Having recall problems when images are isolated at their loci?

When memorizing cards or numbers, I am having huge recall problems when my images are isolated at their respective loci. The only way I can get good recall is when the action from one loci blends into the next.

Do you think this is just the way my brain works or could I be doing something wrong?

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Might be how your brain works as I have no issue with isolated loci.


Yeah it’s weird. When I have my images isolated there are so many gaps in my recall (but when I check to see what it was I remember making the image). I thought it must be the case that I’m simply a moron and will never get good at this. But when I tried it by stringing them mostly together along the route then all of sudden my recall was great. 🤷

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Yeah. That works. For me, the loci don’t interact with each other most of the time. It’s just 1, 2, 3, 4, 5… and so on. I can recall the order of things quite easily.


I had this problem when I started using memory palace but I do not have this problem now and I may not be correct in my next few words in italics,

*But I think that it was because I had just started using the Memory Palace and if you had recently started to use the Memory Palace then I think that maybe your problem can be solved with a lot practice *,


Have a Great Day.

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I first learned about memory palaces 5-6 months ago and starting card/numbers memorization maybe 3 or 4 months ago. But I don’t really do it every day.

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Alex Mullen said in an interview: “When I did PAO, I couldn’t just run through my journey and immediately recall the images because I had so many blanks.

We’re lucky that Alex didn’t have the same mindset. We would have lost a strong memory athlete.

Read the following text carefully.

I’m not implying PAO is somehow an inferior system for any person. Andrea Muzii is using PAO. He is the top-ranked memory athlete in the world. But why they had this issue in common? What does makes PAO an “inferior method” for both? It seems there is some deep answer to these questions.

Thankfully, Lance might shed some lights on it.

His wrap-up?

Really? Do we have any scientific data?
Boris Konrad—based on his investigations involving memory champions—reported that memory athletes actually have more narrative or even logical “images” rather than pretty visual ones

Continue to link between loci (you’re already doing this) or just link the image to the location like Alex. Your recall will improve.


That’s awesome! Glad to see that I wasn’t the only one having this issue and that that I’m not as big of a moron as I thought!

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Oh! This is exactly the problem I’ve been having and I’m so glad to hear I’m not alone.


In my analysis of number peg systems the PAO did poorly. The best performers were narrative based. There were four systems out of 92 I looked at that had an efficiency score of one or less meaning they had less mental load. The most common 2-digit PAO system scored 3.5.

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What analysis?

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@QiJitsu, I have my first post that discusses it here:

but the most updated version is always available on my github site along with the my glossary of terms and full systems analysis which is in progress.


Same, it is interesting to that some things work for some and not for others. Even among memory athletes our brains work quite differently from each other.

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I haven’t seen what I seem to be gravitating to, for numbers; PAO, and the linking method being a melody with each number corresponding to a musical note. Mind you, I’m nowhere near a memory athlete, so maybe this should be taken with a grain of salt, but this is working a lot better for me than a regular memory palace with a PAO happening at each location.


@meepster, I’m a fairly musical kinda guy so I like thinking about blending aural and visual systems. So, if I understand you correctly, you form a visual memory image of two or three digits as a PAO unit and then associate it with a note in a melody? The storage ability of a journey or palace is essentially because it is a location peg. But you are using a melody palace and note pegs? A journey never turns back on itself like a melody could do. How do you differentiate the numbers at each common note of a melody? Say Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony for example? Or how can you even see an image of Albert Einstein moonwalking at a C#? Very intrigued.

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It’s not like that. It’s more like using short melodies to link the six digit groups. So suppose I have to memorize 132435328043. I remember the first PAO, which ends in a 35. I then also remember a four-note melody linking the 35 to the 32 that comes next, which jogs my memory for the next PAO. For pi memorizing, where I don’t have to hurry, I also have the whole digit sequence represented as a melody, which eventually takes over from the PAO and which is how I remember pi. I can’t do that fast enough for the training task.


Hi @thinkaboutthebible !

So, if I am understanding your analysis correctly you are saying that a 3 digit system with one data option per chunk (i.e. for every 3 digits) with a narration format is the most efficient system?

So, with a PAO every number chunk has three data options associated with it (P, A, or O). You are saying having only 1 option is better?

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I believe you have a typo in the document. In your ranking, ranks 1 and 2 have the same description, but the description for rank 2 should say, “story based, 2-digit any data type?”

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You have a sharp eye, @QiJitsu! Thanks. I also found five other similar typos.

And for the best system using mental load as the only metric (people who have invested years into their own system would not benefit as much), the 3-digit narrative style had the best score, yes.

Here’s some examples for you but you can choose your own personal encoding style. I’m using digit to alphabet.

A 1-digit PAO for 123456 would look like:
((1)(2)(3)), ((4)(5)(6)) = Person A doing action B on object C. Another DEF image would be made.

A 2-digit PAO (the popular choice) for the same would be
((12)(34)(56)) = Person AB doing action CD on object EF. One image.

A 3-digit PAO for the same and adding a little would be:
((123)(456)(789)) = Person ABC doing action DEF on object GHI.

The 3-digit narrative style for the same would look like:
(123) → (456) → (789)

Each number chunk is mapped to a memory data type (SEA-IT, PAO, PAIL, etc.).
When you form a visual sentence by giving the image detail so it can be visualized and associated to more easily it looks like this with more association options.
Then when a narrative traversal is introduced to associate the two visual sentences, you get this:
A simple peg system without a palace to store the images looks more like this:
with the circled area being the traversable set of pegs. The PAO is what I call a synced peg system with three different peg sets all working in sync with an anchor type. In the PAO, the usual anchor is the Person but I have seen variations. In that case, the three memory images outside the circle would be associated as a PAO visual sentence and then associated with a location in a palace where it is associated with the previous location. Narratives are better for less associations.

The criticism of not having the ability for the PAO visual sentence being able to interact with the palace location is not a fair one in my opinion. It does mean that you are constrained to a particular location. But noticing details, using your imagination to develop more features at that location, or adding enhancements will provide opportunities for associations.

Maybe with your brain wanting to develop a narrative out of the palace location images, you are more of a story person. The story behind a palace makes it a journey and journeys are very useful. For numbers, @katiek, one of the best memory atheletes in the world, uses a journey style and kicks it up a little by adding a character of some sort to each location.


Awesome! Thanks!

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