My Least Favorite Memory Technique

When using memory techniques, it is a hard decision to pick one to use because they all have their pros and cons. Sometimes one technique fits perfectly to what you need to learn. But there is one technique I have never used to memorize anything… The Russian Doll Method.

The Russian Doll method works by having an object like a bike you are connecting information to. Let’s say we are memorizing words. The first word is a pizza so maybe you picture the pizza on the bike seat. The next part that gets a bit weird.

The next word to memorize is cow. Instead of making a story with the bike and pizza, you actually zoom in on the pizza and pick a place on the pizza to store the word cow. Maybe you place the cow on the crust or a pepperoni.

Then if you have another word like plane, you would zoom in on the cow and place the plane on the cow. Maybe you choose the head of the cow or the tail. You would continue the process for the rest of the words.

When you start to recall the information, you start with the original item you used to store the info. So you would see the bike then zoom in on the seat and see the pizza. Then you would see the pizza and zoom in to see the cow. And so on.

This is the basic idea. You can even take it a step further and use the different parts of the bike, cow, pizza, and plane. You can use the bike seat for pizza but use the handle bars to store a brand new list of words then Russian doll those words.

I can see the potential benefit of using this method where one item can contain multiple lists of information which is cool! You don’t need to create palaces ahead of time like the memory palace method. You get your locations in the Russian Doll method from the information.

The issue I have with this method is using the next level of images as a peg for the next set of info. These are all images I am picturing so they are not going to be clear. So relying on the nested images to be clear as the first image would be a struggle.

When I use a memory palace, I actually saw the location in real life so there is detail I can see. This is why I am able to memorize quickly while using a memory palace.

The Russian Doll method just doesn’t seem like it would work as great since you are creating locations on the spot and relying on the nested images to be clear. It is possible I don’t understand the Russian Doll method fully but as far as I understand, the Russian Doll method is not for me.

What do you think about the Russian Doll method? Do you use it? Am I misunderstanding something?


I think it’s really fascinating and effective, at least for me. I also use the method of loci a lot to memorize all sorts of information, and it’s my favorite memory technique, but I also love this one. I believe it’s kinda the method of loci, as in the memory palace we would have nested locations that is kinda similar to Russian doll method.

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Do you have a lot of memory palaces created? I always find this the biggest pain when trying to use the method of loci haha Can never have enough!

Hmm that is interesting way to see the Russian doll method. How have you used the Russian doll method? What have you learned with it?

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I just tried the Russian doll method right now for the first time, and it was as effective as the method of loci or even more. I like it.
Not a lot, but I have a few imaginary memory palaces. At the beginning, it was challenging for me to create imaginary non-real palaces, but it gets easier with practice.
Overall, I prefer the method of loci over other memory techniques, it is easier and more effective for me, I mean, I think that it is a versatile technique that can be used for all sorts of information. e. g. I think the problem with the Russian doll method is that for repeated items, you may get a little bit confused and the objects will overlap etc…
But the method of loci doesn’t have this issue and it’s really versatile and perfect.

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What you just tried the method out right now!?! That is so awesome! What did you memorize to test it out?

How do the imaginary palaces compare to the real ones for you? I always felt I lacked flow to imaginary palaces since there is not a real layout to the palace.

Very true. I use the memory palace all the time for competition training and regular learning. I can totally see repetition of items causing issue on where the info is located.

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I memorized a list of the names of 12 random objects like apple, banana, pen etc
I imagined an apple and then a few tiny bananas on that apple and then a tiny pen on banana and so on. It worked so well (to an extent that I can say that it was somehow better than the method of loci).
The good thing with this method is that you don’t need a palace…
Also, I have a higher speed of recall when using the Russian doll method compared to the method of loci.

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Oh I can definitely see that as a benefit since you can just use it whenever. I wonder if there is a way to create a palace on the spot. Do you think there is a way?

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Yes. In general, to create imaginary mental palaces, a good way is to use Google map. it has a 3D mode where you can see some roads and maps 360° and walking through them.
Also, another great way is to use Minecraft. This game is not only for entertainment, but also it can unleash your creativity. You can create your palaces in Minecraft and then since we have a great spatial memory, it will get a place in your mind after a few times you walked through it.
And if for any reason, you don’t have enough time to create palaces in Minecraft or you just don’t like it, you can use pre-created maps and palaces! Just download them and walk through them.

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Very cool! Do you see Minecraft working just as good as a real palace? FOr me, there wouldn’t be a lot of detail with the basic Minecraft since it is kind of pixelated. I could get one good palace but I don’t think multiple out of Minecraft.

I definitely use games for creating palaces. I used Mass Effect and Skyrim. Got some of my best scores for memory training using game palaces.

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Yes; because I think if you have a good visualization, you can make the Minecraft map detailed in your mind. But to an extent, I agree with you. If you could use a real place like your home, it is definitely better or as you mentioned, a game like Skyrim also can definitely help. But for me, Minecraft was almost as useful as a real place, and maybe it’s a result of my consistent practice and interest in the method of loci. Practice makes perfect.

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I can definitely see that! How many palaces do you have in Minecraft? Have you used other games?