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Derren Brown Memory System = Loci System - Learn to Remember

Updated on November 22, 2017

The Loci System

In Derren Brown's book - Tricks of the mind; Derren Brown shared an excellent technique that he uses to "Remember to remember". The technique that he shared with us was a linking system called "The Loci System". The Loci System is one of the most effective and easiest ways to remember anything that requires an order, or a form of linking together. The Loci system can utilised to help with a number of every day tasks - such as:

  • Remembering a shopping list.
  • Remembering peoples names.
  • Remembering a presentation.
  • Remembering a to do list.

Our brain uses images to create emotions and when we have an image fixed into our mind then it becomes easier for us to remember. Every memory that you have is in fact supported by an image. With this knowledge of how the brain operates we are able to use it in order to to help us to remember things in the future as well as in the past.

Using images to support us with remembering a system is much easier than one might think. Whilst it takes a little bit of practise, it can be used as an tool to assist us in living our every day lives in a more organised and controlled manner.

How The Loci System Works

The word "Loci" can be replaced with the word "Location" and the system itself could be better understood as "The Location System". It is your job to use a number of locations that you know well and apply images to them (in your mind) which will help you in remembering whatever it is that you desire to do so.

Let's test it out

Firstly you need to identify a route that you are very familiar with. This could be your daily commute to work, a walk that you take on a regular basis, or even a building that you know such as your home or work office. For the sake of this test let's take your daily commute home from your workplace.

You then need to write down a list of 10 standout points that you encounter on your journey home. For example:

1) Barrier to leave the car park

2) Roundabout

3) Bridge

4) Shopping Mall

5) Pub

6) Shop ........ and continue so on until you have 10 locations defined.

The 10 key locations that you written down become your "Loci" points which you will refer to when in need of remembering something. It's important to remember these as these will become your source of remembering.

The next step is to determine what it is that we would like to remember. For the purpose of this test let's say that we are required to do a lengthy presentation at work and we are expected to do so freely without the use of a computer or any visual aids.

Let's say that the first thing that you need to discuss in your presentation is the use of shopping trolleys to benefit your business. Take your very first loci point that you have established on your way home from work. In my case that will be the barrier as I leave the car park. Now find a way to attach a mental image of shopping trolleys to your first location. For me I will visualise a huge line of bright pink shopping trolleys laid out in front of the barrier which stops me from being able to drive through. These trolleys are everywhere, hanging from the barrier, laying upside down and in no particular order. It would take at least 10 minutes to clear them. The more eccentric and descriptive you can make these mental images the easier they will be to remember. Who is going to forget the bright pink shopping trolleys that have caused them delay in getting home that evening?

Now lets say that the next topic for our presentation is to discuss co-worker time keeping which has fallen in previous months. We should now use the 2nd point on my loci system - The Roundabout. Again, let's visualise something about the roundabout that will help us remember "time". Let's imagine the roundabout as one big clock when looked on from above.... or perhaps imagine the famous Big Ben Clock standing tall in the middle of the roundabout chiming so loudly that you can hear it over your car speaker system.

We now have mental images and emotional connections formed for 2 of our loci points - The car park barrier and the roundabout.

Once you have a mental image mapped out in your mind it becomes much easier to remember, and so when it comes to doing the presentation it's going nto be far easier to stay on track.


By using the loci system you can use as many locations as you like. You can set up as many loci systems as you like by using a number of different routes that you are familiar with. When it comes to doing that presentation it will be so much easier because all you need to remember are the points on your journey home and that way you know you will not forget the order of your presentation.


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