New Member: Barbara, Germany

Hello fellow memory enthusiasts!

I guess most of you have read: Moonwalking with Einstein - I was especially intrigued by the entanglement of science, history and emotion in the book to capture the brain and its memorization capacity.

I’ve recently graduated my Master in Molecular Biotechnology and I feel on the verge of deciding my future career path (sorry for sounding so cliché). As I now have some free time on my hand I want to get serious in learning memory techniques to experience its transformational potential on my professional life.
So far I’ve dabbled in basic memory techniques, at best - I am missing a clear structure on how to train my memory. I’ve read the provided material and I think I am mostly just missing how to properly set up a training plan.

What my hope in joining this community is that you maybe could give me a hint on: with what memory technique it would be best to start and how to integrate training it best into one`s daily life (f.ex. remembering shopping lists etc).
Also I’d love to connect to you on a personal level and discuss all topics related to memory and (if anyone’s interested in my background of) science.

Let´s see how active the forum is! :wink:
Greetings and happy new year!


Welcome to the site! :slight_smile:

If you haven’t seen it yet, check out the how to learn memory techniques page. There is a free ebook there that introduces the basic techniques.

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Wow, that was a quick reply, thank you! :pray:
And it is nice to get to know you, Josh!

Yes I have been through the provided material and I am trying to customize it to my needs… I think what is still unclear to me is how to properly train these different techniques, meaning how to prepare a “learning schedule”. So any hint on how it worked for you is welcome!

If that is still to general, I’ll come back to you guys, when there is a more specific problem I’m encountering.

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For shopping lists you could use a body memory palace or a 10-location room palace (placing 2 items per location). This pattern of arranging locations is one way to start:

If you want to systematically train with numbers, cards, images, words, or names, try Memory League.

For ideas on things to memorize, check out the memory challenges section.

I’d recommend giving a few of the techniques a try (either from the free ebook or above), and then ask any questions you have — the more specific the easier it will be to answer them.

One task that many people do early on is to create a number memorization system. Basically, you create one mnemonic image for every number from 00 to 99. Then you can combine that technique with a memory palace to memorize numbers of any length.

Numbers appear everywhere (dates, addresses, phone numbers, credit cards, times, facts, etc.), and the number system can also function as a peg list that can hold even more information, even if you don’t memorize a lot of numbers.


Well thank you Josh!
I think I will give several techniques a try and see what works best for me.
Thanks for getting in contact with me! :blush:

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Congratulations. I am sure you will find your efforts very rewarding! There sure is a lot to know in Biological sciences.

My advice to people starting out is to start small and spend some time with your head to figure out what kind of images or connections work best for your brain.

Too often I see newcomers lit up with enthusiasm over some big plan. Like physical training, ability takes time to develop and reaching for too much too soon leads to frustration.

Memory techniques, like diet plans tend to be presented as a one size fits all method. People’s brain vary widely. Some are very visual, some are more verbal etc. Some connect with violence or shock, others prefer quieter images. Explore your own memories to find out what generates strong attachment for you.

When introducing people to memory techniques I start with a linked list. A technique for memorizing lists in which each image invokes the next. This is a very handy tool and doesn’t depend on having a previously memorized structure, like a peg system or a palace, in place. From there you can progress to peg systems, the journey method and memory palaces.


Thank you for your valuable advice! -
it seems like you have some experience in teaching :wink:
And yes, from an biological point of view it makes sense to see what works for each individuum. I tend to remember not visually or auditory but via feelings (which could make classic approaches more complicated) - is that unusual? And is there a clever way to work with it (and not against it?)

Thanks for giving me instructions where to start - lets hope Im determined and structured enough to explore it consistently!

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Hi Barbara, welcome here :slightly_smiling_face:

I don’t see (!) why that should be a problem. With any method, you are free to use all your senses or by preference.

Cheers and good luck!



Thank you for the kind words. I am not an instructor in mnemonics.

I too find that I am not primarily visual and for me verbal narratives give the strongest connections. I do use a lot of images but they are secondary like illustrations in a book.

Memory is like velcro. It works by making connections. The stronger and more numerous the attachments the better the memory persists. Dominic O Brian ( a memory champion who does teach) advocates richness of connections using sound, smell, touch and feelings. I might also add a fantasy story about how I got the object I’m imagining. Real memories have a wide net of connections. If your memories are attached by emotions, this is a very useful piece of self knowledge and you should definitely exploit it.


Thank you, kind stranger :wink:

If you don`t mind, I would be curious to hear how you remember facts best and what was your path to learn memory techniques.


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oh thank you, I like the image ( :wink: ) of using images as illustrations, feels like reading a cartoon. And especially the idea to use fantasy stories in remembering seems quite intriguing!

It is funny, as a pupil I apparently used some memory techniques naturally to remember facts short-term (like transforming Redox reactions into short stories or linking a word with an image), but I`ve seem to have lost it completely during my studies - maybe a sign that today studies are not well suited to intensify memory but rather recognizing facts… Did you also have to relearn remembering (aka conscious structuring how to memorize) or did you just have to refine your memory by using specific techniques?

Also I rarely remember stuff long-term (more than a month), do you think that improves as well when primarily training my short-term memory? I am wondering because to my understanding, long- and short-term memory are thought to have different underlying mechanisms and there might be more efficient to train both with distinct approaches.

I hope you enjoy reading me freely associating and don`t find it too strenuous…

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Long term persistence requires review. Often we only need the information for a short time, say a shopping list or perhaps an exam, but permanent memories are established by systematic review. There are methods for this too which you can find in this forum. Basically the spacing increases, starting with a
few hours later, then days, months etc.

Memory techniques are effective because they exploit the way we naturally remember things. I think most people, when first exposed to these methods, recognize them as something familiar, something they had done on their own but in a haphazard way. Perhaps a bit like studying the grammar of your mother tongue.

Choose images that you like, that you want to spend time with. It doesn’t have to be saccharine but the brain tries to mute or forget unpleasant memories - which is why cramming before an exam doesn’t work well. Your brain hates it.

Hi Barbara, sure, here is my story: many moons ago, when I was nearing my final exams in university (economics and computer science), I realized I wouldn’t pass unless I boost my brain power. I didn’t know anything about mnemonics back then, the Karteikastenmethode was about the best methods known among us students. Then I found a book by Tony Buzan and started applying the method. However, time was already scarce and no matter how good a method is, you need time to learn how to do it. So I applied the method only to one of my subjects and I got the best result in it. Had I had more time to explore the method and gain more confidence in it, I would have passed all exams with flying colours, no doubt. I never forgot the techniques, but didn’t fully make use of them when I started to work. I just hadnt realized the full potential and - worse - had never really made the method fully my own. I still made my own mnemonics, but not systematically. only sporadically. What I am using since that time, however, is the major system. I liked that from the onset and it was like a fun game to put eg telephone numbers into sentences or words.
Nowadays, I am using memory palaces for the best results. If I really want to get something inside my long term memory, it’s via MP, hands down. I sometimes use my alphabet (mostly animals) if I need to remember something short-term (say, up to a week), and have been tinkering with mind maps lately. I’ve also learned about mind maps during my university time, but back then they only frustrated my. I didn’t remember anything through mind maps back then. Now I am giving them a second chance.
By the way, I would consider myself being a visual learner, but my images get so much better, when I add auditory, emotional and touching senses, so I would encourage you to experiment with the senses that work for you.
All the best, MBDextrus

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Hi MBDextrus,

oh that was a very insightful story, thank you for sharing it (As you are mentioning Karteikastenmethode, do I spot a fellow German? :wink: )! I also hope to advance from using memory techniques only sporadically to using it persistently and it is nice to hear what works for you! I actually liked studying with mind maps, which didn’t necessarily help me remember details but topic connections and which stuck longer in my mind - what are you using them for now? :slight_smile:
From the recent days it just feels so painfully slow trying to train my brain to “store” images and slow down my thinking to actually remember (and not skip details), but I hope that I am on the right track, we’ll see.

All the best to you, too!

Are you sure that you are not a mnemonics instructor? :wink: you have an excellent style in giving advice clearly and constructive!
Oh that sounds like there is still quite a long way ahead of me for long-time persistence. My first week of regular memory training has left me a bit frustrated in how slow I am and unstructured. But I hope that it’ll become easier and more intuitive the more I’ll try.

If you don’t mind me asking, what led you to using memory techniques in your life?

Yes, you do :slight_smile: I live in the Frankfurt/Main area. And you?

If you stick with it for a little while, it becomes addictive. Since I recently restarted using mnemonics, rarely a day has gone by without me using them. What works for me is this: I only memorize, what I really want to keep in my lt-memory. Yes, the occasional (shopping) list, if I have nothing to write down, but that’s that.

I am currently experimenting with Mind Maps as an alternative to memory palaces. They don’t stick nearly as well, but numbering the “big points” helps (major or other) and of course many reviews. I don’t have many, but a few for music theory and a few for personal development (where reviews are fun and useful). I should add that I draw a lot of symbols and pictures to the mind maps to keep them unique and recognizeable.

I think that is a very natural reaction. Embrace it, cause it shows that you are rewiring your brain. That consumes some energy, but is a great thing to happen. And as long as you keep practicing, you are on the right track :grinning: :+1:

Have a nice weekend, Barbara

" 'tis a noble thing to educate yourself. Nobler still to educate others - and much less trouble!" / Mark Twain


I have done quite a bit of teaching and that experience taught me that the best way to learn something was to teach it to others. If you’ve ever taught, you will know how quickly your students will expose the limits of your understanding just by asking questions that occur to them.

I found this so effective that I internalized the process and now when I try to learn something, I imagine myself explaining it to a roomful of students who are skeptical and ask challenging questions often forcing me to rethink my grasp of the matter. In these forum discussions I have encountered at least one other person who uses a similar technique.

The downside is that I have an overly didactic style. It irritates people when they feel they are being lectured even though from my side I am just repeating what I have told myself.

Currently I live close to Munich, but I´ll leave to Canada soon for a short-term research internship :slight_smile:

oohh that sounds intriguing! :heart_eyes:
What kind of information are you storing long-term? More like specific facts for a topic of your interest, or rather information about people you care about? I am just wondering as I have the feeling that I can’t properly memorize if I haven’t set up a topic in my mind (let’s say trying to memorize capital cities of the world. If I wanted to remember a small fact that is not related (f. ex. a quote I find interesting) I don’t know where to store it) is there a concept like a miscellanceous place or a “filing system”? :joy:

Well, I imaging that your “mind mapping style” is clean and neat (don`t exactly know why) - mine is pure chaos :joy: anyways as an impression I wanted to share with you what my mind maps looked like for my studies.

And thank you for your encouraging words! :hugs: have a nice weekend, too!


Yes, I can totally related to that! And it is very interesting that you internalized it to a degree that you learn without having to engage in actual conversation. A friend of mine develops ideas by having someone just listening to him expressing his thoughts (á la: I think as I speak) - this has been a very fascinating (and alien) approach for me to watch (I wouldn`t necessarily call it conversations). I feel rather limited by my own mind to look at a topic from a different perspective, that´s why I enjoy having productive discussions.

This makes me curious: Would you say this limits you in conversations? Do you engage in discussions by asking questions or do you think people feel like you are not interested in their opinion (even if you are)?
I am particular asking because I want to understand (to me) unfamiliar thought patterns and how this translate into a conversation. I hope that this will lead to less miscommunication when I can better understand the intentions behind said words.

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IMO when people reach adulthood they tend to lose their appetite for learning and changing. They want to be comfortable, to feel that as adults they now have it under control. People do not like to think too hard or to unseat what they consider settled knowledge.

It’s a minority that retain a lifelong appetite for learning and uncomfortable change. Those who find their way to groups like this are usually of this type.

On the other topic: When I was a student in the 80’s I had a job at the University Computing Center where I stood in a room full of terminals and helped students with their code. Mostly I fielded predictable mistakes that every beginner has to make. But I noticed that even for more challenging problems I could often spot the problem very quickly because I was “looking over his shoulder” and not trapped in a mental groove like he was. Not infrequently, the person I helped knew as much as I did about coding but I had this advantage.

Another observation is that people would come to my desk and in the middle of explaining their difficulty a light would come on without my saying anything and they would rush back to their terminal. Sometimes I had not yet even grasped what they were struggling with.

These and other observations made me review my own thinking processes.