Memory Improvement: Mnemonics, Tools, or Books on the Topic?

by Capla 5y21st Nov 201429 comments


I want a perfect eidetic memory.

Unfortunately, such things don't exist, but that's not stopping me from getting as close as possible. It seems as if the popular solutions are spaced repetition and memory palaces. So let's talk about those.

Memory Palaces: Do they work? If so what's the best resource (book, website etc.) for learning and mastering the technique? Is it any good for memorizing anything other than lists of things (which I find I almost never have to do)?

Spaced Repetition: What software do you use? Why that one? What sort of cards do you put in?

It seems to me that memory programs and mnemonic techniques assist one of three parts of the problem of memory: memorizing, recalling, and not forgetting.

"Not forgetting" is the long term problem of memory. Spaced repetition seems to solve the problem of "not forgetting." You feed the information you want to remember into your program, review frequently, and you won't forget that information.

Memory Palaces seem to deal with the "memorizing" part of the problem. When faced with new information that you want to be able to recall, you put it in a memory palace, vividly emphasized so as to be affective and memorable. This is good for short term encoding of information that you know you want to keep. You might put it into your spaced repetition program latter, but you just want to not forget it until then.

The last part is the problem of "recalling." Both of the previous facets of the problem of memory had a distinct advantage: you knew the information that you wanted to remember in advance. However, we frequently find ourselves in situations in which we need/want  to remember something that we know (or perhaps we don't) we encountered, but didn't consider particularly important at the time.  Under this heading falls the situation of making connections when learning or being reminded of old information by new information: when you learn y, you have the thought "hey, isn't that just like x?" This is the facet of the memory problem that I am most interested in, but I know of scarcely anything that can reliably improve ease of recall of information in general. Do you know of anything?

I'm looking for recommendations: books on memory, specific mnemonics, or practices that are known to improve recall, or anything else that might help with any of the three parts of the problem.