Mnemonic Devices: The Art of Improving Memory


Do you forget things easily? Try these mnemonic devices.

The deeper we process information, the better we will remember it. It’s as simple as that. Luckily, there is a way to improve our memory, but it takes effortful and intentional processing. This means, if we want to improve our memory, we must practice.

It is possible to improve our memory by the use of so-called mnemonic devices. Mnemonic devices help us (re)organize information into meaningful pieces that are easier to remember.

The devices can help us encode information more effectively, and for this reason, they can help us retrieve information from the long-term memory more easily. So, the better we encode information, the better we retrieve it.

A list of mnemonic devices

  • Hierarchies: We can use a logical hieracy to enhance our understanding of how information is related
  • Chunking: We can organize small pieces of information into larger, more meaningful pieces
  • Visual imagery: We can imagine a hierarchy as it has a visual property that can be used to organize information
  • Method of loci: We can associate information with mental images of physical locations
  • Acronyms: We can combine letters. For example, red, green, blue, pink and brown become RGB-PB)
  • Rhymes: We can use rhymes to activate phenological (i.e., sounds) as well as semantic (i.e., meanings) encoding
  • Dual coding: We can make use of more informational modalities. For example, we can use both verbal and visual information to increase our understanding

Sherlock Holmes’ incredible memory is an illustration of how much people can improve their memory. Sherlock uses a so-called memory palace, which is the method of loci as described above. Click here to see an illustration of how to build up a memory palace.

Mnemonics can be used in a combination, which enhances the encoding of information even more. I recommend that you read my other article “8 Principles to Improve Your Memory” if you want more practical or concrete advice for improving your memory.

Image: runran