Total recall using the loci method- The New Indian Express


Express News Service

What goes around comes around. 

The loci method is one such case. Dating back to ancient Greece, it leverages special environments to revive memories and retain information, especially in people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). It is even used to prepare participants of memory contests to enhance their ability to remember diverse information, from faces to digits.

At its core, the method boosts the human brain’s innate ability to associate information with spatial locations. It recalls images more effectively than words or numbers; the term ‘loci’ is the Latin word for ‘places’.

The technique taps into the dual-coding theory, according to which, information is processed, both visually and spatially, to reinforce memory. In a 2012 study published in the Hong Kong Journal of Occupational Therapy, researchers led by Lim MHX investigated the impact of a 10-week cognitive training programme on older people with MCI. The pre- and post-test results revealed significant improvements in memory and other cognitive functions, suggesting the effectiveness of the method.

How to Employ It Focus on a setting with distinct features, such as a street lined with shops, or a room with various surfaces and corners. When confronted with a list of items or topics for a speech, mentally locate each element within this spatial setting—one topic in the corner, another on the desk, and so forth. The trick is to select a familiar environment, such as one’s home or a regular route one travels. Later, when you need to retrieve this information, visualise yourself navigating through the environment, collecting each item from its designated spot.

For example, if you have to deliver a speech in a specific conference room or take a test in a particular classroom, use that setting as the backdrop for your imaginary walk. Before an upcoming test, take advantage of a pre-test class to mentally position your memory triggers around the room. Opt for permanent landmarks to ensure they remain in place for retrieval during subsequent study sessions in different locations.

Benefitting from It
Its versatility spans from grocery lists to intricate theories, making it an invaluable ally for students, professionals and memory enthusiasts alike. Unlike the dull monotony of rote memorisation, this technique invites engagement by igniting one’s imagination and fostering a heightened sense of creativity and cognitive involvement. But, its most extraordinary feature lies in the gift of long-lasting recall.

The spatial associations yield memories that endure—an asset for students gearing up for exams or professionals navigating information-intensive domains. As a bonus, the structured nature of the loci method becomes a stress-busting guide, offering a clear way to alleviate the cognitive load.

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