Art of memory
The art of memory is any of a number of loosely associated mnemonic principles and techniques used to organize memory impressions, improve recall, assist in the combination and'invention' of ideas. An alternative and used term is "Ars Memorativa", often translated as "art of memory" although its more literal meaning is "Memorative Art", it is sometimes referred to as mnemotechnics. It is an'art' in the Aristotelian sense, to say a method or set of prescriptions that adds order and discipline to the pragmatic, natural activities of human beings, it has existed as a recognized group of principles and techniques since at least as early as the middle of the first millennium BCE, was associated with training in rhetoric or logic, but variants of the art were employed in other contexts the religious and the magical. Techniques employed in the art include the association of striking memory images within visualized locations, the chaining or association of groups of images, the association of images with schematic graphics or notae, the association of text with images.
Any or all of these techniques were used in combination with the contemplation or study of architecture, books and painting, which were seen by practitioners of the art of memory as externalizations of internal memory images and/or organization. Because of the variety of principles and techniques, their various applications, some researchers refer to "the arts of memory", rather than to a single art, it has been suggested that the art of memory originated among the Pythagoreans or even earlier among the ancient Egyptians, but no conclusive evidence has been presented to support these claims. The primary classical sources for the art of memory which deal with the subject at length include the Rhetorica ad Herennium, Cicero's De oratore, Quintilian's Institutio Oratoria. Additionally, the art is mentioned in fragments from earlier Greek works including the Dialexis, dated to 400 BCE. Aristotle wrote extensively on the subject of memory, mentions the technique of the placement of images to lend order to memory.
Passages in his works On The Soul and On Memory and Reminiscence proved to be influential in the revival of the art among medieval Scholastics. The most common account of the creation of the art of memory centers around the story of Simonides of Ceos, a famous Greek poet, invited to chant a lyric poem in honor of his host, a nobleman of Thessaly. While praising his host, Simonides mentioned the twin gods Castor and Pollux; when the recital was complete, the nobleman selfishly told Simonides that he would only pay him half of the agreed upon payment for the panegyric, that he would have to get the balance of the payment from the two gods he had mentioned. A short time Simonides was told that two men were waiting for him outside, he could find no one. While he was outside the banquet hall, it collapsed, crushing everyone within; the bodies were so disfigured. But, Simonides was able to remember where each of the guests had been sitting at the table, so was able to identify them for burial; this experience suggested to Simonides the principles which were to become central to the development of the art he reputedly invented.
He inferred that persons desiring to train this faculty must select places and form mental images of the things they wish to remember and store those images in the places, so that the order of the places will preserve the order of the things, the images of the things will denote the things themselves, we shall employ the places and the images as a wax writing-tablet and the letters written upon it. The early Christian monks adapted techniques common in the art of memory as an art of composition and meditation, in keeping with the rhetorical and dialectical context in which it was taught, it became the basic method for reading and meditating upon the Bible after making the text secure within one's memory. Within this tradition, the art of memory was passed along to the Middle Ages and the Renaissance; when Cicero and Quintilian were revived after the 13th century, humanist scholars understood the language of these ancient writers within the context of the medieval traditions they knew best, which were profoundly altered by monastic practices of meditative reading and composition.
Saint Thomas Aquinas was an important influence in promoting the art when, in following Cicero's categorization, he defined it as a part of Prudence and recommended its use to meditate on the virtues and to improve one's piety. In scholasticism artificial memory came to be used as a method for recollecting the whole universe and the roads to Heaven and Hell; the Dominicans were important in promoting its uses, see for example Cosmos Rossellius. The Jesuit missionary Matteo Ricci - who from 1582 until his death in 1610, worked to introduce Christianity to China - described the system of places and images in his work, A Treatise On Mnemonics. However, he advanced it only as an aid to passing examinations rather than as a means of new composition, though it had traditionally been taught, both in dialectics and in rhetoric, as a tool for such composition or'invention'. Ricci was trying to gain favour with the Chinese imperial service, which required a notoriously difficult entry examination. Following the example of Metrodorus of Scepsis, vaguely described in Quintilian's Institutio oratoria, Giordano Bruno, a defrocked Dominican, used
A mnemonic device, or memory device, is any learning technique that aids information retention or retrieval in the human memory. Mnemonics make use of elaborative encoding, retrieval cues, imagery as specific tools to encode any given information in a way that allows for efficient storage and retrieval. Mnemonics aid original information in becoming associated with something more accessible or meaningful—which, in turn, provides better retention of the information. Encountered mnemonics are used for lists and in auditory form, such as short poems, acronyms, or memorable phrases, but mnemonics can be used for other types of information and in visual or kinesthetic forms, their use is based on the observation that the human mind more remembers spatial, surprising, sexual, humorous, or otherwise "relatable" information, rather than more abstract or impersonal forms of information. The word "mnemonic" is derived from the Ancient Greek word μνημονικός, meaning "of memory, or relating to memory" and is related to Mnemosyne, the name of the goddess of memory in Greek mythology.
Both of these words are derived from μνήμη, "remembrance, memory". Mnemonics in antiquity were most considered in the context of what is today known as the art of memory. Ancient Greeks and Romans distinguished between two types of memory: the "natural" memory and the "artificial" memory; the former is inborn, is the one that everyone uses instinctively. The latter in contrast has to be trained and developed through the learning and practice of a variety of mnemonic techniques. Mnemonic systems are strategies consciously used to improve memory, they help use information stored in long-term memory to make memorisation an easier task. The general name of mnemonics, or memoria technica, was the name applied to devices for aiding the memory, to enable the mind to reproduce a unfamiliar idea, a series of dissociated ideas, by connecting it, or them, in some artificial whole, the parts of which are mutually suggestive. Mnemonic devices were much cultivated by Greek sophists and philosophers and are referred to by Plato and Aristotle.
In times the poet Simonides was credited for development of these techniques for no reason other than that the power of his memory was famous. Cicero, who attaches considerable importance to the art, but more to the principle of order as the best help to memory, speaks of Carneades of Athens and Metrodorus of Scepsis as distinguished examples of people who used well-ordered images to aid the memory; the Romans valued. The Greek and the Roman system of mnemonics was founded on the use of mental places and signs or pictures, known as "topical" mnemonics; the most usual method was to choose a large house, of which the apartments, windows, furniture, etc. were each associated with certain names, events or ideas, by means of symbolic pictures. To recall these, an individual had only to search over the apartments of the house until discovering the places where images had been placed by the imagination. In accordance with said system, if it were desired to fix a historic date in memory, it was localised in an imaginary town divided into a certain number of districts, each of with ten houses, each house with ten rooms, each room with a hundred quadrates or memory-places on the floor on the four walls on the roof.
Therefore, if it were desired to fix in the memory the date of the invention of printing, an imaginary book, or some other symbol of printing, would be placed in the thirty-sixth quadrate or memory-place of the fourth room of the first house of the historic district of the town. Except that the rules of mnemonics are referred to by Martianus Capella, nothing further is known regarding the practice until the 13th century. Among the voluminous writings of Roger Bacon is a tractate De arte memorativa. Ramon Llull devoted special attention to mnemonics in connection with his ars generalis; the first important modification of the method of the Romans was that invented by the German poet Konrad Celtes, who, in his Epitoma in utramque Ciceronis rhetoricam cum arte memorativa nova, used letters of the alphabet for associations, rather than places. About the end of the 15th century, Petrus de Ravenna provoked such astonishment in Italy by his mnemonic feats that he was believed by many to be a necromancer.
His Phoenix artis memoriae went through as many as nine editions, the seventh being published at Cologne in 1608. About the end of the 16th century, Lambert Schenkel, who taught mnemonics in France and Germany surprised people with his memory, he was denounced as a sorcerer by the University of Louvain, but in 1593 he published his tractate De memoria at Douai with the sanction of that celebrated theological faculty. The most complete account of his system is given in two works by his pupil Martin Sommer, published in Venice in 1619. In 1618 John Willis published Mnemonica. Giordano Bruno included a memoria technica in his treatise De umbris idearum, as part of his study of the ars generalis of Llull. Other writers of this period are the Florentine Publicius. Porta, Ars reminiscendi. In 1648 Stanislaus Mink von Wennsshein revealed what he called the "most fertile secret" in mnemonics — using consonants for figures, thus expressing numbers by words, i
Method of loci
The method of loci is a method of memory enhancement which uses visualizations with the use of spatial memory, familiar information about one's environment, to and efficiently recall information. The method of loci is known as the memory journey, memory palace, or mind palace technique; this method is a mnemonic device adopted in ancient Roman and Greek rhetorical treatises. Many memory contest champions claim to use this technique to recall faces and lists of words; the term is most found in specialised works on psychology and memory, though it was used in the same general way at least as early as the first half of the nineteenth century in works on rhetoric and philosophy. John O'Keefe and Lynn Nadel refer to:'the method of loci', an imaginal technique known to the ancient Greeks and Romans and described by Yates in her book The Art of Memory as well as by Luria. In this technique the subject memorizes the layout of some building, or the arrangement of shops on a street, or any geographical entity, composed of a number of discrete loci.
When desiring to remember a set of items the subject'walks' through these loci in their imagination and commits an item to each one by forming an image between the item and any feature of that locus. Retrieval of items is achieved by'walking' through the loci, allowing the latter to activate the desired items; the efficacy of this technique has been well established, as is the minimal interference seen with its use. The items to be remembered in this mnemonic system are mentally associated with specific physical locations; the method relies on memorized spatial relationships to establish order and recollect memorial content. It is known as the "Journey Method", used for storing lists of related items, or the "Roman Room" technique, most effective for storing unrelated information. Many effective memorisers today use the "method of loci" to some degree. Contemporary memory competition, in particular the World Memory Championship, was initiated in 1991 and the first United States championship was held in 1997.
Part of the competition requires committing to memory and recalling a sequence of digits, two-digit numbers, alphabetic letters, or playing cards. In a simple method of doing this, using various strategies well before competing, commit to long-term memory a unique vivid image associated with each item, they have committed to long-term memory a familiar route with established stop-points or loci. In the competition they need only deposit the image that they have associated with each item at the loci. To recall, they retrace the route, "stop" at each locus, "observe" the image, they translate this back to the associated item. For example, Ed Cooke, a World Memory Champion Competitor, describes to Josh Foer in his book Moonwalking with Einstein how he uses the method of loci. First, he describes a familiar location where he can remember many different smaller locations like his sink in his childhood home or his dog's bed. Cooke advises that the more outlandish and vulgar the symbol used to memorize the material, the more it will stick.
Memory champions elaborate on this by combining images. Eight-time World Memory Champion Dominic O'Brien uses this technique; the 2006 World Memory Champion, Clemens Mayer, used a 300-point-long journey through his house for his world record in "number half marathon", memorising 1040 random digits in a half-hour. Gary Shang has used the method of loci to memorise pi to over 65,536 digits. Using this technique a person with ordinary memorisation capabilities, after establishing the route stop-points and committing the associated images to long-term memory, with some practice, can remember the sequence of a shuffled deck of cards; the world record for this is held by Simon Reinhard at 21.19 seconds. The technique is taught as a metacognitive technique in learning-to-learn courses, it is applied to encoding the key ideas of a subject. Two approaches are: Link the key ideas of a subject and deep-learn those key ideas in relation to each other, Think through the key ideas of a subject in depth, re-arrange the ideas in relation to an argument link the ideas to loci in good order.
The method of loci has been shown to help sufferers of depression remember positive, self-affirming memories. A study at the University of Maryland evaluated participants ability to recall two sets of familiar faces, using a traditional desktop, with a head-mounted display; the study was designed to leverage the method of loci technique, with virtual environments resembling memory palaces. The study found an 8.8% recall improvement in favor of the head-mounted display, in part due to participants being able to leverage their vestibular and proprioceptive sensations. The Rhetorica ad Herennium and most other sources recommend that the method of loci should be integrated with elaborative encoding to strengthen memory. However, due to the strength of spatial memory mentally placing objects in real or imagined locations without further elaboration can be effective for simple associations. A variation of the "method of loci" involves creating imaginary locations to which the same procedure is applied.
It is accepted that there is a greater cost involved in the initial setup, but thereafter the performance is in line with the standard loci method. The purported advantage is to create towns and cities that each represent a topic or an area of study