The link mnemonic system is a simple technique for memorizing a series of information in order. This technique may have limited general practical application but demonstrates the principles of mnemonic systems very well.
When learning the principles of mnemonic systems this is a good place to start — you will be amazed at how effectively you can remember a list of items.
Memorizing information with the link mnemonic system
Before you get started on this technique, make sure you understand the principles of using imagery in memory tasks. The better you understand how to use imagery the more effective the technique will be.
For this technique to work, you need to be able to form a visual image for each item in your list. If your list contains concrete nouns (such as a shopping list) then forming visual images of each item is easy. If the list contains more abstract items (such as the steps of a procedure) then you may need to create related images and associate them with each item.
To start, form a visual image of the first two items on your list. Then, visualize an interaction between these two items. The more bizarre or unusual the interaction the more likely you will remember it.
Progress through the list forming a visual connection between each consecutive item in the list. This will create a chain of images in your memory each connected by a unique and unusual association.
Some points to remember when performing this technique:
- When making the list of associations make sure you clearly visualize each image.
- Don’t go back and review the items in your list while you are still memorizing your list — trust in your memory and the technique.
- Associate the first item on the list with something related to the list. For example, if it is a shopping list, relate the first item to the store.
Recalling information with the link mnemonic system
To recall information that was encoded with the link mnemonic system, simply picture the first item in the list. This should serve as a reminder, or cue, of the relationship you imagined with the second item in the list. The second item in the list should trigger your memory of the third item, and so on through the entire list.
Note that recalling information backwards is almost as easy and effective as recalling the information forward. Simply start with the last item and recall each visual association moving through the list in reverse.
One of the limitations of this system is that forgetting one item in the list affects the recall of all subsequent items. However, since it is possible to move forward and backwards through the list, if you remember an item in the list after the item you have forgotten, you can start there and recover more elements from the list.
Applications of the link mnemonic system
There are many ways you can use the link mnemonic system to memorize lists of information. These can include:
- Memorizing your shopping list
- Memorizing your to do lists
- Can be used to memorize information that has separate ordered parts such as the amendments to the Constitution, the ten commandments, or the names of the American presidents
- Lists of names such as the members of your favorite sports team
- Can be used to memorize the main points of a speech so you can present a speech without reference to cue cards.
- If you can perform the system quickly (which comes from practice) you can use it to remember the main points from another person’s speech or a school lecture.
- Memorizing essays for essay based exams at school
- Memorize the cards in a deck of cards
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