IQ Test Labs

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working memory

Memory by association

With association, new information is integrated with memories in long term memory and can be memorized more easily. When making associations between new and existing knowledge, it helps to create bizarre and vivid images that will make a lasting impression. The more you incorporate your senses, the more vivid these images will become. Therefore use touch, vision, hearing, taste and smell as often as possible. Try to make your images and associations funny, exaggerated, colorful and imaginative. This way they will stand out in you memory and be recalled more easily.



When trying to remember something try to visualize it or "see" it in your mind. The more absurd you make the picture the more easy it will be for you to remember. For example if you need to remember that your locker number is 2M then visualize the number two wedged between two mountain tops

Create a Story

An item list can be memorized by forming one continuous story and by forming associations between items.

cup car bicycle television table parachute chocolate

Example: Imagine someone trying to drink a cup of coffee whilst being seated in the passenger seat of a car being driven at high speed. In order to avoid a bicycle, the driver slams the breaks. Coffee spills all over a television set on the back seat. A table suddenly falls into the middle of the road, in front of the car. Before you realize what has happened, a kangaroo on a chair parachutes next to the table and places a bar of chocolate onto the table.

Item Pairs

Pais of items are created with the resulting images having a common item that connects them. The item pairs can be memorized easily if the associations between them are bizarre, detailed and colorful.

Here is a list of items to memorize.

cup car bicycle television table parachute chocolate

Visualize the following scenarios:

  • memoryA big cup with a small matchbox car inside.
  • memoryA car driving down the street and someone riding next to it on a bicycle.
  • memorySomeone balancing a bicycle on one wheel on a television set.
  • memoryA television set placed on a table with a knife and fork on either side.
  • memoryA table falling out of the sky on a parachute
  • memoryThe parachute opens up and small chocolates fly out.

Method of Loci

This memory technique pegs new items to locations that are already committed to memory.

This is a powerful technique because it can be used for an infinite number of new item groups.

As long as the memory of the initial story remains intact, you can immediately begin to memorize new item groups in any desired order.

First, create a base story, that contains a list of locations, and commit it to memory.

The following is an example story, of a park route:

Park route story:

  1. Walk up the street.
  2. Enter the park gate.
  3. Walk down the path.
  4. Stop at the fountain.
  5. Walk past the tennis courts.
  6. Cross the lawn.
  7. Sit down by the fence.

The above locations, in bold, have formed our base. They will facilitate the recollection of any number of items groups you wish to remember.

Time to try this out for yourself!

Link the items below to a location in the park. Assign the items in the order that you would like to retrieve them.

cup car bicycle cellphone wolves helicopter chocolate

How did you do? Do you see how easy it is to remember the items and the order?

The items follow the storyline, therefore depending on where you peg each item will determine the order in which you will remember the items in the group.

Here is an example of ordered pegging:

1.cup 3.bicycle 4.cellphone 5.wolves 6.helicopter 7.chocolate

  1. Imagine walking up the street drinking your coffee. Imagine a cold morning and the coffee steaming from the cup.
  2. Imagine a car blocking the park gate so that you have to climb over the wall to get in. You feel bothered that someone should park there, of all places.
  3. Imagine getting on a bicycle and racing down the path before skidding on wet grass.
  4. Imagine a cellphone dancing on top of the water that is shooting up from the fountain.
  5. Imagine the tennis courts packed with howling wolves.
  6. Imagine the lawn has a helipad where a helicopter is about to land.
  7. Imagine sitting with your back against the fence eating chocolate, when the wind from the helicopter blows the wrapping paper out of your hands.

You will find the more extraordinary the images and associations, the easier it will be to remember the new items. Try to use all of your senses and imagine how something would taste/feel/sound like. Add color, music and movement wherever possible. Distort the images, and make them smaller or bigger in order to make them more memorable. In addition to item/location links, link the locations and items with each other, in order to tie the story together and create flow. Try to establish cause/effect relationships between the items and the locations.

Number rhyme

This method is similar to the method of Loci mentioned above. Numbers must be associated with a set of keywords that rhyme with each number. Your preferred keywords can then be used to form associations with word lists that can then be remembered in an ordered list.

For example here are words that rhyme with the numbers one to five

  • memoryOne - sun
  • memoryTwo - kangaroo
  • memory Three - tree
  • memory Four - shore
  • memory Five - skydive

Now associate each of the keywords above with a word from a word list that needs to be memorized. Here is an example of associations that can be made with a list of sports.

diving sailing soccer tennis surfing

  • memoryOne - sun - diving. Imagine someone diving with the sun in the background, something like Da Vinci's Vitruvian man.
  • memoryTwo - kangaroo - sailing. Imagine a kangaroo sailing and testing the water with it's toe, to see if it's cold.
  • memoryThree - tree - soccer. Imagine a tree in the middle of a soccer field with branches so long that they reach the goal posts on either side.
  • memory Four - shore - tennis. Imagine a net in the middle of the atlantic ocean and one player on the shore of europe and the other on the shore of America.
  • memoryFive - skydive - surfing. Imagine a skydiver landing on the ocean on a surfboard.

Foreign Language Keywords

Take a foreign word and choose a word or phrase in english that sounds like the foreign word. Next make an association between the keyword and the english translation of the foreign word.

Here are a few examples:

  • memoryThe Spanish word for thief is ladron. Imagine a thief running out of a bank with a ladder on his back.
  • memoryThe Russian word for black is chornay. Imagine you make a journey in Moscow in a black limousine.
  • memoryThe Italian for full is pieno. Imagine you are so full that you have to lie down on a grand piano.
  • memory The German for bottle is flasche. Imagine a bottle flashing on a bar.

Image-Name Technique

Try to make an association between the name and an imaginary or physical characteristic of a person. For example imagine Ving Rhames with wings. Or you can imagine Whoopi Goldberg with oars, rowing on a golden iceberg.