Chapter ten in our text book briefly describes a way to use images to improve memory known as the method of loci. Mental visual images are placed at different locations in a spatial layout so that they may be retrieved at a later time by our memory (pg. 286). This was first discovered according to a legend about a Greek poet named Simonides. The legend states that after Simonides had given a speech at a banquet the roof collapsed leaving many people dead, and some of their bodies left unrecognizable. Because Simonides had created a mental picture of the audience and where they were seated he was able to determine who had been killed by mentally scanning the banquet hall and remembering where each person had been seated (pg. 286). He later realized this technique could be used to remember other things, if he mentally placed images at the seats surrounding the table, and then mentally scanned the table as he had done before (pg. 286).
I had mentioned in an earlier post about how I am a server and a bartender part time, a job where I use my memory quite a bit. Sometimes writing down everything a customer needs can be very time consuming, and in the fast paced environment that the restaurant is, many of us try to save time any way we can. Although I am not sure that I use the method of loci at work I believe it is something that could help me save time, especially while I am bartending. Many people come to sit at the bar to simply order one drink, rather than an entire meal, so it is easy to get an order without writing it down. I could use the method of loci by placing a visual image of the drink each person ordered in the seat they are seated in, and then by scanning the bar mentally I could remember what each person would like. I could also use this method if people ask me for things like to go containers, extra sauces, more napkins, etc. By placing a mental image of what each customer asked for I could mentally scan the bar in my mind while I go to the kitchen, and hopefully this would help me to remember every item needed.
I believe the method of loci is something I could use to improve my performance while at work. Although it is not something I would use to remember larger orders, or if someone has very specific instructions, as it is better to get the order right then save time. However, for smaller less meaningful tasks, such as drink refills, extra sauces, etc. I would likely make less trips back and forth from the kitchen. Not only would it save me time but the customers would receive things faster, it sounds like a win-win situation to me!
Goldstein, E. (2011). Cognitive psychology: Connecting mind, research, and everyday experience (3rd ed.). Australia: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.