Not enough Memory Palaces


I’m halfway through reading Moonwalking with Einstein by Foer and am excited about starting to improve my memory by memorizing the titles and casts of feature films using the memory palace technique. If that works, I’d like to move on to speeches and books, etc. However, I don’t understand how to deal with the problem of having a very small number of palaces compared to the huge amounts of information I would like to store. It seems like I would have to use the same palace for different groups of information, but wouldn’t that get very confusing?


Building Memory Palaces
Memory palaces: Not enough

A lot of the top competitors use thousands of loci. Why a memory palace? Why note use a journey? Dominic O’Brien advocates a journey method and uses examples in towns or neighborhoods. Heck, in an old neighborhood of mine I can think of a walk where I can have several hundred loci. Basketball court to patio to shed to swing set…

Dominic memorized the 7500 cards of deluxe Trivial Pursuit. I don’t think he used the journey method for this.

Also, Dominic in his book, How to Pass Exams, advocates using virtual worlds, e.g. computer or video games.



I think loci are one of those things that seem harder than they are. Are you a student? Each of your class rooms is a loci. Local coffee shop? Loci. Gas Station? Loci. Burrito joint you eat at too much? Loci. Parking lot out front? Loci.

All of these are places that you know by heart, because that’s what your brain does, and all of these are places that you can use. Your house often gets used as an example, but if you really think about it, you already know thousands of places.

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Dan and kiyote thank you very much for responding to my question. I understand that if I worked at it, I could come up with a thousand or even thousands of loci. However there are many more than a couple thousand pieces of information that I want to retain - the contents of hundreds of books for example. I just don’t see how I can come up with hundreds of thousands of loci to use. So I’m wondering if people re-use the same memory palaces or journeys and if so, how do they keep from confusing different items left in the same place?



Dean Vaughn in his book “How to Remember Anything” gives reasons why these loci can be used over without confusion. The subject matter your working on focuses you on that (e.g., if I use 10 loci in a room to remember the 10 Commandments then use that room for the first 10 Amendments to the Constitution, my mind will largely naturally filter out one or the other during recall). Also, after going over the list regularly (as is necessary to remember, Ebbinghaus’s rule) the crutch of loci goes away and the knowledge becomes part of long term memory.

But also you have the example of Sherevsky, in Luria’a “Mind of Mnemonist”. He never forgot anything and his mind naturally used the journey method through his town. From what I could gather he used the same journey over and over.



Dan, thanks for the info. It’s very helpful!


(Josh Cohen) #7

I’m working on the same issue. Here is what I’ve found so far:

When Ben Pridmore memorized 50,000 digits of pi, he said he created 5,550 locations.

I think the only way to create that many loci is to cram a lot of them in small areas.

An alternate way to memorize certain things is to extract information (e.g., main concepts from a book), put them in a mind map, and then link the main points or keywords that you want to remember together into a story.

Location Without a Journey:
Some types of data can be memorized without placing images in full journeys. When Dominic O’Brien memorized the trivia questions, he said he placed the trivia answers in locations, but not in journeys. Check out Quantum Memory Power (audiobook) for his full explanation of how he did it.



I do honestly thing that people underestimate the number of loci they have available to them. I would try this as an exercise:

Note down in a little notebook, or on a piece of paper, all the distinct places you are at in a single day. Not just the big places, but every place.

This includes your home, your car, the drive to work, the coffee shop you got your morning caffeine fix, your work itself, the place you ate lunch at, the parking lot of that place, the store you do your grocery shopping at, the library where you picked up your book at, etc. Each one of these places can become a new loci, and with a little tweaking, they can become multiple loci.

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(Josh Cohen) #9

Great idea…

That reminds me of the video that Yan mentioned about Dr Yip Swee Chooi, who memorized a 1,774 page Chinese-English dictionary using the method of loci:



Thank you all for responding! You’ve convinced me that I may have all the locations that I need and I’ll move on to my next problem, which I’ll post on the names and faces thread - “How to deal with names that don’t have associated audionyms.”



(Josh Cohen) #11

Here is an interesting idea from Michael Corayer’s blog:

It mentions a website called 360° virtual tours.


(Andreas Brekken) #12

Virtual worlds are indeed great for loci.


(Josh Cohen) #13

Do you use video games for creating journeys? I’m looking for some 3-D games that don’t involve combat (because I have a hand injury and can’t push buttons quickly). :slight_smile:


(Andreas Brekken) #14

I use a game called EverQuest 2: because I used to play it. What I do, however, is just walk around the cities there and memorize them. No combat involved. The graphics are really nice and crisp, which makes them memorable to me.


(Josh Cohen) #15

Thanks… Does walking around in Everquest 2 require a monthly subscription?


(Andreas Brekken) #16

No, check the website. They have something called “EQ2 Extended” (EQ2X) which was released a year ago or something. It’s free to play and that’s where I am.


(Josh Cohen) #17

Thanks – exactly what I’m looking for… :slight_smile:



Memory palace’s are as big as the imagination i.e. infinite; It’s how we approach or view the infinite space that usually brings obstacles or limiting vision.

I like to think of the memory palace as a structure or space to house/store the other types of memory techniques.

My daughter for example keeps her palace in her pocket but within her palace contains the entire universe. It’s all a point of view.

You could have just one memory palace, with many doors, each leading to a different journey from where you live. You could create worlds within worlds, rooms within rooms, worlds within objects, rooms within objects. You could have an intricate painting on a wall in the memory palace that acts as a hub source for hundreds of loci. You could have an endless bookcase. There are as many loci as there are objects.

Essentially, there are loads of ideas you can work with but it’s your learning style and what moves you the most that will obviously suite you best.


(Josh Cohen) #19

A memory palace for memory journeys–I like it. :slight_smile:

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This wouldn’t actually work, at least from my experience and from everything I’ve read. For locis to work well they unfortunately seem to have some limitations. They need to not be too similar to one another (you can’t use 20 shelves that all look alike), they can’t be too close to each other and they shouldn’t be too bright/dark because it makes it significantly harder to fill in details.

Rooms within rooms does seem to work though, I’ve read a lot about people using portals to other places. But trying to have a loci every 50cm is a bad idea. I’ve tried it. =P

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