Mnemotechnics – make an easy PAO

Memory techniques function using the principle that humans remember places, people, funny and sexual images better than numbers and words. This makes a lot of sense from an evolutionary perspective: we had to be able to remember places lest we got lost and we had to be able to remember people in order to differentiate between friends and foes. Our visual memory is good because we had to be able to remember how edible and poisonous plants look like. Those who couldn’t remember such things were more likely to die and not reproduce.

The whole point of memory techniques is using what we’re good at so we can remember what we’re not good at, for example, instead using numbers, change them into images, and then place these images into so called palaces (loci).

PAO is short for Person – Action – Object. That means that one concept is to be translated into an image of a person doing an action with/on/to an object. For example, the number 6 might mean dad – kicking – guitar. When you need to remember the number 6, you just remember your dad kicking a guitar, and put that image into a palace (locus). If you have more numbers then you take the person from the first number, action from the second and object from the third.

I use a very simple PAO system using characters from One Piece:

0 – Luffy eating meat
1 – Zoro lifting weights2 – Nami drawing a map
3 – Usopp running from a giant
4 – Sanji smoking a cigarette
5 – Vivi riding Karue
6 – Robin reading a book
7 – Chopper mixing plants
8 – Franky drinking Cola
9 – Brook playing the violin

For example, I would remember a number such as 801: Franky eating weights. That’s a more lasting image than 801. Then you take that image and put it into your locus, some place you know well and can walk around in your mind. That’s it. Use your own persons, actions and objects, use something you know well or can imagine well.

Now go make your PAO and go practice remembering licence plates.

And do some handstands.


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