Issue 41 Memory

By WO Team

A walk to remember – memory lane?


Mnemonics is a technique for improving memory advocated by Simonides, a Greek poet who lived around 500 BC. He devised the technique following a tragic accident.

The poet was called out of a building during dinner, and then the roof collapsed and crushed all the guests beyond recognition. Simonides visualized their seating location to help identify the dead.

From this experience, he realized that sight left the greatest impression on the mind. He started to improve his memory by visualizing things he wanted to remember, and placing them in sequence at specific locations along a mental “walk”.

To recall, he would take a “walk” to retrieve the items. This method became popular in ancient Greece and Rome and is still being used today.

A study found that out of 10 individuals with competition-proven superior memory, 9 use this technique of the “walk”.

Furthermore, brain imaging shows that superior memory does not seem to require exceptional brain structure.


Yates, F (1966) The Art of Memory. The University of Chicago

Press, Chicago, USA

Maguire, E A et al (2003) Routes to remembering: the brains behind superior memory. Nature neuroscience 6: 90 - 95