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Learn to learn: creating a ‘memory palace’

You may have seen it being used in BBC series Sherlock and thought it fictitious, but a memory palace really does help with recall

Memory palace

Among the most powerful memory techniques is one that’s been used for thousands of years: the “memory palace”.

Modern research has shown that using this technique changes your brain and helps start improving your memory. So, what is it?  

All you have to do is think of a place you know fairly well, like your home, or the route to school. 


This article is part of a series by Professor Barbara Oakley called Learning How To Learn (L2L). A list of all the chapters will be available at this link from 16 April.


Then take whatever you want to remember and mentally put funny versions of those items in the rooms of your home or on the route as you move through it. The crazier the images, the better!

You can use maps, places in a favourite video game or even parts of your body for your memory palace.

Watch the below video before reading more. 

You can create different “palaces” for different information. And you can revisit a memory palace whenever you want – when you’re standing in line or waiting for a friend.

Revisiting memory palaces strengthens brain links.

Other ways to help you remember are to use rhymes, songs or metaphors, and to take good notes that are written by hand (not type-written). Also, teaching someone else what you are trying to remember helps you to understand it better, too.

This article is part of a series by Professor Barbara Oakley called Learning How To Learn (L2L). A list of all the chapters will be available at this link from 16 April.

Notes by Professor Barbara Oakley and ESIC Business and Marketing School. Videos reproduced with kind permission of the Arizona State University and Professor Barbara Oakley.

For more information, see Learning How to Learn: How to Succeed in School Without Spending All Your Time Studying; A Guide for Kids and Teens.

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