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The Method of Loci

The Method of Loci is a mnemonic device that dates back to Ancient Greek times. Greek orators (speakers) would use this method to help them memorize speeches. There is a tale about the Greek orator Simonides of Ceos who used this method in the 5th century B. C. (Yount, p. 69) . He was at a banquet to give a speech. He stepped outside for a moment to receive a message whereupon the banquet hall collapsed, leaving no survivors inside. Simonides was able to identify the bodies of the killed guests based on where he had last seen them sitting or standing before he left the building. The relatives of the deceased were grateful, for they could not identify the victims' mangled bodies.(Gruneberg & Herrmann, 1997, p. 12)

In order to use the method of Loci, you must first imagine a place with which you are familiar. There are several possible places you could use. You must be able to identify several locations within that one place. It is best if these locations can be given a logical order, such as clockwise, or top to bottom. Here are some examples that would work:

Place: your house
Various locations: rooms in the house

Place: your room
Various locations: objects, such as your bed, your desk, the closet, etc.

Place: a baseball field
Various locations: players' positions

Place: Your ride/drive to work/school
Various locations: stores or landmarks you see along the way.

Once you have identified your place and inner locations, you are set to go. You go through a list of words and associate each word with one of your locations. You should go in order so that you will be able to retrieve all of the items for sure.

Try the loci activity in the mnemonics activities.

* LOCI - method of loci - "objects to be remembered are imagined in known locations " ( Benjamin, Hopkins, & Natio, 1994.p.267)

was used by Greek and Roman orators (speakers) ( "Mnemonic Devices." 2000 .p.2);

used by Simonides, Greek poet, story goes, he...