Have you ever heard of Simon Reinhard? He’s a two-time World Memory Champion, European Memory Champion and German Champion. He also holds the Guinness World Record for memorizing 92 digits in 1 minute (Simon, 2020). But how does he do it? In the age of information, memory techniques are your secret weapon!
Also known as mnemonic devices – from the Greek word mnemon, meaning “to remember”- these strategies can be helpful for a person who wants to improve their ability to remember something – even after a concussion. Mnemonic devices are techniques developed thousands of years ago by the ancient Greeks to help them memorize long speeches, and these tricks were later adopted by the Romans who kept so-called memory slaves “graeculi” (little Greeks), and whose purpose it was to memorize all kinds of things (Kuepper-Tetzel, 2020; Psych Central, 2016).
Even though these techniques can be traced back in time, it might surprise you to know that we all use them, even if we don’t know their names. Mnemonic devices are simply ways of memorizing information by making them “stick” in our brain so that we can recall them more easily later (Psych Central, 2016).
But becoming successful in the use of mnemonics depends on two main factors: first, you have to figure out the right technique, and then you need to take the time to practice.
Effective mnemonic devices also follow three main principles (Kuepper-Tetzel, 2020):
- Organize the material you want to learn in a systematic way
- Elaborate on the material at hand
- Use mental imagery
So what are some examples of mnemonic devices commonly used by memory athletes like Reinhard?
Curious to see some of these memory tricks in action?
Check out the TedX Talk with Ricardo Lieuw below to see how he combines some of the techniques we described above to have the audience remember a list of 10 random words!
Writing & Research by: Sahar Allahdini
Last Updated: January 2021