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The Journey Method

 

Techniques > Memory methods > The Journey Method

Usage | Description | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Usage

Use to remember a list or sequence of items or activities.

Description

The basic principle of the journey method is to imagine a journey and place items you want to remember along the way.

Choose a route with which you are very familiar and which has a number of landmarks along the way. Then imagine the things you want to remember at each those locations, associating one item at each location. Make the pictures vivid, ridiculous and so easy to remember.

Ideally, the number of major landmarks will be the same or slightly more than the things to remember.

Beware of making the route too long so it becomes difficult to remember all the landmarks along the way.

Example

I want to remember to buy a tin of beans, some beef and a pencil.

I choose the walk from my house to a local park where I often take the dog. It goes past a church, a school, some shops and several other distinct places.

I imagine a huge tin of beans outside the church, a herd of cows charging out of the school and children in the playground of the school firing pencils from bows at each other (like arrows).

I also use this method to remember all the kings and queens of England, placing them at towns along a long journey I often make.

Discussion

Most of us are good at imagining the world in three-dimensional pictures and evolution has taught us to remember key journeys in particular. This method plays to this skill, adding items along the way. As we mentally travel along the route, the places we remember are now linked to the items we want to remember.

There are a number of variants on this method, for example using a single street and placing things at each numbered house. You can also use imaginary journey, for example touring the cities of the world. The only criterion is that it must work for you.

Legge et al (2012) found that you can use a known real context or an imagined context for the journey, with equal effect.

The journey method is also called the travelling method, the route method, the memory palace, the method of loci or the location method.

See also

Associating

 

Legge, E., Madan, C., Ng, E., and Caplan, J. (2012). Building a memory palace in minutes: Equivalent memory performance using virtual versus conventional environments with the Method of Loci. Acta Psychologica, 141 (3), 380-390

 

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