Using Memory Palaces for Challenging Material


I spend much of my spare time studying a range of different topics, and only recently discovered the good old memory palace (believe it or not!).

So far i’ve had some success with it, but at the same time I find it really difficult converting some stuff, and find myself staring at my notes for several hours before I come up with a way to translate my information into a memorable link in my memory palace journey. I hoped to get some perspective from anyone that has experience with memory palaces, and would love to hear how you may deal with the challenge!

I’m currently studying Swedish massage, so for this post i’ll focus on that. First off, I’ll give an example of when I have found success.

For the most part when using memory palace, I find myself replacing parts of sentences with similar words, for example:

To remember one of the techniques used for the massage technique Effleurage, my note is “follow the curves of the body, increasing pressure towards the heart without dragging the skin”. The loci for this is in my bathroom, where a singer I like named Effje De Visser (Effleurage) is sitting on the toilet squeezing a human heart. She’s caressing its curves, then looks up at me and says “it feels like dragon skin.” - Relatively straight forward to convert, as the origin material is comprehensible.

However, my challenge is with more complicated material. For part of the course i’m required to learn anatomy, and this is where i get stuck. I’m finding some of the terminology hard to translate, and therefore I get really stuck!

I’m trying to memorise the bone structure. Naturally, as per the norm, i’ve categorised the bones into their respective types (irregular, sesamoid, vertebral). If we take the irregular bones, i need to put some information in my memory palace that explains the function, the component parts, and terminology.

Bullet points to include:
1| irregular bones are found where extra strength is needed
2| examples include certain bones of the skull, and the vertebra
3| good attachment points for muscles
4| Ethmoid, Palatine, Sphenoid, Temporal, Inferior nasal concha…

The first three points, i can eventually translate (e.g. 1 might be Arnold Swarzeneger doing bicep curls with a huge packet of extra strong mints), but i get stuck when try to lock down the bone types! I’m presented with 3 problems:

1| I really struggle to translate the terminology into something meaningful (or anything at all for that matter!)

2| As there is a long list of terminology, it seems an incredibly laborious process to add some 20+ bones for one section into a memory palace, no? I try to use mnemonic stories, but again, even if i recall the mnemonic i usually forget the words they represent, as they currently somewhat foreign to me.

3| Even if i get this information into my memory palace, This doesn’t help me label bones geographically, and help me point them out on a diagram, for example.

So at the end of it all, what i’d like to know is:

1, How does one go about selecting what information to put into a memory palace?

2, What methods do you use to translate your information and put it into your memory palace?

3, What tips and tricks have you found to be useful: dos and don’ts?

I look forward to hearing some interesting perspectives. Thanks for taking the time to read my post!


Methods used: Whatever works. I’ve only realized after the fact that, in a couple of instances, I’ve been inconsistent in how I code certain information. But that hasn’t turned into a problem. And I figure it’s better to roll with the inconsistencies than to force everything into some neat pattern after the fact.

For tips/tricks, I’d say be open to go with whatever images and approaches (story/journey/memory palace) work in any given situation. For example, for “inferior nasal concha,” I’d picture a conch shell with a giant nose and a sad, inferior look on its face.

To put things in place “geographically,” it may make sense to use a story approach that ties all of the information to a specific order. To help, it may make sense to code information that’s located near each other with a similar object or color or in a specific room (if you go the memory palace route).


Hi @RMBittner, Thanks for your reply.

I like your thinking in terms of coding your info, and I actually try to apply my knowledge of spatial memory when using memory techniques (First categorising and organising my notes, and using cues which indicate a progression into a new category: e.g. for my Basal Cell Layer, I have Basel Brush acting out my bullet points).

I think rolling with the inconstancies is quite a good idea, as i can be guilty of being a perfectionist and getting too caught up, which of course hinders progress (One of the ‘rules’ of creativity is to make progress quickly, refinement comes later). Plus I think this allows my own style to develop naturally, which I can hone over time.

Love the object/Colour coding idea! It all makes sense in regards to the nature of spatial memory. I’ve always been fairly good at organising and categorising things, so now I need to translate that knowledge!

Thanks for your input Bob :slight_smile:

Kind regards