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The Link Method of Memory

written by: partha1061 • edited by: Kellie Hayden • updated: 1/17/2012

The Link Method of Memory makes it very easy and fun to remember each and every item in a list or sequence exactly as it is presented. Also, the level of retention is much higher as it is a more natural method of memory.

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    The Genius of Link Method

    The Link method of memory makes it very easy and fun to remember each and every item in a list or sequence exactly as it is presented. Also, the level of retention is much higher as it is a more natural method of memory.

    How it Works

    Suppose you were given a list of items to memorize and write down on paper exactly asit is, in proper sequence only, then will you succeed initially? Not many people can claim to do so, and even if some of the students are able to do so then it is seen by experience that they will not retain it even for a few hours.

    Let us play a small game here; I will give you a small list of everyday items to memorize. You will have 5 minutes to look at the list and then reproduce it on paper, in proper sequence and spelling without referring to it while you do so. Here is the list:

    • Paper
    • lightbulb
    • door
    • apple pie
    • fork
    • car
    • brick
    • coffee mug
    • black board
    • room heater
    • pear
    • dog
    • window
    • remote control
    • radio
    • books
    • shoes
    • computer keyboard
    • trousers
    • motorbike
    • nail file
    • pizza

    It is quite a long list and if you find it difficult at first then break the list into roughly three quarter of the items listed and then time yourself to find out exactly how many items you have written down correctly, in sequence.

    If you use the usual method of memorization, which is by rote or mugging up, then you will find it difficult to do so and to retain the list of items for any length of time. This is because the rote method of memory i.e memorizing by repetition of anything has its own limitations. It is useful for remembering a list of related items, for e.g pen, pencil, notepad, eraser, geometry box, books etc. All this is easily remembered beacause they are all related items and are used together frequently for studies. Any group of items, ideas, theory, words or phrases can be remembered in the same way if they are closely related to each other and they mean something to us. In our subconcious brain the new information is stored by associating it with the information we already know or remember.

    However, the limitation of the rote method of memory is that it has very limited utility in remembering a group of unrelated items, theory, words or phrases. Even if we do manage to remember such information by the help of rote memory we are usually not able to retain it for a considerable length of time. We often forget upto 80% of the info learned by our studies within a few days, due to lack of revision and limitations of the rote method of memory.

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    How the Link Method Works

    The Link Method of memory overcomes both the drawbacks of our usual rote method of memorization. We can use it to quickly and easily remember even unrelated objects or concepts through conscious association of item in the list. The Link method also enables us to retain the information for as long as we like, with little or no revision at all! Although memory systems using the conscious way of association have been in vogue for long, they were first systemized and put on paper by a German memory expert in the year 1648. Later, in 1730, it was revised by Richard Grey of England and made a more scientific and accurate system.

    You may think how is this possible? But it is both easy and possible for thousands of people around the world have used it to remember things far better and longer.

    Remember, earlier we talked about conscious association in the Link Method of Memory? It will be clear in a moment. Suppose I told you that I went to the local store on a bicycle. Would you be even mildly surprised? Or give it a second thought? Of course not, because it is a mundane task. But, suppose I told you that I went to the supermarket on a flying broomstick would you be surprised and confused? Yes, I think so, because it is a ridiculous, extra ordinary thing to be even considered.

    Why it Works

    Here is the secret of conscious association in the Link Method. If you consciously associate two objects in your mind, like a dish and a fork on the dining table, then you are not likely to remember it at all. Because it is too normal, logical, and obvious. It does not strike a chord in our mind. However, if you use a ridiculous, extra ordinary, illogical association in your imagination, like a huge dish chewing up many forks then you are far more likely to remember it.

    The Link method uses our imagination to a great extent for making memorizing to be a fun and easy process. Use your imagination to link the first item to the second, second item to third and so on until you have reached the end of the list. Always imagine vivid, totally illogical, humorous pictures in your mind, linking the first item to the second one, second to third and likewise. There are few guidelines on how to do so successfully:

    1. Imagine the objects in your picture to be huge, gigantic out of proportions. As if you are seeing everything right in front of you. Suppose a postage stamp and lighter is included in your list then imagine a gigantic stamp kicking out a huge cigarette lighter.

    2. The objects or figures in you mental image should be in action. Like singing, dancing, fighting, swimming, skipping or running vigorously. Suppose there is a watch and car keys in your list, then you may imagine car keys chasing a huffing and puffing wristwatch.

    3. Form your mental images very vividly, as if happening in real life, in color. Grossly exaggerate the amount of items present in the mental image. Suppose there are two items, like a pencil and drilling machine one after another, then you may imagine millions of pencils flying away and drilling machines riding on them.

    4. Use substitution of one item with another. If a dish and TV set are included in your list then imagine that you are watching a gigantic dish showing TV programs and you are eating from a TV set while having dinner. Do not get stuck while trying to imagine these funny images. Form an image in your image in your mind in a second or two at first and then after some practice do it in a second's time. Usually, the first funny and illogical image, which comes to mind about the two items, is the best one to utilize.

    I hope these above guidelines will help you in utilizing the Link method of Memory. As in so many things in life, this will take some practice but once mastered it will stay with you lifelong and you will not even consider the old method of memorizing. Try it and you will be greatly surprised and feel rewarded.

    Now go back to the list at the beginning of this article and try the same memory test using the Link Method within the same time frame. You will be surprised with the results if you do it correctly. Form lists of your own from everyday items and then practice the link method. Also, use it extensively for studying. Remember, the Link method of memory makes it almost like a game, fun activity to remember lists, new words, concepts. Children, in particular, are gifted with active, vivid imagination and tend to master the Link Method of Memory much faster and better than adults.

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    An Example

    Want to improve your memory? Practise this easy technique using the Link Method. Let's start practicing by using this list of everyday items to be memorized in proper sequence within five minutes.

    Here is the list:

    • Books
    • potato
    • car
    • eggplant
    • knife
    • loud speaker
    • spectacles
    • spinach
    • gloves
    • hammer
    • picture frame
    • tiles
    • guava
    • milk packet
    • folding cot
    • watch
    • newspaper
    • wineglass.

    So you have a list of twenty items to memorize and write down on paper exactly as it is in five minutes. Link Method of memory to the rescue!

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    Create a Story

    Now follow the instructions exactly as they are outlined below:

    First form a mental image of a gigantic book spitting out huge flying potatoes by the dozen. Then visualize yourself driving a huge potato with wheels as if it where a car. Picture a huge eggplant lifting your car and throwing it down noisily. Next, picture a huge hungry eggplant chewing up your big kitchen knife. Your huge knife then starts juggling with two big loudspeakers at your home. The big loudspeaker starts tossing out your big black spectacles. Picture yourself putting on a big bunch of spinach with a frame instead of spectacles.

    Then imagine a giant spectacle wrestling furiously with your gloves. Picture that the gloves are running as they are chased by big hammer and hit by it repeatedly. Imagine the large hammer on a picture frame and it flies away slowly. While making your new home, you are laying down dozens of picture frames instead of tiles on the floor. A big tile slicing a giant guava and the guava starts crying. A big guava stealing your milk packet and running away with it fast. Imagine a huge jug of milk jumping up and down on a folding cot. Many giant watches carrying the folding cot in a funeral with you sitting on it. Your big watch tearing up the newspaper and throwing paper balls at your face. Visualize that you are drinking from a huge cup made of newspaper instead of a wineglass.

    There you have it! A link of the twenty items in the list in proper sequence! If you have followed the guidelines given above then you should have no trouble in remembering the list of 20 items, in proper sequence. What's more, you will be able to write down the list both forward and backwards! Furthermore, you will be able to do so a few hours later or even a few days later.

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    Try to form the mental images as vividly as possible.The color, the action, the gigantic size of the objects in your image and moreover the funny, illogical association between the objects will cast a lasting impression on your mind.

    Whenever, time permits you can practice the link method of memory. As you do, you will find your true memory getting stronger and more accurate.

    Does this method work for you?

Study smarter, not harder

This article series will help you in studying with better focus, enjoyable learning, far quicker and total memorization of any topic/subject for as long as you desire. You will be able to get the top most grades for any test while still saving time to enjoy your life.
  1. Mental Exercises to Improve Your IQ
  2. How to Effectively Cope with Exam Stress
  3. Mind Maps for Better Memorization
  4. The Link Method of Memory