r30's Transformation Method

Hi, everyone!

I have separated from previously known “substitution method”* a more general and detailed type of linking technique that I call Transformation Method or just TM. Basically the method tells that instead of making two objects interact with each other, we can memorize the second object by letting the first object transform itself into an object, that is similar to the second object. Can be used in memory palaces, but also suitable for just linking two objects.

Different transformations (to memorize wedding dress, chicken eggs and mirror). The last one is chair transformed into mirror-chair.

I posted all the information about TM on my google page https://sites.google.com/site/r30mnemo/.

If you don’t care about all the details you can just read my algorithm for TM. But to understand the terminology I use, read also this.

I am very excited to know, how this method works for you. So examples of your associations or memory palaces, where you use TM, are also very welcome.

EDIT (July 27, 2014):
*substitution method - sometimes we like to substitute an existing object (in you palace) with the object we want to memorize
**I also want to point out that the techniques used in Transformation Method aren’t something entirely new. For example in this wiki page you can find an example of creating a mnemonic image for letter A using visual resemblence. The Method just gives a detailed overview of already used techniques and compresses them all into one method.

From my view there are only two ways to link image A with image B:

  1. by transforming A into B (+using similarities) (Transformation Mehod) OR
  2. letting A interact with B (at my homepage Interaction Method)
    Maybe there is a third way that I have not yet discovered? Discuss it here, and also which of them should be used in which situations, which one you personally use and like more.

It would be helpful if you shared your experience, otherwise I might be advertising stuff that is not effective and discourage stuff that’s actually useful - there are surprisingly many readers at my webpage (more than 10 per/day, but in mnemoworld that’s quite lot).

This is worked out pretty thoroughly, nice job! I have had some success with transformation in the past, it’s a good mnemonic device, but the million dollar question as you know is “when is it better than traditional linking techniques?” Learning the info on your link and being able to apply it like second nature should help with linking all of the time, even if the total method wasn’t followed. Looking forward to reading this page more closely and playing with the ideas when I get the time to practice again soon. Have you been able to apply the algorithm effectively yourself?

Thanks, LociInTheSky for sharing your thoughts!

I certainly use the algorithm when we have two objects that are very similar in shape. For example, I had to remember word “communicate”. First thing to come to my head when thinking about this word was “a phone”. So I visualized a phone and tried to position it somewhere in my bathroom. I noticed that the showerhead and phone handset were very similar in shape. The shower head also has these holes in it, where water comes out, just like phone head has little holes for the sound to come out and for the microphone. So I just let the shower head be the cell-phone.
I didn’t even have to recite the association again, because if I watch the shower head again it’s just perfect for symbolizing the phone handset, and phone instaltly jumps into my head.

I also use it in physics and math. For example I have to deal with electrons in physics in vary many occasions. But I don’t have any base electrons in my memory palaces. Then I perform the actions electron would do with the persons or objects I have in my MP (usually movie scenes). Let’s say we have Jack Sparrow: I let Jack shrink into an icecube (that I have chosen to symbolize electron). Now the icecube has Jack’s face (and sometimes also hands and legs), but I can still also see the blue spots spots of electron. And it’s still cold and behaves like electron. Then I let this Jack-electron perform all the actions the electron would do in the situation I needed to visualize.
When I think visit this MP again and see Jack in his location, it’s pretty easy to remember that Jack transformed into electron. Whether I remember what that Jack-electron did is not so certain.

Hi, again!

The algorithm I mentioned before is effective, but hard to perform and takes practise.

The hardest part is:
3. Let the base object take the shape of the dobe (the one I want to memorize) (by expanding and/or shrinking it)
-Now the dobe’s outer layer is constructed from base’s material. It also has the same color as the base’s surface.

Just try visualizing your mobile phone expaning into raindeer, so that the raindeer eyes are camera glasses, it’s back is glass-screen (and a menu displayed on it), the battery is bent into deer’s belly, it’s legs and tail are usb-cables and its ass is a usb-port.
Pretty difficult, isn’t it? But still very powerful connection between phone and deer.

To make things little bit easier I added an alternative:
*Alternative to task 3: Transform base’s surface layer and color into dobe’s surface layer and color.
(If dobe’s material and color are its most significant features and it has a very common shape, e.g a square.
Though it is easier to perform than original task 3, it only works if looking the transformed
base with dobe’s material you automatically think of dobe, because this material is rare and recognizable (only dobe has it))

Now, if I wanted to memorize mirror by associating it with a wooden chair (let’s say next to my computer table):
1) I could use the old tricks and make a fun story:
My beautiful girlfriend sits on the chair and admires herself on her pocket mirror, but finds out that she has a enormous pimple as big as her head on her lip. She gets furious, hoists the chair above her head and shutters the mirror with the chair.

2) Not so fun story, using my new alternative algorithm.
I visualize the chair being reflective and metallic. When I watch it, I see myself very fat or very thin (like some funny mirrors do).

So, which story wins?
*The old way is definitely the winner of laugh.
*But a mirror-chair hybrid is something we’ve never seen before. And it is so tightly bound with the shape of the chair: when I see the chair again, it is only so little away from seeing the mirror-chair
*But deducing the pocket-mirror is pretty far ahead: first I have to think that my sister is sitting on the chair, then that she had a head-sized pimple and finally I can deduce the shattering of the mirror.

Of course I can reduce the length of the story. I can just visualize a mirror being shattered against the chair. The end. But this is nothing very special, while mirror-chair is unique.

So, my algorithm bases on constructing unique hybrids, that are naturally and tightly bonded with base object (chair), but also with dobe

I am not saying that my algorithm always wins. The new *alternative 3 can rarely be effectively applied, but the older task 3 is harder (takes time and imagination power).

Don’t know if this will help or was already mentioned, but you could just strenghten the image of transformation by adding the action of the first object (telephone, calling) to the second object (reindeer) So after phone transforms into a reindeer, it starts buzzing or ringing, so you put your ear next to the reindeer (or you lift the giant animal to your ear) and answer the call. The ridiculousness makes it impossible to forget. Don’t know if it’d still count as a transformation method, though.

I’d like share my view about the most important thing in mnemonics: how to make a good association (or link or story or whatever you like to call it) ?

In mnemonics we are interented mainly in visual associations, because they are the best (visual senses store much more amount of information in our brains than other senses). It’s easy to link two pictures by combining them into a single picture. It’s what we do all the times: let’s say you are standing in front of your house and you see its front door. When we turn our head to left, the door moves to right and now we see the road moving next to the house. And a synapse (binding of the ends of two neurons [brain cells]) is made between the neurons in our hipocampus that represent the door and the road respectively.
Now comes the question: will we also remember after a week that the road is left from the door? It depends on two factors:
1. How many door-neurons made a synapse with the road-neurons.
A week before if we had turned our attention on some details like the color of the door and its components like the keyhole and the color of the road and that the next-house neighbour was walking on it at the same time, then more synapses are made.
2. How strong the synapses are after the passing of the week.
If we turned our head from the door to the road every day, the synapses would become stronger with each day.

So if we turn our attention to specific details and revise, the probability to recall the location and the appearance of the road when thinking of the door increases rapidly. This has become a good association.

Some time ago I had a conversation with Bateman in his topic Video Game Memory Palaces

Transformation method bases entirely on similarities (see my previous comment, where I linked phone with raindeer and chair with mirror). It’s due to the fact that our brain uses similarities to categorize every bit of information we experience : it stores the similar information in adjacent brain parts, whereas not similar information is stored in completely different areas of the brain.

Have you ever tryied to create a face for an imaginary person (for example when reading a book where that person occurs)? For me, it’s almost impossible to come up with original face.
For example when I add a long brown beard and hair and the pirate hat then instantly captain Barbossa (from Pirates of The Caribbean) takes place for the rest of the face, because he also has brown beard and a piriate hat. Our brain had already linked Barbossa with these properties.
Or even better example: when you confuse two people, because they are similar. For example when using PAO then you can’t have many similar persons/actions/objects in it. Otherwise when recalling a deck of cards you don’t remember was it a Fred or George (twins from Harry Potter) backfucking a hedgehog in this loci (in “Moonwalking with Einstein” there was a historical person who suggested using different monsters for each Person or Object, that way you avoid confusing the persons, because the creatures are very different in appearence).

Now we see that it is natural for our thought to move from the first object to an object that is similar to it. Transformation Method uses this fact to link similar objects to each other. But if the similarity doesn’t exist, one can be created:
In my mirror&chair example our brain classifies entirely new object: a mirror-chair. It is very similar to the old chair and when seeing the chair the mirror-chair instantly jumps into our head, just you confused two similar people before. Or in the raindeer&phone example you confuse raindeer-phone with the old phone, because they both have the same surface layer.
When using method of loci the association is even more strengthened, because the mirror-chair and deer-phone is subconsciously linked to their surroundings (of their loci). Transformation Method also benefits from its inside placement and process of transformation.

So Michael Jordan using a granade as a basketball would be a better link than Jordan playing football with a chainsaw, because it’s natural for our attention to focus on the thing on Jordan’s hand (because he’s a basketball player) and the shape of the basketball already narrows it down to something that is round (e.g. a granade). Especially if the granade does something that ball can do, e.g. expands and explodes in Jordan hand just like an overpressured ball can do.

I added an image to my google page, that demonstrates different linking techniques. Transformation Method is one of them.

My take on transformation for the memory athlete:

For cards, numbers, binary etc., we link the same 100 or 1000 objects/items as pairs or triplets
We do this over and over again every time we practice and we have to do it very fast
So most of the time a simple interaction should be adequate

For example:
713 645 is Catamaran with Janelle on top steering vs
645 713 is Catamaran with Janelle swimming next to it

For those items that are hard to link or hard to remember, transformation is a great alternative

I would postulate that for memory sports, transformation might be best utilized for Historical Dates
The reason is we need to link an item we are familiar with (100-1000) with items that we might not be as familiar with (whatever item is in the historic description)
Since we have never had those two items ever interact

For example
1713 Posters placed all over

If you placed a poster on the Catamaran, later it would be confusing
Was it another item? (from one of the other dates)

but if you used transformation:
Catamaran with its sail transformed into a giant poster of a sports star or woman in a bikini etc.

Awesome article thanks a bunch (926)

I want to point out that actually we are (subconsciously) using TM when we are theming different things:

  1. Adding themes in the memory palace
    You can reuse your palaces by adding different theme to the palace each time you reuse it. There could be an ocean theme, yellow-flower theme, mushroom theme, etc. What you are actually doing is transforming loci: you usually don’t change their shape, but you add a new color and material to their surface layer.
    (mirror-chair example) (or more exactly alternative 3.2 from my algorithm)

  2. Theming your peg list
    I have 00-99 peg list which I reuse constantly (in my memory palaces), often when reuse them I add a new theme for the pegs. I transform them just like loci in the example above. For example, I attach a peg for each episode of Mentalist, and this set of peg has fly amanita (a mushroom) theme. Now I can recall the episodes numerically (e.g. What was the 99th episode? My 99 peg - butterfly. Now I see a red white-dotted botterfly which has soft white fungi body. I have used this butterfly only once - this was in episode where P.Jane released it into the house of fake kidnapper, he ate it and got food poisoning).

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