Asymmetrical memory connection

A couple of years ago, someone on this forum desribed a “problem” that in a nutshell comes down to the following: after memorising numbers by means of putting objects in a memory palace it is much easier to answer the question “where did i put object X”, than “what object did I place in location X”. In diferent phrasing: the imagined connection between object and location is more powerfully triggered by the object than by the location.

I imagine this a not a problem for memorising a deck of playing cards in competition, since you can just reassemble the deck of cards by doing: this card goes to location … and this card goes to …

But for memorising let say 100 digits it is rather inconvenient. Very often when I have no idea what object I put in a given location , I try to count from 00 to whatever number is is the one I’m looking for. Usually as soon as I think of the correct number, the imagined connection will come to me like magic.

The original poster of this problem suggested an inverse memory palace (not sure if this phrasing was used) in which a prememorised sequence of objects is placed in locations determined by the to be remembered numbers (so the loctions are numbered and not the objects). I tried this method, but It felt really complicated.

I would like to know if there are forum members who have (had) similar problems with this a-symmetry, and how they have taken advantage/dealt with this.


If you mean by ‘locations’ loci or stations then I’m perturbed as I have always numbered my locations- partly because I’m hopeless at Math and need to calculate exactly how many loci I will need for any given memorisation. I have always assumed that was how everyone did it?
If you meant something else then can you please give an example?

My locations are also numbered - I don’t know them very well because I changed my memory palace a bit lately - but I don’ t use their number value, I just use the fixed sequence of locations. When you use the reverse memory palace you no longer need to know the number value of your objects, you just need to know the sequence of them. So when the number sequence you try to remember is 102341… than you take your first object (let say the hulk) and you bring him to location 10, next you take the second object (a tennisbal for example) and you take it to location 23, and the third object (a helicopter) to location 41. Finally you ask yourself:
hulk goes to location…
tennisbal to location…
helicopter to location…

The a-symmetry I described will make this part easier than asking yourself:
location 1 has object…
location 2 has object…

The problem I have with this method is that memorising the collection of objects as a sequence is much more difficult than memorising a sequence of locations. So basically you solve one problem and you get another one.

Another possible advantage of the reverse memory palace is that when your goal is be really good at the 100 digit event (makes a great party trick to impress friends and coworkers) is that you only need 50 objects. This means that you can select the best 50 out of a hunderd (if you have 2-digit system) objects.

On the flipside (or the other side, not sure) you do need a 100 locations memory palace; I just reduced my memory palace from 100 to 50 because it was to crowded, so I would need to make it bigger again and learn the numbervalue of the locations.

As a final note, let me just say that the mental logistics of this method seems complicated. But than again, it could simply be that like most of you I’m used to the “standard” method, so therefore I might be biased.

I have that all the time. But it doesn’t really bother me since I use a simple 2-digit PA system most of the time, which leaves me enough time to just go through 00-99 if necessary.

I also noticed something similar when I memorize laws. It’s not a bad thing there though, since I memorize the key contents of laws, mainly in order to know where to look up the information I need. So for example; where did I put “freedom of artistic expression”? My mind instantly jumps to the memory palace that I have for the Swiss Constitution and I see B.A. Baracus painting a statue of liberty. Which gives me the information I was looking for: For this topic I need to consult Art. 21 of the Constitution.

Usually I can easily remember it both ways (give me the Article and I can tell you the key content, or give me a keyword and I can tell you where it’s stored). But that’s because I review it with spaced repetition.

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You might be having a perspective issue.

I used to have trouble with some specific locations in my palaces, before I realised that I was visualising objects from a specific angle, then trying to recall them from a marginally different angle. What worked for me was a combination of correcting the angles where they weren’t the same, as well as visualising the objects interacting more with the space, rather than being an image imposed on a background.

Hope this helps

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Intuitively I feel that here is some merit to what your saying, however the solution you propose, as logical as is it appears, sounds a bit like having to fine-tune my car radio every 30 seconds in order to get the right frequency (I don’t want a car radio that requires such actions).

I also feel it doesn’t fully explain the huge difference between (after having memorised 100 or so digits) finding the memorised object in a certain location (relatively difficult) and finding the location in which a certain object was memorised (relatively easy).

My ability to make fast and powerful interactions between the object and the location absolutely needs improvement, but check out this next experience I have had (like many simular ones):
In an attempt to memorise 50 2-digit-numbers in just under 2 minutes I had to visualise a saxophone twice; first location on the round table in the office hall way and the second location behind the basketbal board in my schoolgym. When I revisited my round table location I had absolutely no idea what the object was, but when I when I was at the basketbal board location I not only saw the saxophone hanging behind the board but also immediately the saxophone on the table in HD quality.

One final possible explanation I can think of is that (part of) my brain in some way doesn’t understand the purpose of the memory palace. I mean when you visualise a new sequence of images you want the old (ghost) images to be gone from the memory palace to avoid interference. I feel that when I revisit the memory palace to remember the memorised numbers, I get a copy pasted clean version of the memory palace instead of the one with the images.

I have decided, because of this a-symmetry, to give the reverse (or inverse) memory palace a second chance. In order to do that i have to require the ability to visualise the sequence of number representations without thinking of their number value, so I can put them in the locations determined by the to be memorised sequence of numbers (thus needing to learn the number value of every location as well).

I have only started yesterday and I have to admit that learnig the sequence of objects, as strange as this may sound given that I already know the numbervalue of each object, is mighty difficult. I have to be able say shovel, boat, helicopter, alarm clock as easy as 1,2,3,4.

I have reason to believe, that this method requires a bigger investment than the normal method, but may turn out te be more effective in the long run. Anyway never a shot fired is always a miss.

Could please someone exemplify the method?