Ever since I first visited the Netherlands several years ago, I’ve wanted to learn the language. However, in the 14 months since I started, progress has been slow.
In parallel to this, I’ve been fortunate enough to begin working with virtual reality in my capacity as Training Developer, and I’m currently learning the skills I need to build virtual worlds. It’s natural therefore, that I have been thinking about potential methods of mapping learning into virtual spaces.
All of this reminded me of the concept of ‘Memory Palaces’. A pretentious sounding word for the technique of using spacial memory to aid recollection. It is also known as the ‘method of loci’.
The basic idea is that in order to remember facts, you create a striking mental image, which represent that fact, then map it onto a physical space in your mind. Since we are evolved as hunter-gatherers, we can recall information relating to physical space more readily than facts which exist purely in the abstract.
I first read about the technique in Derren Brown’s book ‘Tricks of the Mind’ back in 2006. More famously, it was adopted by Sherlock Holmes in the recent BBC series. Horror fans will also recognise it as the method by which Hannibal Lector structured and accessed his own vast intellect.