Roman Room Memory Method

Roman Room Memory Method - toolshero

This article explains in a practical way the Roman Room Method. After reading, you will understand the basics of this powerful memory method.

What is the Roman Room Method?

The Roman Room Method is a method developed in ancient Rome and still used today for the agility of remembrance and the improvement of memory.

In ancient times, it was common for people to memorize and recite poems or political speeches for social events. This required an effective method of memorization that would succeed in remembering and enhancing memory. This is how Simonides of Ceos, a Greek poet, was called the inventor of this memorization technique as he became famous for the following anecdote

Simonides was invited to dinner at the home of a rich man called Scopas, who had commissioned him to compose a poem in his honour to liven up the evening. After listening to the poem, Scopas complained that in his verses he had named more of the heroes of mythology called Dioscuros than himself. Having said that, he paid her half of what he had promised and asked her to go and ask the rest of the money from the aforementioned heroes. After leaving there was an earthquake, Scopas’ house was destroyed and the guests died inside. During the debris removal work, Simonides was called to identify the bodies of the dead and he managed to do so, although not because of their faces, which had been badly disfigured, but because he was able to remember the exact place where each one was sitting at the banquet.

Psychologists have debated the functioning of memory and why the stage of remembering some important event in life occurs. The place is an important point to remember and identify facts, people or objects. The place where an experience has occurred gives us details of remembrance to remember more about that specific moment.

When explaining a little about where the Roman Room Method comes from, it is necessary to know that it is also known as the loci method or the palace of memories. This method is to train and improve the memory.

It works by imagining a room, for example the bedroom or the living room. Inside the room there are objects. The technique works by associating images to the objects in order to remember information. Take a mental journey through the room, visualising the objects and associating the images.

Deepening and practicing the Roman Room Method

The ability to retain the spaces and distributions and thus bring mental associations with the images we have in our mind is trained with the Roman Room Method. This is why using a space that we know can be important for association and remembrance. Somewhere in the house, specific places will help us with visual details (images).

Associating things to remember with the objects (items) contained in a room (your bedroom, kitchen, bathroom, living room, …)

How to build a Roman Room?

Start by choosing a room in your house. Imagine yourself standing at the door leading to that room. Now, look to your left and look for the first element you see. Look for items that are unique. As you choose the items, continue to search for items. Use ten elements of your room could be:

  1. Lamp
  2. Book shelf
  3. Chair
  4. Antique watch
  5. A decorative bird cage in my entertainment centre.
  6. A board game
  7. Sofa
  8. Telephone
  9. A frame with a photograph
  10. mirror

These 10 elements will give you ten places of memory within my living room. This, in turn, turns my living room into a filing cabinet for ten memories. By building Roman Rooms in all 9 rooms of my house (90 memory elements), I can significantly increase the memory.

It is important to space out the elements in your room. Generally, Roman Rooms consist of 10 memory locations. So give yourself space for each of the ten memory locations.

Another example for an everyday situation

If you need to go to the supermarket to buy some products, you can imagine them in one or more places of the house in your mind, and when you’re in the supermarket, you can go through the list of products by associating it with the house that is in your mind because you can visualize and remember what products you need according to the spaces of the house because they are located somewhere in the rooms of your mind.

When and how to use this method?

This method of the Roman Room is recommended to use when it is necessary to remember information that is hierarchical and has an order of several branches and concepts that are difficult to remember because of the large amount of information you have.

The above is that the information is by categories.  If we start from a detail or piece of information, each piece belongs to a secondary idea, in turn these ideas have secondary links that belong to the main ideas and these main ideas belong to the general idea that is the root of everything.

Chart 1

Although it is an old method, it is still used to improve memory and to be able to remember elements we need in our daily lives from academic documents to supermarket shopping, from the difficult to the simple and subtle. The Roman Room or the so-called Loci method connects us with imagination, space and objects, thus giving a more congruent form to memory.

Here you can see in the following graphic a model of a simple room for memory:

This rectangular drawing is the room with the objects in the centre of the walls and corners.

The objects should not have anything around them, since the idea is that when you imagine yourself looking at an object, in your field of vision there is nothing else that can distract you. These objects should be placed at eye level, so you don’t have to look up or down.

Order is also vital, located at the entrance door, we go to the right first and will go around the room in the opposite direction to the clockwise. In this way we are assured of the position, that is, for example, the fifth object will always be located on the wall in front of the door, the eighth in the lower left corner, etc. (even positions in the corners, odd positions in the centre of the walls). In this way, when I want to remember what I memorised in seventh position, I don’t need to go through the room passing by the first object, second, etc. but I will go directly to the object situated on the left wall (the seventh).

In order for the objects located in the room to be easy to remember, they should all relate to a common theme. In other words, we are going to create monothematic rooms.

Another Roman Room Memory Method example

Create a room, enter it and when you list it start from the left shoulder, you list the room from 1 until you count all the walls including the floor and the ceiling, always in the opposite direction. If the room has 6 walls including the floor and the ceiling, you will assign each number between 1 and 6 what you want to remember as:

  • Andrew
  • Maria
  • Benjamin
  • Lucy
  • Kim
  • Marcus

Each number of the walls has corresponding information. This is memorized by association, not by repetition. This also applies if it is to memorize an object.

Who used this method of memory in the history?

The monks used this method to memorise the verses of the bible so that they could quote them later. Thomas Aquinas was one of the characters who popularised this method of study for meditation. Quintiliano and Giordano Bruno used a variant of this technique in which the places of reference were the signs of the zodiac, among others.

This method is also used today to help patients suffering from depression.

The Roman Room used in movies and series, fiction or real?

The Roman Room method has transcended for decades not only in the academic field but also in the creation of fictional scenarios of movies or series in this new era. Where nowadays the creation of digital content is used to entertain and generate audiences by the good, stories, creativity and incredible scenarios that make the viewers are added to this film industry movement whether it is in Netflix, tv or the big screen, the cinema.

The Roman Room Method has been a method to give fiction series the rational logic they need to create expectation, mystery and suspense in the solution of problems that arise during the course of audio-visual narrative.

Example of this are:

  • Sherlock Holmes (TV series) which repeatedly uses this method to recall discourses, objects and events that happened before in order to solve the mystery.
  • In the series The Mentalist the protagonist creates palaces of memory at various points in the series. The main character Patrick Jane uses the method to memorize cards and to bet, thus achieving success.
  • The character Hannibal Lecter in the film The Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal the series also uses the method.

Conclusion

The Roman Room (Loci), being an ancient method, is used as a reference for the technique of memory improvement for the remembrance of important things that we do not want to forget and that we want to associate.

It is not a myth that memory is something that many people are afraid of losing over the years. That is why activities, techniques and methods of memorization are becoming more and more popular, so as not to forget, not to forget facts, dates, objects, moments that are part of every personal history that every human being carries with him.

The fear of losing this type of information makes us resort to techniques like this. The Roman Room Method is a legendary method that has spent decades in people’s minds generating rooms of associations with the power of the mind and imagination.

This is how the mind is exercised, improves memory and at the same time generates confidence to the person who needs to recite an academic or work presentation, a song or a poem among other things that need to be remembered.

The space determines an important role in the memorization, since the place connects the order of the objects, the images to be able to generate the memory in a more appropriate way. This is important in order to generate the association with those objects and to give light to the memorization.

With the Loci method it is also advisable to use visual or auditory details for greater concentration and strengthening of the memory. Without neglecting the strength of spatial memory, using the imagination to create objects in real places such as a room is effective in generating the association of memory.

Important as you expand to more rooms more memory is exercised with discipline to be able to remember and recite what is desired. In most cases it becomes a method of study or a technique that is often used for the exercise and improvement of memory.

It is your turn

What do you think? Do you think the Roman Room is still a common method used today? Or do you think it is already an obsolete method of memorization and there are better ones? if you have put this method into practice, share your experience with us? do you have anything else to add or any suggestions?
Share your experience and knowledge in the comments box below.

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More information

  1. Stopek, M. L. (2011). U.S. Patent No. 8,028,883. Washington, DC: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
  2. Lupien, S. J., Fiocco, A., Wan, N., Maheu, F., Lord, C., Schramek, T., & Tu, M. T. (2005). Stress hormones and human memory function across the lifespan. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 30(3), 225-242.
  3. Squire, L. R. (1982). The neuropsychology of human memory. Annual review of neuroscience, 5(1), 241-273.
  4. Li, G., Cherrier, M. M., Tsuang, D. W., Petrie, E. C., Colasurdo, E. A., Craft, S., … & Wilkinson, C. W. (2006). Salivary cortisol and memory function in human aging. Neurobiology of aging, 27(11), 1705-1714.

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