In elementary school, we memorized things like “ROYGBIV” to remember the sequence of colors in the rainbow, or “Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally (PEMDAS)” for math. These mnemonics aren’t just for kids, though. It turns out that they’re highly effective memory hacks that help our brains visualize and memorize things more easily.
Memories are basically stores of information in certain parts of our brains, which are recalled when we need them. At first, it may seem that mnemonics may make memorizing things more complicated, as you have to remember two new sets of information: a weird sentence/acronym, plus the actual information. But recalling information, it turns out, is much easier when it’s somehow connected to other information that we know — which is why mnemonics make it easier to trigger those memories.
There are a variety of different memory hacks you can employ to help you store information. There’s the keyword method, which helps people learn words in new languages by connecting foreign sounds to a word in your native language (for example, linking the Spanish word for dog, “perro” to the English word “pear,” you’ll imagine a dog with a pear. This creates a strong visual image in your mind, which helps recall the new foreign word. You can even use the “method of loci,” which involves creating a “mental palace” that you walk through, containing symbols or images that help you remember steps.