The importance of organizing in memory training

The brain and memory circuit has an amazing cleaning agent.  This cleaning agent also called the hippocampus keeps our memory working efficiently.  This fact is both a good thing and a bad thing for students and people all over the world.  Memories are structured into systems called neural networks consisting of trillions of synaptic connections.  Like any other network in the world and nature, these can either be orderly or highly chaotic.  The hippocampus tends to love orderly memories and neural networks.

This means that if the memories you are creating are disorganized and chaotic, they aren’t going to stay around for long.  I always thought I had one of the world’s worst memories.  And furthermore I would always wonder why other people had such an easy time memorizing new information.  I didn’t realize that it wasn’t my fault, but I also didn’t realize that I also always have had the ability to reorganize my thoughts and memories.  Organization is one of the key principles of memory training, and if you want to accelerate your learning it’s something you should try to do.

There are many ways you can reorganize your memories.  I will link some potential resources for you to use at the end of this blog post.  One way that we are going to be talking about here in today’s video and blog post is called the memory palace.  This is an ancient technique that has been around for the longest time.  However the technique has been largely forgotten or seldom used by the modern world.

The amazing power of the memory palace

To understand why the memory palace is so effective, let’s do a quick thought exercise.  We want to think of an information type or memory that’s already highly organized.  So to find this type of memory, I want to think back to the most recent buildings you have been in or are in.  See if you can navigate these structures in your mind and follow the paths that are built into the structure or are naturally in the world.  What I’m getting at there is the navigational aspect of your geospatial memory is the most organized type of information that you can utilize.

The memory palace is an advanced memory technique that builds upon many other techniques.  The idea is that you create a set number of stations along your journey through a building or location.  I like to choose vivid locations within rooms, or landmarks along a path within a park for example.  These are easy to find, and they don’t take much conscious effort to remember where they are.  If you have to struggle to find the specific location of your information, you’re going to have more trouble than you need.

Then you can incorporate these locations into your memory encoding.  You will do this by visualizing and associating new information into the stations you create along the journey.  For example if I want to remember the german word for zero ‘null’ I can do the following.  First I create a visualization for the world null.  Null reminds me of zero so I imagine a black hole sucking everything in.  Now I incorporate that into my memory palace station, so for this I just use my desk.  I imagine the black hole on my desk sucking everything into it, all my papers and office supplies. Next I can encode more information into the other stations, and next time I want to remember the data, I just need to walk along the journey in my mind.

Art of memory – How to build a memory palace

Psychology Today – Organizing your memory