The newsletter of the Memory Disorders Project at Rutgers University

What is Mnemonics

Mnemonics is a general term that can refer to any technique or “trick” used to improve or assist memory.  

A simple kind of mnemonic is to encode to-be-remembered information into a rhyme (“Thirty days hath September, April, June, and November” or “i before e, except after c”).  

Another common kind of mnemonic is the acronym, a word or sentence formed from the first letter of each word in a list. Thus, a geography student might remember HOMES as the names of the Great Lakes (Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, Superior), while a music student might memorize the sentence “Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge” to remember the notes on the treble clef (E, G, B, D, F).

Mnemonics Method - "method of loci"

Very complex mnemonic systems exist that allow people to remember long lists of random information.  

One famous method is the “method of loci” (loci means places). In this method, a person remembers a list of items by imagining walking through a familiar place, like her house, and visualizing herself putting one of the items in each room. Later, to remember the items, she merely imagines walking back through the house, recalling what item she “left” in each room.  This method of remembering information dates back at least to the ancient Greeks, who used it to remember the points they wanted to make in a speech.

Further Reading:

Article : "The Masters of Memory"

by Catherine E. Myers, Copyright © 2006 Memory Loss and the Brain