Method-Of-Loci as a Tool for Depression.



Depression is tough, especially when it comes to thinking positively – a crucial part of dealing with issues and problems life may throw at you. But new research has highlighted a memory strategy to improve this, and to help those suffering from depression to remember positive day-to-day experiences.


One of the symptoms of depression is problems with mood. Mood swings are likely, and patients often suffer low mood during the day. Previous research has show that the ability to recall detailed positive memories can give patients a mood boost – but their ability to do this has been lessened by their disorder.

Now researchers, such as Tim Dalgleish of the Medical Research Council and Brain Science Unit, are suggesting the method-of-loci strategy to help people with depression recall positive memories from their past.

This method involves making detailed associations between physical objects, or location, and the things you intend to remember. One friend of mine used this technique to remember her psychology notes for her A Level exams. She took an imaginary walk around her house, and attached key points and key studies for the topics to different places and objects in her house. This proved very effective, as she ended up with an A overall – suggesting that this strategy is a useful method in many areas of memory.

A recent study asked patients with depression to recall 15 positive memories for their lives; one group was asked to use the method-of-loci technique to make associations between these memories and every day things, whereas the control group was asked to simply “rehearse” these memories. After practice, they were asked to recall as many of these memories as they could. In the lab, after forming the memories, both techniques seemed equally effective, however after a week they showed some differences.

After a surprise phone-call from the researchers, participants were again asked to recall their 15 memories. Those who were asked to use the method-of-loci technique were able to recall significantly more of their memories than those who just rehearsed their memories.

This suggests that using the method-of-loci could help those with depression to recall positive events from their past, which could help to increase their mood and deal with every day tasks.

Use in real life.

The method-of-loci has many uses, but one of the most memorable is its use by Lu Chao in 2006. He managed to recall the value of pi to 67,890 places – this took him 24 hours and 4 minutes, until he made a mistake.

It can also be effective in creating a “memory palace” of positive memories to use in times of low mood. And the more bizarre you make your associations, the more likely you are to remember them.

So how will you use this technique in your life?


Written by: Philippa Berry

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Published on: 27th February 2013

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Published on: 27th February 2013

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