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Learn the US Presidents- with a memory walk

The method of loci is a famous memory technique that exploits our incredible spatial memory, borrowing its clarity and organization to help you learn totally unrelated information- sequences of ideas, objects or anything else.

The best way to introduce yourself to this amazing spatial memory technique is to try it out in a real space. This is what I like to call a “Memory Walk”. I used to do these the whole time around the time I had no friends and wanted to get some.

Memory Walk US presidents from Jeremy Riggall on Vimeo.

Here’s a little video of me teaching a bunch of people who’d never used spatial memory techniques the sequence of the 44 presidents of the USA (many of whom they’d not heard of) in only 90 or so minutes by taking them on a walk round Trafalgar square and nearby zones. It’s 18 minutes long, but you’ll have a fair chance of learning the presidents if you watch it three times.

Normally this technique is conducted in the imagination. From ancient times, people interested in learning large amounts of information in sequence (lists, poems, historical events) would imagine themselves going on long walks through their homes and cities, and as they did so they’d project in their imagination images that stood in for the words or objects whose sequence they were trying to remember. When it came to recall, all they had to do was re-trace the route and as they did so, and there they’d see the images they left on the way, still preserved in perfect sequence.

By watching the video, you can get a pretty good idea of how it works. Then, hopefully, you can have a go at doing one yourself.

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