as close as possible to the real things, I don’t tend to think about things like this. Building and improving the system was fun, though, not tiring in the least! :slight_smile:


Hi mr. Ben, have you tried breaking a word or a name into single syllable and use your 1000 digit images as images for those syllables?
If someone has a name Marcus - mar (314) kus (750).
So my image for Marcus is a marigold(314) bathing in the jacuzzi(750).

Concept - kon (742) sep (029)
Boris - bor (944) ris (430)
Konrad- kon (742) rad (411)

(Ben Pridmore) #64

No, I haven’t, but it’s a sensible idea! In names and faces competitions I do (inconsistently) try to take the first syllable of a name and picture my image for that, but I haven’t tried doing multiple images for a longer name. Maybe I will! :slight_smile:


Please do tell me if it is working for you.


Hello Ben.

I am humbled to write to you. Thanks for everything you did for the community.

A couple of years ago, I stumbled on “Moonwalking with Einstein” and was so enthusiastic. But then I got frustrated because what I learned on memory palaces faded away after some time and I had no discipline to reviews my memory palaces.

Now I am back in the game,for study reasons. And I learned that you can get that discipline of reviewing what you learned on memory palaces thanks to the software Anki (flash cards / space repetition app).

I was just wondering if you had any info about this kind of method. And if not, how do you get the discipline to review your memory palaces used for long term recovery.

Kind regards,


(Ben Pridmore) #67

Hi Alexandre, and sorry I didn’t reply to this question a month and a half ago - I just didn’t notice it.

My answer isn’t a very good one, sorry again - I really don’t know anything about Anki or long-term memory and recall; it’s just not something I’ve ever done.

But hey, if anybody else wants to ask a question that I might be able to answer better, please do!


Thanks for your answer Ben !

It is an interesting answer for me anyway !

For those who want more informations about the question I asked :
I made my research meanwhile, and Alex Mullen has got some great tips about it.

He is using memory palaces is his medical studies.


Hi Ben, big admirer of yours. My question is about remembering events. I constantly forget what is in my diary, so if I don’t have it on front of me my time is without limit. I constantly forget meetings, dates etc. Is there a technique I can practice that will allow me to recall what’s in my day with clarity?

(Ben Pridmore) #70

Honestly, that isn’t something I’ve ever tried to use memory techniques for, so I don’t think I can offer any very good advice here. But the classic memory technique of making an image out of every diary event and the number representing the time, should work in theory.

Personally, I’ve always liked the old-fashioned method of tying a piece of string around your finger as an aid to memory, although I don’t know a good way to apply that to a busy diary with lots of appointments…

(Nicholas Mihaila) #71

Hello Ben, I’m a huge fan. I just had a question about image linking in a journey. Like you, my images consist of both people and objects, so occasionally I get multiple inanimate objects in succession. I was curious if you had any tips about dealing with these cases. Lately I’ve been experimenting with having the objects take on animate qualities (For instance, shoes could walk by themselves.) or simply fall into each other. Is there a more effective approach that’s worked for you?


Ok no problem, thanks for responding.

(Ben Pridmore) #73

My objects do all have a certain personality, maybe movement, that they’ve developed over the years. Falling into each other is a great way to visualise them - I tend to have them stacked top to bottom if there are a lot of inanimate objects in a row, but they’ll all tend to interact in different ways depending what they are.

I think really it’s a case of getting to know all your images, and what they’ll “do” in any situation!

(Nicholas Mihaila) #74

Thank you for the response. That makes sense.

(Nicholas Mihaila) #75

I have another question if you don’t mind. How often do you have to practice to keep your images fresh? For instance, if you took a month off how would that affect your times?

(Ben Pridmore) #76

I never mind answering a question!

Nowadays, I often take time off from practicing, and I find that my images are almost as fresh as ever - I practically never have to consciously think what the image is, but the whole subconscious process is maybe a little slower than when I’ve been in consistent training. I think my images are all permanently burnt into my brain by now, so maybe I’ll never be able to forget them!

When I was still less familiar with my images, long ago, I never took more than a week or so off - and that was usually just before a competition, so my journeys were fresh.

(Nicholas Mihaila) #77

Oh, okay. That’s really cool. I was curious how resilient such a large system was to atrophy after so many years of practice. Thank you for the response. :slight_smile:

That makes sense. As for me, I’m really busy with school and work but I’ve still been practicing daily. I’m hoping to be able to allocate time for daily practice for years to come.


Hello Ben!

  1. I’m going to remember about 4000 Hungarian-Polish words.
    Then I need about 4000 loci.
    What is the best way to do this according to you?
    How would you prepare such number of locations? Places you know, Google map?
    For me, impotant thing is that everything is logic, so in every place: room, shop (whatever) I have the same number of loci and it’s not always possible to provide. I think it’s not useful to jam loci at a push just to have specified number of them.

  2. I would love to prepare a Millenium PAO. My idea to do that is: to have a person I know for every particular number from 000-999. People we know are connected to some emotions and they are helpful while memorising. It might be difficult to provide 1000 people, but I think that we don’t have to know them very well, but at least meet them few times, there are still some emotions about them and we just know them.
    Then I would have a person every each set of loci (I mean e.g. one room = 5 loci = one person) and it, again, might be very helpful.
    What do you think about it ?
    I’m glad I can ask my questions person to so experienced and know-how person like you. I’m grateful for you, greetings!


i have one question, have you ever tried to force yourself to forget one certain thing and then focus to remember it? and if you did, how was it? is it a good method


Hi all and Ben, i’m french ( sry for the language mistakes! ) and I discovered the art of memory lately. I have read your comments and would like to share my thoughts on memory. I read Joshua Foer’s book and learned your results and I’m impressed by your creativity! moreover, I wish to extend the method to quickly learn to translate words. The idea is to associate with each syllable of two letters an image (with a fictional character and an object) and associate on each locus a character with two objects in each of these hands. I’ve also been thinking about the problem of preparing mental palaces, and I think associating a surface such as a table or chair to a number between 0 and 9 and follow the logical order of the Numbers to structure spaces. What do you think about this ideas?
kind regards