BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page was last updated in July 2006We've left it here for reference.More information


Accessibility help
Text only
BBC Homepage
BBC Radio


Contact Us

Like this page?
Send it to a friend!

 

Place it!

Location, location, location

One kind of visualisation technique is also called the 'method of loci' or the 'Roman Room' method. It's a very good way of remembering a sequence of related information such as a list of names.

Use a mental image of a place you know well - such as your home - and take a mental walk through the rooms in a set order. Then, put the names from your list one by one into the rooms.

Suppose you want to remember the names of your friend's children in order of age. Visualise Harry the eldest in your front room, then Sally the second in the back room. Molly the third is in the kitchen ... and so on.

To recall the names later you repeat the mental walk. Loci seems a strange way of remembering but with practice it is very successful.

Need convincing? Try this: ask someone to read out a list of ten random words slowly but steadily and only once. About one word per second should be fine. Now, don't use any specific method - just try to recall the words in order a few minutes later.

Try it again using the loci method. Visualise your home and all the rooms. Move between the rooms and find a starting point. Now when your friend reads the list of words again, try to create visual images of the words associated with one of the locations. It'll take a bit of practice but keep trying and you should improve each time.

YOUR OPINION

Does method of loci work for you? Let us know what you think.

Submit a comment

Place it!

How useful is this tip?

  1. Useful
    (72.8%)
  2. Not very useful
    (27.2%)

Total votes: 81

This is not a representative poll and the figures do not purport to represent public opinion as a whole on this issue

YOUR COMMENT

Mike Palmer
For those having difficulty with only a small number of rooms etc. Make up a few more fantasy rooms and don't just put the things you want to remember in the rooms all alone - associate them with things in the room like furniture etc - and stick a few memories on the ceilings/windows/walls/ chandeliers etc. there are endless possibilities. oh and don't forget the fridge - a good place to store those things you need in the longer term!

Marc
This method has already been used by some famous politicans who were able to make a speach without any notes. This is also the main principle of the 'Art of Memory', which is from antiquity. It requires many efforts, and in my opinion it is useful to remember long speeches or things of that sort.

Emily
Very useful if you learn visually. I don't use this method in particular but I did use a "peg" method that got me to picture certain words with words that rhymed with numbers. For example if you want to remember a list of words with 'cat' being the first word, you take the word and give it a number, in this case the number one, then take a word that rhymes with that number (e.g. sun) and construct an image with the cat and the sun, for instance imagine the cat burning in the sun. Now whenever you think of the number one you can mentally 'see' the cat burning in the sun and recall the word 'cat'. You repeat the procedure for the rest of the list of words. Skeptical? It doesn't work for everyone but some people find it very useful. I used it to learn my french environment vocabulary, whenever I think of the number 'one' I think of a glass drum which of course coincides with the phrase: "recyler le verre" (recycle glass). I won't ever forget it!

Claire
Sounds to me like more time and effort than it's worth

Janet
Sounds o.k. if you have lots of rooms. If you live in a flat with two rooms not so useful. The rich will obviously benefit from this method.

Lynn Henry
Yes, very good it worked

George
Now that, I like!

M.C.
No Sorry.

Sue D.
I've tried this and find it totally useless for me!

Tracy
This sounds like a good technique, but seeing as I live in a studio flat, I will have to use another place! Will definately be giving it a go though...

June
Haven't tried this but will give it a go and see if I'm successful.

Lisa
On first reading it seems difficult but I will give it a go next time I need to remember a list of things.

Simon James (Grockle)
This certainly sounds one to practice. Find me a friend. ha

Ian
I feel this could work. However, it requires great discipline something I lack!

Susan
Very impressive result! Some of the other techniques I already unknowingly use such as chunking.This one will be equally useful. Thank you

Mikey
I have a similar technique, but its not rooms it's colours. A long time ago I learnt the electrical coding on resistors. It goes black=1, brown=2, red=3, orange=4 etc. What I do is visualise each colour in turn followed by the thing I'm trying to remember, e.g. Black is Kofi, brown is Asma, red is Bryan, orange is David Dickenson. So I think I will now try the rooms but use the colour of the door to match my known sequence.

Mandy Winter
a bit long winded, no problem with ages and I can visualise most things so wouldn't use this.

Sue
I will have to try this one

c.s.islam
please may I add following: on the other day I tried to remember my friends name fro the office. I could not! Then I went back and tried to remember my friends from school. I failed again. I am 67 years old. Then i tried to remember my other friends from recent time. Thankfully I had some success! Then I divided my time with sets eg recent time and subsets eg months and year within recent time . aaaaam Magic I remember much more! Then I went back my pre retirement years say firs five years and sub set. Magic it worked Then gradually i covered whole of my working life and beyond youth and child hood. I am very pleased to say I remembered more! I feel this technique may work for many c.s.islam

Louise
I quite often use this method when shopping, I'm mentally going through my cupboards and fridge - it helps that I'm quite pedantic in where I keep things ie always in the same place, so the loci prompt tells me what should be there.

steve
The technique works, but it's a bit hit and miss for me. I think it is best to imagine a journey with a definate start and end destiantion (like a trip to your local shops). If there is any likeleyhood you can take a different route in your mind (like looking around the house in a different order) you will mess up the list. Which room is number one, and which is number 2? Another problem is skipping a location - it like meaning to look in a certain shop window, but only remembering when you've been past it! When you do recall a location, the instant recall of the object at that location is almost spooky. I wish I could remember to try this technique more often

Pam
Good tip, I use it frequently and it always works

Liam
I have not got 10 rooms in my house. I find that there too many negative words and phrases in the examples e.g.a strange way,make a mistake in the first place and you are likely to repeat it--it could easily be that when I reach the point I will it and therefore not repeat the mistake. The tips are good and it is interesting to see the results.

Joy
Wonderful series. Find location works well. Out shopping - fill the car to overflowng - visually- with what you want to remember - having of course left the shopping list behind WHERE ??

Claire
This is the only memory aid in this list that I haven't ever heard of before, but it sounds like it should be quite effective.

Diana
Yes excellent; as a child I leaned all the masculine french nouns ending in 'e'by associating them with the contents of my garage at home!!!

Peter
On my first try, I once remembered 400 words. 2 hours later when I reached the last word, I could recall all of them in order. But I could never have done it using this technique. Instead of using just using rooms and placing objects into it, one will find it more effective to use imaginary scenery and in it create tall tales based on the meaning of the words. It is really no different than day dreaming. In fact, I think this technique would even suit auditory oriented people by remembering what the story says instead of how it looks like. The main skill is being creative and being quick about it.

Peggy
Works brilliantly - if you need to remember list of facts. Had one severely dyslexic pupil, who could never remember material for school tests, but was crazy about horses and worked in a stables. She learnt this method but using the various stables, instead of rooms in her house. It worked really well.

Marc
Many years ago (almost 20) there was a QED program that Paul Daniels hosted, anyway they showed 10 items and told you how to remember them. To this day I can remember the 10 objects and the order. I can assign numbers to these objects because I know the order and i can put these objects in "each room" when I want to remember a number. Who else remembers the objects?? I'll start you off: Lamp, Strawberry, Envelope...

Vicky
I used this technique a great deal during my exams after reading about it in a book. It still is really helpful. Not quite so helpful is my ability to list the ten random items that the book used as an example in the same correct order!

Might Mike
Wow! I have been using this technique for years and I sort of worked it out for myself. It's good to have confirmation that I am not alone.

marie
This is an excellent memory tool, I found I could use rooms in my house to remember numerous lists for exams,it worked so well I passed with distinction. Its very easy to use.Give it a go.

Muriel
This doesn't work for me. I think that may be beacuse I'm predominantly an auditory rather than a visual learner.

Cat
This definitely works. I have used it for shopping lists in the past. The problem is it takes a little time and concentration - usually it seems easier to write thngs down. Associating other senses can also help.

penfold
A good technique! Another one I use when learning long lists of facts is to make up an unrelated physical action to go with the name/ number. eg.To recall "Erikson- theory of identity" I squeeze my little finger and then the name comes to mind.

Nicola B
I find this technique extremely useful for word lists containing nouns or objects. I would pair two object words and picture the imagine in different rooms of my house. However, I do think this technique is more difficult when remembering words related to feelings and emotions. But definitely my first choice of memory techniques, very effective.

shanaz ahmed
i have heard of this technique but i have not practised it. i shall endeavour to use it from now on.

brunnette-1
firts i thought loci was something to do with maths second this method just confuses me and wot if to have the same name should they be in the same room?

kim
sounds difficult and complicated but definatly worth a try!

margaret
Worth trying. I shall have to write it down to remember to do it

John
Tried this and didn't work. Could'nt remember what the object was or where it i'd put it. Partner annoyed because I accused her of moving whatever it was.

hipmummie
When I was at Uni there was a course given to new students on how to study and this was one of their tips. They suggested using your street but it didn't work then and it doesn't work for me now.

Ljn
Yes, this can work

Alice
I've tried this before and I found it useless. I think it must depend on how good a visual memory you have to start with - I'm much better at something abstract than something concrete eg patterns but not pictures.

P
I find that loci works excellently before going shopping in the supermarket. I visualise walking through the store, plus the items on display. I then know exactly what is needed on the grocery list. The only problem occurs when the store decide to spoil things by re arranging everything. I just have to re memorise the new lay out. I believe the ancient Greeks used this method. Not in the Supermarket!

Charles
Very interesting, never heard of this, will try it.

Jess
I have found this technique extremely useful for remembering unrelated items, sounds odd but I have also found that my rooms seem to get cluttered with items that are hard to clean away.

Sandro
This is a good method. I have read that this method was very well known by actors,using figures carved in theatrs to help them to remember long poems.

anon
I have been told many times by many people that this method works; even from remembering record-breakers and the like. But it just doesn't work for me. It just makes things worst, as there's just another thing to remember.

Sue
My sister uses this method; she taught me when I was little as I was constantly astonished at her ability to remember apparently unrelated trivia - it is an interesting technique to practise as well which means it's more likely to be useful than some of the others. However I don't think you need so many rooms as all that - you can do it with cupboards and desk tops as well - each memorable thing becomes a tin of beans ... or that 'to do' list ... or something. No, this is a genuinely useful tip.

Hilly
What happens when you have done twenty or thirty different lists, all placed around your house? I prefer the method of linking the first and second items in a list by making a visual image of them together, then leading into an image involving the second and third item and so on. For example, to remember "address, beach, evening, eye, town", I imagine my address written in the sand on a beach, then an evening beach scene with the moon in the sky, then the moon becoming a large eye, followed by the eye turning toward a town. It works best if you make your own images though.

Angela
People with small houses could use items of furniture and put each thing/person you want to remember on an individual item as you look round your room.

Tricky
Sounds like a useful technique though I will have to use the garden, halls and landing to achieve a decent list size - I'll try it.

Tim
Great for remembering lists of one item. We have a studio flat in London.

Jan
So what do you do when you have 8 rooms and 15 nephews & nieces. I should really try this, but it seems as though there is even more to remember is you have to remembers names, AND rooms AND the order you walk around! By the way, does anyone know how to remember all these various memory aids? It's a bit like the time when I bought a supplement that was supposed to aid memory. I never found out whether it wouuld work becuase I always forgot to take it!

Jane
I haven't got ten rooms in my house!!How do you do that in a two roomed flat. I agree with Trevor and in my house everyone squats the kitchen!

Patricia
I use parts of the body e.g. nose, ears, arm, hand, thigh, shin, foot and place things on them!! The visual image makes me laugh - hanging shopping on my ear!!

Sandra
I've tried this and it didn't work at all for me.

Chester Graham
The Palace of Memory was standard mnemonic practice in the Ancient Western World. Young children enjoy reciting long lists of words and numbers. The Palace of Memory and Ancient Western World finger calculation could be taught to young children, rather than whatever it was that I had to learn at school.

Trevor
This one hurts my brain ...

Joan
The seven rooms in my home have no particular order; even in walking round I would have to backtrack; so I could not assign any object or person to any room. If your home has ten rooms - lucky you!

Mina
I think it's a quite unique method. I usually remember things with imagination in mind. so, I will try this when I need to remeber a group of people.

Shefali
What an interesting technique to remember, it seems like a useful one, I should keep this one in mind. ;)

les
A wonderful method to remember a seemingly random list.

Name:

Comment:

The BBC may edit your comments before publishing. Comments will usually appear within one working day.



About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy