Miniature memory palaces - including your palm


I think,it is by using Lukasa a couple of times,one can understand its effectiveness…


About 20 years ago there was a very interesting Sci American article on human evolution which proposed that human intelligence and linguistic ability had at some point been driven by sexual selection on the part of women. That women were sexually attracted to displays of intelligence and linguistic ability and this forced a period of rapid advance.

I speculated on this that there might have been a period of intense warring that gave great advantage to any advance in communication or organization and planning. Or perhaps rapid climate change when suddenly vast amounts of knowledge needed to be transmitted and understood to deal with the complexity. Some initial kind of environmental pressure might have ignited this preference among the women - is my own speculation.

Anyway, they pointed out, very plausibly that in many cultures there are traditions of men serenading women, writing poetry to them etc. In our culture men are still the main joke tellers. And I have heard women say directly that intelligence is a turn on. They argued that at least vestiges of this were still operating. I won’t go on with glib examples but I’ve always felt there was a lot to that idea.

I am not shy to confess that I myself have wooed more than one woman that way and it felt natural. Whether that was resonating with some deep instinct or I was just lucky, I don’t really know :slight_smile:

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Must look into that. Do you have to have physical access to it or do you carry an image?

Even in literate societies, people had to depend on their memories. Books were very expensive and you might not even be allowed to read it. It was common practice for a scholar to spend his youth visiting libraries and memorizing the texts for later study. This knowledge was brought home and “published”. He would teach what he had to others.

The Talmud for much of its history was transmitted orally. This by design, it was not allowed to be recorded. At the head of each section there’s string of letters, a mnemonic which references the main topics. Eventually it did get written down. One in one place a 12th century commentator, who had a great deal to say about this particular text, remarks that he has never had the privilege of actually seeing or reading this book. He was relying on memory that had been transmitted to him orally.


Hi, Lynne! I wonder if you’ve done anything more with Children’s Games.
I took a look at the PDF I sent you with an analysis of the games. ( They started in the lower left corner with knucklebones, so I decided to do the same. Then I noticed that I could easily find several loci in the isolated knucklebones scene itself. I took Bob’s idea of really being in the scene. I imagined I could hear the sounds and understand the girls’ emotions. The article says the girl in profile has just thrown two “dogs”, which means she’ll be unlucky in love.
I think if I use the last locus in the scene to link to the next scene, that may help me navigate the paintings’ various scenes.
I’m eager to hear how you’re approaching this, Lynne!

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Hi Carollyn,

I wish I could offer more. I am still in the publicity stage of Memory Craft and so have interviews and lots of emails and questions to deal with every day. So time to try something new just doesn’t exist, keen as I am to do so. It is always like this for a few months after the publication of a book.

I really appreciate the pdf and article. I got out my books on Bruegel and, I confess, got so sidetracked that the short time I had ended up reminding myself why I love his work so much.

Are you encoding something specific or just establishing the memory palace track?


This is fascinating, zvuv.

I know a bit about the medieval memorising of books and even the way libraries were created from memory. But I know nothing of this aspect of the Talmud.

Is there anywhere I can read more about the mnemonic devices in it?


Hi, Lynne.
Good luck with your book launch! Thanks for responding even though you are so busy!

Right now, I’m just creating the loci. I find once I have a set of loci, I get lots of ideas for how to use them - having the tool inspires me to find a use for it. :smile:
But I won’t wait till I’ve finished the painting to do that. I could do that with just a few, provided they are firm enough in my memory.

Drawing is really helpful for me. I just take out a pencil and paper and try to replicate the scene: the girl on the right, clutching her apron and tossing the knucklebone, the cap of the other girl. I notice the bone in the air looks like a butterfly. I use drawing as a tool to help me notice visual details. I’m not using color but sometimes I make a note about color.
I also try to imagine movement, and use all the senses - what would I hear in this scene? Smell? What is the feel of the knucklebone in the hand? And so forth.

Once I feel I have experienced the scene, I will consider loci and try to pick a memorable fifth locus in particular… I think I’ll get 10 loci from this vignette.


Hi, Lynne.
I started looking ahead to the next game, which for me is playing with dolls, followed by the altar game. I was enjoying the process, but feeling puzzled at Bruegel’s decision to show just part of the face of the girl playing with dolls to the left. And at the altar, I could not find a cross, which I thought would be a key object there. That was puzzling.
It turns out the Google Arts & Culture and the Wikipedia page are not showing the whole painting.
I found a much better version, which is more complete and uses macrophotography to reveal all the details, at the website of the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna. Here is a link to their site. Inside Bruegel
You just have to use the drop down menu and choose Children’s Games. Now we have the whole face of the girl on the left playing with dolls (she is smiling), and the cross, which is on the left side of the shelf on a red cloth. Being able to see more detail will make it a lot easier for me to find 10 items per scene. I hope this helps you too. :grinning:

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I found that after some practice sessions, I can just visualize the Lukasa board in my mind. And I can recall information without physical access to the board and just by visualizing the board.

Sorry for late reply…


This is fantastic. Thank you!

I am amazed that you are getting 10 loci per vignette. I was only trying one. But then I would use details within the vignette for more detail about the topic. It is such a fantastically rich painting!

I thought that you were doing ‘The Census at Bethlehem’. Are you trying both?

I want to use it for something specific, so I can encode as I go. I shall ponder that today.

I have always be afraid of being asked to describe spouse or parent to the police. I have little ability to visualise them although I can remember a picture of them. I read years ago that an inability to visualised faces was associated with difficulty in remember names. You don’t have an anchoring slot as it were?

Yes, I know exactly what you mean by not seeing. For me it is the feeling of a ghost hovering behind me. If I turned quickly enough I would catch sight of it.

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Welcome Mnt-Writer. This is a really friendly place, and I love your comment!

I think that you are talking about aphantasia.I have found it really hard to describe to people because most see images.

This is exactly my experience. I love the way you describe it as a hovering ghost behind you. Exactly. I intend to pinch that description and use it constantly! Thank you!

Thank you for the warm welcome. I work for an AI company where we talk cognition and human evolution on a regular basis. I persuaded a few people to read your book and we’ve enjoyed talking about the ideas.

I’ve always wondered how humans went from knowing “nothing” to knowing something. It takes a framework to hold and structure knowledge so where did the first structure come from? It feels so right that humans would use the landscape to create their first knowledge structures. “When the moon rises between the two peaks, the leaves are the size of aspens, and the first elk will start coming up the mountain.”

The Knowledge Illusion: WHY WE NEVER THINK ALONE By STEVEN SLOMAN and PHILIP FERNBACH makes the point that humans externalise much of their knowledge. We actually rely on others for most of our functioning knowledge. I know how a car goes (you push the gas pedal) but I have no idea how that moves a car forward.

All of which is to say it is quite thrilling to speak with you.

Have you ever read any of Temple Grandin’s work? She is an animal scientist who is on the autistic spectrum. She recounts her surprise in learning that most people only picture an imprecise image when asked to think of a steeple. She always recalls a specific steeple. Do people who don’t have aphantasia, recall specific or generic images? Is there a continuum?


At the time I was studying, nobody anywhere was much interested. It was considered a curiosity from days gone by. This is a bit strange now I think of it. Being a central text of such authority, every letter almost was milked for as much meaning as could be squeezed out. Just the fact that the mnemonic chose the points it did as a summary could be worth something.

There was great emphasis and social reward for mastery of the material and being facile with it, nobody was impressed with rote memorization. Indeed some did have great memories and could recall chunks of text but if you had to put effort into it, you’d probably get chided. Given the amount there was to learn, it seemed like a waste of time. I think a modern Law student would probably make the same judgement about his material. Unlike some Christians and many Muslims who put a lot of effort into just memorizing texts, I never saw anything like that in the Yeshivas.

And I’d hardly thought about it in almost 40 years until this post. The decision to write down the Talmud was made IIRC in about 600AD for fear that it would be lost otherwise, but as I say, this method of memorizing texts to build a library went on for another thousand years until the printing press. But by my time there was no trace of it in any of the study culture other than these cryptic little sequences on the page.

I do wonder now that you ask. And if that existed, it seems likely there would have been other memory devices too. Mebbe I can dig something up.

Hi Elitely,

I am delighted to hear that you can visualise the lukasa easily. I am still constantly surprised by how well it works, and that ease of visualising it is part of the reason, I am sure. And it becomes so precious!


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Thank you for saying such lovely things, Mnt-Writer. I am so pleased that the ideas in The Memory Code have created interest for you and your colleagues. I love the realisation that “It takes a framework to hold and structure knowledge” - that is so critical to my ideas but have never expressed ti like that. I should! And thank you for the pointers to Sloman & Fernbach as well as Temple Grandin. They are all new to me. So much interesting stuff to follow up on.

As for generic or specific images, my husband doesn’t have aphantasia and I quizzed him - his images are all generic.

I would be fascinated by anything that you can dig up, zvuv.

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Well I did find some results on that. I posted them here for a couple of days. Not really comfortable leaving that stuff up for longer.

I only got the notification of the post yesterday. But I also had over 100 responses in emails, comments and messages, to a post I made on my blog about using Bruegel to memorise a course in classical music. So I am really struggling to work through them.

I have everything you posted in the email notification and greatly appreciate it.

Why not use “Grid Technique” to put items in the picture to be memorized…!

If I want to use an image for ‘loci’,I just use the Grid Technique after I have familiarized myself with the image. I feel,it is the fastest way to use an image for storing/encoding memory.

For example,in the image of Monalisa below,I created a 3x3 grid. I put my items in each grid/square. And I can get 9 ‘loci’ like that instantly. I can put this image of Monalisa on the wall of my Memory Palace room. I can put other images on the wall with Monalisa,and each one will give me 9 loci. If I put four images on four walls of the room of my Memory Palace,then,I will get 36 loci(very fast)

Just my way…I use Grid extensively. And it is time consuming to find out and memorize the ‘loci’ in an image. So,I feel,Grid technique may be the fastest(and more effective) way to do things! :slight_smile: