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Introduction - Basic techniques - Books - Software - Training and Memory Courses - Web Sites


You may wonder why it is necessary to learn memory techniques when there is an abundance of available tools to help you remember: diary systems, Palm Pilots, pocket notebooks, and laptop computers.

These can certainly assist in your daily routine, but learning some basic memory techniques will greatly boost your brain power and quality of life!

For example, can you remember people's names when you recognise them? Can you name capital cities for the countries of the world, or name the states of your country? How about naming some of the world leaders, or names within your organisation or school? What day of the week is Christmas next year -- or your birthday?

Our brain is more powerful and more important than any computer in existence. Spend some time learning how the brain remembers, some memory techniques and develop the habit of memorising useful material.

There is no learning without memory! How can you be creative if you can't recall information from your memory? Harry Lorayne says there are really only three fundamental learning skills:

  1. Locating the information you need.
  2. Remembering the informaton you locate.
  3. Understanding and organizing the information you've located and remembered so you can apply it.

The skills developed in memory are complementary to the skills of Creative Thinking.

The secret of a great memory is Original Awareness. When people say they forgot something, they usually mean they never remembered it in the first place. Awareness means paying attention and exploring different aspects of the subject matter.

Memory works by association. In order for you to remember any new thing, it must be associated with something you already know or remember. As you learn and remember more, you give your memory more "hooks" to add further associations. By doing this, you will rapidly become a genius!

Basic Techniques

Link System

The Link system of memory is designed to enable you to remember any number of things in sequence. Each pair of items is associated in some way in a vivid mental picture that you will remember. Harry Lorayne recommends four simple ways to make your association memorable: See the items out of proportion, exaggerate the number of items, put some action into the picture and substitute one item instead of the other. I have an example of how I remembered the sequence of the signs of the horoscope.

Peg System

The Peg system of memory is designed to enable you to remember a number of things when the position is important. The numbers 1 to 10 can be remembered as a list of rhyming words to use as peg words, and the items to be remembered are associated with the peg words. I have a list of peg words for the alphabet that can be used for longer lists.

Phonetic System for Numbers

This is a system for converting numbers to consonants, giving meaning to numbers and making them easy to remember. I am very excited about this system, and I've memorised a list of 100 peg words (the numbers 0 to 100). The phonetic system can be used to memorise telephone numbers, dates, PIN codes, credit card numbers, your passport number -- in fact, any number can be converted into a meaningful word.

For example, I remembered my access code to an office by imagining a moccasin sitting on top of the number pad. Read the page on the phonetic system to see how easy this system is to use, and the meaning of the "moccasin". The phonetic system can be used to work out the day of the week for a whole year by just remembering four words. How can this be done?


I first learnt about the mechanisms of memory in Peter Russell's "The Brain Book".

Tony Buzan has written several books on memory:

Use your Memory (1984) Starts off with a history of memory, the principles behind a powerful memory, the systems described above, some practical examples of memorising dates, and finishing off with a description of mind maps and their usefulness for remembering - Browse/Buy from Amazon Books

Master your Memory (1988) This is a specialist book that builds on the phonetic system for rememberng numbers. The basic list of 100 peg words is extended by a factor of 100 to effectively create 10,000 peg words where you can store reference informaton. The book has chapters of facts on artists, composers, writers, science and language that can be encoded into the "Self-Enhancing Master Memory Matrix" - Browse/Buy from Amazon Books.

My favourite author on memory techniques is Harry Lorayne who clearly explains the memory systems, provides lots of examples for practice and shows how to apply the systems. The following two books are essential reading for your memory development:

Super Memory - Super Student - How to Raise your grades in 30 days - Harry Lorayne (1990) - memort techniques are demonstrated from studying any academic subject, from chemistry to law to medicine to music to foreign and English vocabularies - Browse/Buy from Amazon Books.

The Memory Book - Remember anything the first time you see, read or hear it - Harry Lorayne and Jerry Lucas (1974) - Practical advice for memorising speeches, vocabulary, names and faces, long-digit numbers, playing cards, weekly appointments, days of the week and historical dates - Browse/Buy from Amazon Books.

For a more detailed analysis of how memory works as well as reviewing the various popular memory systems, I recommend Kenneth Higbee's book Your Memory published in 1988. The book describes and dispels ten myths about memory, describes short-term and long-term memory, how memory works, basic principles of memory (meaningfulness, visualisation, repetition), strategies for effective learning, mnemonics, phonetic system and how to remember faces. Browse/Buy from Amazon Books.


The obvious software to use is actually wetware - your Brain! But seriously, there are some programs that can help you with your memory skills.

Total Recall is a PC-based learning program that teaches the various memory systems. It promises to help remember names and faces, learn foreign languages, remember numbers, jokes, stories, playing cards, speeches and your ideas. Visit the Total Recall web site.

2Know is an interactive phonetic dictionary to help you choose substitute words for numbers. The program is "postcard"-ware and a very useful aid. For example, I can convert the phone number of a local music shop (Dicksons) 94192144 to the words upright piano thrower (this is explained on the phonetic system page). Visit the 2Know Web site or the Pseudonume web site to download the software.

Training and Memory Courses

Courses are run around the world in developing memory skills. Some of these courses may promise instant results and "magical" techniques. Learning memory skills makes remembering more efficient and effective, and you will need to work at remembering things. Beware of grand claims.

Web sites

The MindTools web site has a great listing of tools for improving your memory with examples of learning foreign languages, names and numbers.

Tony Buzan's web site focuses mainly on Mind Maps but you can order books and other products.

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