The method of loci is a strategy for memorizing new information. It involves imagining yourself placing pieces of information around a room and then visualizing yourself walking back through to pick the information up. This method is beneficial for speech preparation because it helps you remember your points in order.
The method of loci works by giving your brain new information in order. By imaging yourself placing things around a room then collecting those items in the same order, you train your brain to remember things sequentially.
How To Use the Method of Loci
To use the method of loci, follow these steps:
- First, imagine yourself placing items around a room.
- Then, visualize yourself walking back through the room.
- Finally, pick up each item in the order you set them down.
The items you place around the room are new information you need to remember. Often, people use this method when they need to remember details in a particular order. This process triggers your memory of that information.
So, for instance, if you are trying to memorize a recipe for banana bread, you might imagine placing bananas on the couch, sugar next to the lamp, milk on the piano bench, and so on. Then, in your mind, you’ll go back around the room and pick up the bananas, sugar, and milk in the order you set them down.
You could also imagine setting items at specific landmarks on a nature trail or a neighborhood walk.
How Effective Is It?
The method of loci is a very effective learning method. Several studies have demonstrated a significant improvement in recalling information with its use.
The method of loci is effective in improving memory performance in many age groups, including:
- College students
- Medical students
- Older adult learners
Using a Virtual Environment
Another study tested a variation of the method of loci by showing students a virtual environment that they briefly reviewed. Participants then used locations in that new environment, rather than a more familiar place such as a room in their home, to mentally place the items they needed to remember.
The researchers found that participants using the new virtual environment performed just as well as the control group, who used a very familiar location to mentally place the information they needed to remember.
In College Students
A 2015 study published in Society for the Teaching of Psychology asked undergraduate students to create “memory palaces” based on campus locations to remember a grocery list. The researchers found that participants had improved memory for the serial recalled list. In addition, they increased their use of the method of loci in their daily life, suggesting they found it helped them retain information.
The method of loci is a proven, effective memory strategy. Studies have demonstrated that it can help people of all ages improve their memory and even change the brain’s connectivity patterns.