How are people so fast with images?

When looking at the scorelist at Memory League, it looks like a lot of people memorize 30 images faster than 52 cards. How is this possible? Using a PAO system, the amount of images needed to memorize a deck of cards is only 17, almost half as much as the 30 images. Also the images can be quite similar to each other. Does anyone have any tips on how to improve on image memorization? Do you chain images together?

I’d like to hear from you all


Most of all who memorise 30 images under 30 secs use method of loci as well as for cards and other disciplines. 2 images per 1 locus.

Personally I used to memorise images with linking method and got my PB of 27 secs with it. An average was 30-33 sec and most of the time I was confident recalling all images right. Then I switched on method of loci for images (before I was so greedy to spend memory palaces on images) and since then practiced it a lot. It took me 3 months of training to get under 15 secs. Now my PB is 14.50. And the average attempt at the moment is 15 secs. But recall accuracy is not so consistent. It calls for some serious work on it to make less errors as possible.
So my best advice to improve would be training a lot using method of loci with images. You need to get very familiar with your journeys/memory palaces to switch as fast as possible between loci while memorising.
As for images itself you will notice that you dont need to percieve all details of image. You just need to pick one significant detail from it to recognise it later. Usually i come up with sort of ministory from a pair of images or just piling image on image, make some meaning for it. And of course the most common mistake is mixing up images in pairs while recalling. That’s litteraly such a ruiner for each fast attempt. So obvioiusly it’s better if you make a good “cause-consequence” meaning for each pair to avoid mixing them up.

That’s exactly what makes you slow imo. Images in PAO or other system can be very similar. People, objects. Another thing is that decoding numbers and cards into images takes a lot of time. Those images don’t pop up immediately in your minds eye. But memorising images you are given a whole made up image percieved with eyes. It’s way faster. Just make some sense (the width of meanings that you can add to an images is HUGE) to an image and move on.


My ultimate tip is to reuse your memory palaces for image game mode, I will bet @sfep does that too. Because you will find the biggest problem with memorising images is how slow you move through the palace which drastically affects recall (e.g missing a location, don’t know which room this image is in…etc).

Now, with each reuse of the palace, you become crazier and crazier fast. I will confess that I have reused my home over hundreds of times to reach a speed of under 11s(not 100% though). After that, best to start using new places each day just so your mind does not develope the habit of forgetting whatever that goes on the same palace 20min or so later. Ultimately, this strategy is for you to feel the speed, but what you want is able to retain the images and it’s order within the palace for days, even weeks.

Now I can hit below 14s with each new palace I create.

Also, concentrate hard on the image btw, so no ghost image will appear when recalling.

Please note reusing memory palace constantly and continuously Won’t have ghost image only for the image game mode as the image pretty much don’t ever repeat for a loooonnnng time.


Umm cramping 3info into an image hence 17 image for a deck of cards…not too sure if that’s how people does it with PAO, I certainly could not when I tried PAO, struggle to convert most of the time when I started out.


If I get your point right, then no, I didn’t refuse any palace I used for any memory event. I keep reusing same (17 at the moment) palaces for all disciplines. But yeah they are meant to be only for training purposes. I do not use them for memorising something I really need to know for my work etc.

I think It’s good that you fastly can forget all that memory palace contains after training session.

I have not such problems to be honest. Sometimes it happens and the reason is high memorisation speed and two loci that are closer to each other than other ones. That’s why i prefer journeys. I made loci far enough from each other to “jump” between them without any cofusion as fast as possible.
I find metronome helps developing your ability to run through each journey. Also for warmup purposes.


I think it’s quite simple:
When you memorize 52 cards with PAO, it’s not actually only 17 images. It’s still 52 images, but 3 combined in one location. This takes more time than to just put an image that is presented to you in a location.

I put 2 images in one location on images, so I only need 15 locations. The fastest way for me is to just make the first image be on top or more active, and the second one on the bottom or more passive, then move to the next location.

For example, if the images were:


Location 1: The squirrel is eating the fries.
Location 2: The ATV drives over the buffalo.
Location 3: The fighter jet crashes into the bridge.

and so on.

The rest is just training.


It also kills some time by just quickly grabbing the last 4 images and make them into a story. I do this real quick now that I have to finish the short story after I press the done button ( I basically press the next button as fast as I could for the last 4 images) :wink:
let’s use silvioB’s example:
Car hit rock (I go so fast that I will see it as something else) plane burst out into cave. :slight_smile:


The thing is, you can “race” much faster here without worrying to hit anything. Have been at 17s with 1 image per loci. Usually just needing to pick something of the Image, and then, place it just enough and carrying on.
At the end I carried also 2-4 images.


I use images in short, side-chains, sometimes. When I remembered African countries, I substituted words and those words came with images from random mental generation. I create small stories with them and link some while others are their own stories. The way I remembered the flags is through the capitols and countries. Each flag is made into a motion picture. For instance: With Namibia :namibia:, I imagine Nebula from Guardians of The Galaxy. The capitol is Windhoek. I imagine her swinging a weapon like a hook that catches the wind to operate. I connect the flag by observation of the image. To me, it appears as grass on one side of a horizon and :sun_with_face: sky on the other. A ship is going into space and Nebula grabs it in takeoff with her wind hook and is pulled up. It’s likely just a thing of movement. There’s always a way to see a reminder of something else that can be used as an :anchor: with a tether to the image/info, etc.


There’s a lot of research showing that humans are able to deal with upwards of 2000 images with recall above 90% accuracy.

I’m not sure if it’s all humans, or if this has been tested with people who have aphantasia, but you can test it yourself during your Memory Palace creation.

For example, take a walk down any commercial street and go into all the stories, cafes, etc.

Then, draw their layouts from memory.

Finally, go back and compare your drawings to the layouts of the buildings. You’ll be astonished by your accuracy - even if you’re not a great artist.

When it comes to cards, you’re loading on more than visual information. You’re dealing with numbers, sometimes faces (if you operate that way) and abstractions like suit. Really, the only place suits exist is in a deck of cards, though it has conceptual parallels with hierarchies like a business or something like that.

This arrangement of information-types, which is at least 3 levels deep compared to just a picture, explains part of the difficulty with memorizing cards cold without a technique.

In my own limited competition experience, what slowed me down was switching between two techniques and relying heavily on the conceptual mode.

Since that time, I’ve sped up a fair amount, and that is because I’ve worked on making each and every concept more visual. But even recently during a demonstration, I still have the tendency to switch into the conceptual mode. I think that’s largely because it’s my favorite mode when learning a language or something language related, like my current Sanskrit project.

One book you might enjoy reading that goes deeper into this is called The Case for Mental Imagery by Stephen Kosslyn, et al.


Sometimes I do something that I call "visualization practice ". I do not know if it works, or if it is useful for memory training. But I almost sure it helps in drawing and painting.

I open my eyes and see a scene (still life, landscape, a painting, or just what is in front of my eyes.)
Close my eyes and try to recreate the scene in my imagination. Usually the first time I retain very little.
Open my eyes, focus on some detail, close my eyes, and add the detail to the image in my imagination.
Repeat the process many times until the image in my brain becomes full of detail.

I know it is useful for drawing, because it is easier to mentally project the image in the paper, and just draw on top of it, instead of doing a lot of trial and error with a pencil.
Many experienced cartoonists and animators can draw directly the final image without too much sketching.

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