how to distribute complicated lists in your loci


I am a dental school student that has to learn lots of complex structures that are all interwoven with one another. I’ve been trying to use the journey/linking method with them but it seems to take forever. Most of the explanations I’ve been given on how to use the methods are for short usually one word lists:

  1. light
  2. apple
  3. goat
  4. mouse

one long number, names and faces, simple shopping lists, etc.

here’s an example of one of the many tables I have to know by heart:

Openings of the pterygopalatine fossa:
Openings (column 1) - Pterygomaxillary fissure
Location (column 2) - Lateral part of the pterygopalatine fossa, between the infratemporal fossa and the pterygopalatine fossa
Transmitted structures (column 3) - Posterior superior alveolar nerve from the pterygopalatine fossa; 3rd part of the maxillary artery from the infratemporal fossa into the pterygopalatine fossa; A variable network of veins, such as the sphenopalatine, into the pterygoid plexus

That was the first row, there are 6 more openings with their own (similar sounding) locations, and transmitted structures.

I did have some success with one two column list but it took a long time to make. I used street intersections around my house.

any advice on how to tackle something like this would be great! thanks!

I’m memorizing loads of stuff right now at ridiculous rates which is just nuts, it is hard work and time consuming but you have to hit it at different angles for different things. So using a range of techniques is useful.

Concepts need mind maps to open up your understanding. Using mnemonics for lists are good. For abstract ideas or words you really have to change the image completely and this is what you need to train in if you want to speed through it. At first it takes a while to get into the habit of transforming a difficult word into an image because and especially if you have loads of them, it’s like writing a new language in your mind but you need to be careful as this can also stunt understanding because everytime you think of that object to remember you remember its image instead of understanding - so this where mind maps come in really useful.

I use a mind map first so i know what its about then i translate the words into images, then i place the mind map in image form around the room or whatever, make it come alive. SO they become inseparable - then i have both understanding and recall.

Keep at it

If you haven’t done it yet, you could memorize the roots first, since they are going to repeat:

Pterygo-maxillary = wing-jaw

Here is a thread about memorizing grids:

You could always try compounding images. I find it difficult, at times, to keep them straight. Once you’ve secured the image, though, it’s compact and quick to review.

For example, I would imagine the openings from the ship in Alien (that makes me think of openings, and of biology – the leftovers of a film criticism class), but with three openings. Out of one would fly a pterodactyl ridden by a foreign exchange student I knew named Max.

Out of the middle one I would imagine a pterodactyl flying sideways (lateral) or a very long pterodactyl (< Latin latus), upon which is a Palestinian. From the other side of the opening the side of my brother’s face would push through a membrane (in = inside, frat = frater Latin for brother, and temporal = temple of the head). Inside, he would be standing on a ditch (fossa = ditch in Latin.)

And so on and so on. You can compound meanings within the images. Often, however, I have done this and preserved the image perfectly only to realize in hindsight that I messed up in my interpretation of the images. As was mentioned above, learning the roots may help.