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Aquinas’ Plan for Perfecting Memory Skills

Thomas Aquinas –

“There are four things whereby a man perfects his memory.”

“First, when a man wishes to remember a thing, he should take some suitable yet unwonted (unusual) illustration of it, since the unwonted strikes us more, and so makes a greater and stronger impression on the mind.

Secondly, whatever a man wishes to retain in his memory he must carefully consider to put in order, so that he may pass easily from one memory to another.

Thirdly, we must be anxious and earnest about the things we wish to remember, because the more a thing is impressed on the mind, the less it is liable to slip out of it.

Fourthly, we should often reflect on the things we wish to remember… wherefore when we reflect on a thing frequently,we quickly call it to mind, through passing from one thing to another by a kind of natural order.”

Which, translated means:

1) Make weird, but G-rated mental pictures of what you want to remember – it will stay in there better.

2) Put the pictures in order so one memory item flows logically to the next.

3) Put in some good mental effort. Work hard to really impress it in your mind.

4) Review often. Review cuts down on recall time.

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