Linking versus Memory Palace versus PAO: when to use what?

[This thread was copied here from the old forum.]


outlawyr 15 August, 2012 - 18:48

So as I delve deeper into this I find myself wondering when it is best to use which technique. For example, if I had a list of just 10 items to remember, I probably wouldn’t bother with PAO or a Journey/Memory Palace. I would just link them. A deck of cards on the other hand calls for PAO and a palace. So I guess my question for everyone is, under what circumstances would you favor one technique or another. Obviously if you need a numbered list of items, PAO would be very useful. What other variables come into play?

Very interested to hear your thoughts on this, even if you’re new to memory techniques.

[EDIT: I just read this related thread: Loci vs Linking?

I’ll give you the executive summary:

  1. It’s possible to use linking within a memory palace, so that each stop along the journey contains several linked items.
  2. Linking is sometimes used to describe both “Two item linking” and “story telling”. Two item linking would be an elephant wearing a watch. A watch stuck in some butter. Butter on top of an airplane. A story would be there’s an elephant wearing a watch that melts into butter, dripping onto a passing airplane. ]

[EDIT2: I found another helpful thread dealing with loci vs linking when learning a language: Using Loci vs. Pure Linking


outlawyr 16 August, 2012 - 05:53

Hey, don’t be shy people. :slight_smile:

I just realized I should also add pegs to this. The first peg technique I learned was number rhymes:

1 gun
2 shoe
3 tree
4 door

etc. Very handy for a short (10 or less) numbered list.

Anyway, I’d love to hear which techniques you employ for which tasks.
For example, what would you use to memorize a poem, or learn vocabulary from a foreign language?


Hype 16 August, 2012 - 07:20

Poem - palace, I’m more likely to use an imaginary palace as some poems vividly describe scenes and I can use the picture of that scene as a palace.

Foreign vocabulary - two item link, using loci seems wasteful to me. Revision of vocabulary is accomplished by working in the language and it renders the need of loci for revision obsolete.

Short lists, i.e., shopping list, to-do lists, etc. - sometimes I’ll use a palace, other times I’ll make a story. It just depends what I feel is more efficient at the time.

PAO I use for numbers and cards. I use the Major system for short number codes like PINs and access codes (I feel like a threat to my local health centre because I have the pass code to every staff-only area memorised from when I shadowed the GP there for a week. :D)

I’ll use visualisation as a reminder for things. For example, if I want to remind myself to try a few shirts on when I get home to see if they still fit I image a bloody, tattered shirt hanging from the door handle to my bedroom. If I want to remind myself to talk to my dad about something, I’ll imagine that thing on the couch he always sits on. And so on for other such tasks which pop into my mind.

I use the standard names and faces trick when meeting new people, not sure whether this counts as linking to their face or using their face as a locus.

I memorise the price of drinks at a bar before heading out there with friends just for everyone’s convenience. Let’s me get a bit of practise at arithmetic, too. For this, I use a bar as a palace, and I use the one we’re going to as the palace if I’ve been there before. I use PAO for this, PA for the price, O for the drink.

I never use peg lists. I don’t like them. :stuck_out_tongue:


outlawyr 16 August, 2012 - 08:24

Hype wrote:

I’ll use visualisation as a reminder for things.

I do the exact same thing. I think of this as my “tie a string around your finger” strategy, except instead of a string you’re hanging an image in a place you know you will be. The place is where you want to be reminded. So I can picture a giant bar of soap blocking the entrance to my local grocery store. I have no idea when I’ll be there next, but next time I go, as soon as I see the front entrance, the image pops up and I remember to buy soap.

Same thing if I need to remember to do something when I get home. So the real place becomes the memory palace, and hopefully being in that real space triggers the image that will remind me to do whatever.

I like your idea about creating a custom memory palace for a poem so the rooms fit the scenes in the poem. I’ll have to play around with that.

Anyone else?


martin.craughwell 16 August, 2012 - 20:52

ya hype i love when you read a book and something happens in the book’s world and you mind has already created a place e.g. the bomb went of in the hotel(the hotel is now made almost without any work well at least the outside is) as you read the events. so if you want to remember what happened in a book or novel just think of where the character was in that part of the book.this makes it easy to memorize a novel or whatever.then you can use the novels place as a journey later for something else.i turned a bit of “1984” into a journey for random numbers.great way to memorize books i read catcher in the rye okay i didn’t try to memorize it but i still have some small bit and pieces like(spoiler) when he gets beating up.also you can go back to these places and add more info later.this mightn’t work for all books or novels but is still great.i never notice this happening when i was younger but now it amazes me.i always wanted to use “the lake isle of inisfree” by Yeats as a palace.i would have totally forgot only for your post.


GroFlo 20 August, 2012 - 05:33

I started with PAO few months ago, but poorly trained it so far. I still can’t get under the 10:00 to remember one deck of card.
But I found that with linking, it appears to me simpler, as I link 2 people each time, without the need to use long journeys. The problem is that some images are weaker, you can’t easily recall cards that come after (quite annoying when it’s the 3rd ou 4th card you can’t remember !)

But now, what I question is : do you think it’ll be interesting to learn the major system (sound for numbers 0-9 like s or z for zero, etc.) after PAO ? For cards, I now quite perfectly reconize them as person, but I found that in some case, when not using journeys, story with objects can be way more easy for me to memorize whereas some PAO appears difficult to link, to me.

But major system use a different encoding method : 0 is s or z, while in PAO, 0 is o.
I assume the first thing would be to avoid any similarities between objects and PAO, to avoid mixing them up, but does anyone know about people using both major system and O’Brien system ?


outlawyr 20 August, 2012 - 12:55

GroFlo wrote:

but does anyone know about people using both major system and O’Brien system ?

What system did you use for your PAO, Dominic? If so I would stick with that and not bother with the Major system.


Hype 20 August, 2012 - 14:36

outlawyr wrote:

GroFlo wrote:

but does anyone know about people using both major system and O’Brien system ?

What system did you use for your PAO, Dominic? If so I would stick with that and not bother with the Major system.

To provide a contrary opinion, I used a modified Dominic system to make my people with arbitrary/associated actions/objects. I’m about to move on to expanding mine to 000 - 999 for persons and objects. Will be going for Nelson’s theme-style person expansion and using the Major system for objects.

Different coding methods for different parts of the PAO pose no problem and will be very separate in your mind. However, using different codes for the same part of the PAO will be confusing at first, but nothing you can’t get over as the list becomes ingrained in your brain, but this would just be more work than is necessary IMO.


outlawyr 20 August, 2012 - 14:40

Hype wrote:

I’m about to move on to expanding mine to 000 - 999 for persons and objects.

Whoa, that’s pretty ambitious. Let us know how it goes.