What Are They & How Do They Work? We all understand the value of good memory. Being able to rely on your ability to remember a lot of things leads to a much easier life. Whatever way you look at it, however, having all the information you’ve accumulated ready to use at a moment’s notice can help you out in tricky situations.
No more moments like “Oh, I forgot the alarm code” or “I don’t remember what I needed to buy, and I’m already at the store.” It seems like a dream, doesn’t it? Not only that but being sure you’ll be able to memorize new things or more complicated ones is definitely a boost to your self-appreciation.
This is why mnemonic techniques are gaining popularity. They help you study new things as well as recall and affirm old information. In this article series, we take a more detailed look into what mnemonics are and their different types.
Mnemonics are any and all strategies used to better store and remember information through specific techniques. They are essentially shortcuts of encoded information that are easier for the brain to use than the original versions. Mnemonics can come in different forms and don’t follow any particular rules.
Generally speaking however, they take advantage of our mind’s ability to remember specific types of information. For instance, we are much more likely to remember something that sounds funny or peculiar than just a list of words. This is the principle on which most mnemonics rely.
Origin Of The Word
The roots of the word are Greek – something which is expected considering that probably the first people to use mnemonics were the ancient Greek philosophers and teachers.
The word means “of memory” and is tightly connected to the Greek goddess of remembrance, Mnemosyne. She is most famous for being the mother of the Nine Muses, which makes a pretty cool connection between talent and memorization!
Although we cannot pinpoint the exact moment in which mnemonics were first used, we can definitely say it was in Greece. Plato, Aristotle, and later Cicero were some of the first people who believed this is a form of art and one which could help a lot of people.
They sure were right.
The method that was used both there and in the Roman empire for a long time was that of imaginary cities and houses, each of which held a different piece of information (similar to how you fill your home with furniture).
Each item was given a symbolic associative meaning, which made it easier to remember. The method itself is called the Loci method, and the places imagined were often described as mind palaces. It is still widely used to this day.
Later (in the 13th century), the first books about mnemonic techniques were published. Some new methods were introduced between that time and the following three centuries, but the most notable one was in 1648 A German scientist shared a technique that he designed – he used consonants to substitute figures. This was revolutionary because it was the first time someone could include numbers in mnemonics. Two hundred years later, an entire alphabet was designed based on this technique.
Needless to say, many people embarked on a memory-training journey when they learned about this fascinating concept.
Here are some of the most famous mnemonists!
He was the first one to coin the term “art of memory,” which refers to mnemonic techniques he used. He lived in the Roman empire and even wrote down the essence of his preferred methods in one of his works.
Lambert Schenkel lived in the 16th century and was deemed a sorcerer by the University of Louvain because of his memory skills. He was using mnemonic techniques he later described in his book. After the public read his explanation, he was no longer seen as a conduit of magic and kept on improving his skills.
Thirdly, Dominic O’Brien is the person who currently holds the record for the biggest random sequence memorized. In 2002 he committed to memorizing 2808 (or 54 packs) of playing cards after only seeing each card once. Most people can’t believe he actually managed to repeat the entire sequence to this day.
We think we can all agree that mnemonics are pretty cool.People have managed to do some incredible things thanks to the techniques used in this field. In part two of this article series, we outline the most common techniques and give some examples in order to help you understand them better.
We are sure you will be able to find the right ones for you and start using them to make your life easier in one way or another!
See you in part two!