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Association is at the heart of developing a perfect memory. It is the mechanism by which memory works. There is a great post on how association can help cure mental diseases as well. The brain comprises billions of neurons or nerve cells that are connected together in a maze of pathways, allowing an infinite number of permutations of thoughts and memories. Therefore, it is feasible to suggest that any two thoughts, ideas, words, numbers or objects can be linked easily no matter how contrary their nature, and in a rich variety of ways. All you need to do is to allow your thoughts to radiate freely.

For example, how does your brain process the two objects chalk and cheese? What do you associate with these words? Chalking a picture of cheese on a chalkboard? Prodding cheese with a stick of chalk to test its firmness?

We tend to think of an object not by its dictionary definition but rather by the notions which we associate with it. When I hear the word “frog” I don’t automatically compute a tailless web-footed amphibian; rather, I think of a pond, tadpoles, a scene from a fairy tale, footage from a TV nature documentary, and much more. When you see the word “snow” you don’t perceive it as atmospheric vapour frozen in crystalline form, more likely you have personal associations, such as building your first snowman, a skiing holiday, a famous film, snowball fights, and so on.

The Art OF Association

With so many possible associations and a vast network of interconnected brain cells to act as a conduit for these linked thoughts, it is surely possible to find an association between any two sets of information. How would you link frog and snow together? A frog made of snow? A frog leaping through snow? A frog skiing? With just a little imagination the permutations of links are endless.

EXERCISE: Free Association

One at a time, say each of the following 10 words and immediately write down the first word or thought that pops into your head. There are no rules and no points to be scored. This is merely a way of limbering up for the Link Method by allowing your mind free range to think whatever it wants to think. Try not to deliberate for too long on any of the words. Your first associations will be the strongest and most significant.


The Link Method

The Link Method is a simple and effective method for memorizing any sequence of data, whether a shopping list, or a set of names, concepts, objects, directions, and so on. All that’s required is an unleashing of creative imagination. Mindtools has a great post on link and stort method.

How could you remember the four objects, hand, butter, magnet and atlas, in sequence using the Link Method? Imagine putting your hand into some butter. From inside the butter you pull out a sticky magnet. The magnet pulls itself and you toward a book, which happens to be an atlas. Now the four objects are memorable because you have forged a set of links between them all. You might also be interested in how to memorize numbers.

Exercise 1: Using the Link Method

Using your powers of creativity and association, memorize the following list of five words using the Link Method.


Allow your mind to go into “free flow” – that is, let your imagination work radiantly. You won’t need to fabricate links: just allow them to pop into your head. When you have made your links, compare them with mine below.

I throw a piece of rolled-up paper at a window. The window opens to reveal a snail. The snail is driving a car. In the back seat of the car is a guitar. This method mixes reality with a little fantasy. It doesn’t matter how my mind decided on these ideas. The important point is that they were my first thoughts and they have ensured I will remember those five objects in the correct order.

[ Also Read: How To Use Stories To Memorize Information ]

Exercise 2: Extending the Link Method

I suspect a list of five objects is too easy for you, so why not see how far you can stretch your memory by attempting to recall this list of 20 items. Allow yourself five minutes to form a chain of links between these words, and then see how many items you can recall in sequence before making a mistake.

TRUCK          COMPUTER        FLOWERS            SPIDER                    CHAIR
DICTIONARY         GARDEN          HOSE          CURTAIN        BASKET
CATAPULT             BALLOON              PLUMBER                 VOLCANO

Your imagination probably took you on an epic journey, leading you from a dungeon via a truck transporting a computer, then somehow to a catapult that fires at a balloon, and so on through to the final item on the list – a ski.

Score One point for each item you remembered in sequence.
Maximum points: 20 Untrained: 4+ Improver: 8+ Master: 18+
If you scored 14 or more, then you have created a highly effective chain of links

Sources And Citations :

Dominic O’Brian from peakperformance.org