Master of Memory Dominic O’Brien

Portrait of memory improvement author and memory expert Dominic O'BrienAs a former, self-described “average pupil” who suffered from dyslexia and ADD, Dominic O’Brien didn’t let these conditions hold him back.

In fact, he went on to win the World Memory Championships eight times!

Memory improvement accomplishments like these are anything but average.

In fact, once of the most exciting advancements is named after this man. It’s called The Dominic System.

O’Brien’s inspiration came from seeing Creighton Carvello memorize a deck of cards on a BBC program called Record Breakers.

This experience started a long fascination with memory techniques.

As a result, Dominic developed new mnemonic systems that have inspired thousands of people around the world to use their minds to accomplish amazing feats of memory of their own.

As a memory expert, O’Brien has reaching people primarily through his training programs and books.

Like Tony Buzan, O’Brien is a major innovator in the field of memory techniques. Studying his trainings will put anyone interested in memory improvement in good stead.

As will this FREE Memory Improvement Kit with instructional videos:

Free Memory Improvement Course and Memory Palace Kit

Of the many techniques O’Brien teaches, those that feature the most prominently include:

These memory techniques can be applied in many ways. They can also be combined in a variety of ways, such as by numbering a Memory Palace to give yourself a “hook” or “peg” at each station.

Beyond a general improvement in memory using mnemonics, these systems enable people to improve how they:

… and the memory techniques tackle other forms of memory problems as well.

In fact, the benefits of this kind of memory training include concentration and focus. The are two key skills needed for memorizing information in the first place.

Many of these memory skills also involve numbers. If you need help with that skill, these 3 Most Powerful Technique For Memorizing Numbers dive deep into the matter.

But back to concentration, as Harry Lorayne puts it so well:

You cannot remember information to which you haven’t consciously paid thorough attention.

Dominic O’Brien And The Rule Of Five



One of Dominic O’Brien’s greatest contributions to the world of memory is his Rule of Five. It states that we should recall information strategically by using the following pattern:

First review: Immediately
Second review: 24 hours later
Third review: One week later
Fourth review: One month later
Fifth review: Three months later

Personally, I prefer more robust patters. That’s why I use a process called Recall Rehearsal.

Quantum Memory Power

O’Brien’s finest memory trainings is called Quantum Memory Power.

Cover art of Quantum Memory Power by Dominic O'Brien

This memory improvement course is especially good. Here’s one major reason why:

Quantum Memory Power features O’Brien himself presenting the techniques in his own voice.

You get to hear the passion, conviction and expertise from the man himself. That way, you get to use the exercises to boost your brain power, and take inspiration from the master as well.

The program also includes exercises based on information that add to your mental life. He goes beyond silly memory exercises like shopping lists.


The Dominic System


Another hallmark of O’Brien’s legacy in the world of memory is the Dominic System. It is primarily used for memorizing long sequences of digits and was invented for use in competition.

The Dominic System differs from the Major System in many ways.

The Major System is a means of associating sounds with numbers and can be quite restrictive for memorizing numbers.

I personally find the Major System great for memorizing cards and very short sequences of numbers, but the Dominic System is considered the best by many for long numbers.

This preference may have developed because the Major System simply attaches numbers to sounds like this:

Major System on the Magnetic Memory Method

For more on memorizing numbers, check out my Get Good At Remembering Numbers playlist on YouTube:


What Is The Dominic PAO Memory System?


The Dominic system is a PAO or Person-Action System. Thus, the number one is assigned to the letter A, then number 5 to the letter E and so forth.

Using this PAO approach, to memorize the number 12, you would see Al Bundy or someone whose name has the initials AB.

You would then see Al Bundy acting upon the next person in the number chain. For example, Al Gore (the number 17).

To recall 1217, you would see Al Bundy acting upon Al Gore in a novel and memorable way. (I’m bending the actual Dominic system here, so to see how it is normally used in practice, check it out on Wikipedia).

How Does The Dominic Method Differ From The Major System?


By contrast, the Major System (or Major Method) is typically best for creating objects and nonsense words that can be difficult to translate back into numbers.

For example, 12 would be something like “tin,” which is not nearly as easy to make memorable as Al Bundy.

84 could make a word like “fire,” meaning that 1284 could be a tin can on fire.

Or, to be more specific than fire, you might use something like the character from Missing in Action 2. If you’ve seen the movie, there’s a character who burns down a bridge with a flamethrower.

Even if you haven’t seen the film, here’s the point:

Your brain will likely respond to this level of specificity much better. Choose characters to associate with numbers based on deep familiarity.

Yes, this outcome of having 00-99 covered with richly personal characters might take some time and effort. But it will be well worth it and save you tons of lost time and struggle when you want to remember numbers.

The Ultimate Truth About Using A PAO (Person Action Object) System

To put it simply:

If your mnemonic imagery is bland and difficult to exaggerate, you will struggle.

It’s very difficult to have an abstract idea interact with another image in a sequence. “A cloud fights with a hammer” is not nearly as memorable as Neo from The Matrix fights with Abraham Lincoln.

When you use specific figures, you can visualize them better. For a few more considerations related to creating mental pictures with memory techniques, please learn and use these visualization exercises.

Because O’Brien also stresses specificity in choosing your characters, Dominic’s system has been a godsend for many who seek to memorize long strings of numbers.

For assistance in coming up with your own characters to use to memorize numbers, check out this neat online application for building a personal Mnemonic Dominic Number Memory System.

For more information on Dominic O’Brien’s memory techniques, check out some of his books on Amazon:

You Can Have An Amazing Memory: Learn Life-Changing Techniques and Tips From the Memory Maestro

How to Develop a Brilliant Memory Week by Week: 52 Proven Ways to Enhance Your Memory Skills

Quantum Memory Power

Further Reading:

Wired Article on How to Become a Memory Champion in Ten Steps

Wikipedia article on Dominic O’Brien

Magnetic Memory Method Resources Page

Faster to Master’s intense book summary of How to Develop a Perfect Memory


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  • Recite poetry, jokes, and even long speeches word-for-word
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Anthony Metivier is the founder of the Magnetic Memory Method, a systematic, 21st century approach to memorizing foreign language vocabulary, names, music, poetry and more in ways that are easy, elegant, effective and fun.

Dr. Metivier holds a Ph.D. in Humanities from York University and has been featured in Forbes, Viva Magazine, Fluent in 3 Months, Daily Stoic, Learning How to Learn and he has delivered one of the most popular TEDx Talks on memory improvement.

His most popular books include, The Victorious Mind and… Read More

Anthony Metivier taught as a professor at: