Memory palaces are most effective when combined with other rigorous study techniques. As medical students, we are constantly striving to improve how we learn, both by polishing our memory palace technique and by exploring other effective practices.
Interleaved practice is great for keeping things interesting and making sure you can do a quick mental jump to the relevant locus. Research has shown that training this way can improve learners' problem solving abilities.
You might consider making an active effort to erase "ghost images"--images on loci you want to reuse. I never actively clean palaces, whether for memory sports or learning projects. Here's why.
Standalone mnemonics are also a relatively simpler yet still effective way for, say, an absolute beginner to pick up new foreign language vocab. When it comes to carefully learning structured material, however, I’ve found there to be three main arguments in favor of palaces.
Here's a question I've gotten a lot recently, in some form or another: How clear should my visualizations be? The visuals themselves aren't that important. Here's why.
Back to basics for this week's Question of the Week: What are applications of memory techniques? Why should I learn to use them?
My Anki is broken into three parent decks: Medicine, Languages, and Memory Sports, each with a few subdecks (e.g. Pathology, Chinese). Here's what my day-to-day home for spaced repetition looks like.
I often run into scenarios in which the same piece of information pops up in different contexts. Here's why encoding info multiple times might not be the great idea it seems.
If you're someone struggling to apply memory palaces, look no further. Here I discuss my top 3 realizations about memory techniques as they pertain to learning—the ones that took my approach from frustratingly ineffective to invaluable.
Memory palaces getting congested? Using lots of people, so your palaces are full of arms, legs, blood, and urine tanks? Here's what to do.
Anki, powered by spaced repetition, is a powerful tool for making things stick long-term, and I can't imagine learning without it—even with the aid of memory palaces. Here's why you should be combining spaced repetition with memory palaces to get the most from medical school and beyond.
Bottom line: No! Here's how to know when (and when not) to encode information using a memory palace.
How can I use memory techniques to learn new languages? Chinese? Spanish?
Our vocabulary strategy varies depending on the language, but the basic idea is always a variation of the memory palace technique. See Getting Started #1-4 for the basics. Video #4 contains two Spanish examples.
For specifics about learning Chinese, see Part 1, Part 2, and this video where Alex goes through one of his Chinese learning sessions. You can also read about how Alex deals with character memorization and homonyms.
These discussions deal mainly with mnemonics as vocabulary acquisition tools. Of course, a full language-learning approach should also include as much conversation and listening practice as possible.
See this link for Alex's discussion of how he uses Memrise to learn English vocabulary (e.g. SAT vocab).
What memory books and websites do you recommend?
Alex: These are the resources I used to get started:
Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer
Quantum Memory Power by Dominic O’Brien
Memory in a Month by Ron White