As a former, self-described “average pupil” who suffered from dyslexia and ADD, Dominic O’Brien went on to win the World Memory Championships eight times. Accomplishments like these are anything but average.
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 and the development of new systems that have inspired thousands of people around the world to use their minds to accomplish amazing feats of memory through O’Brien’s training programs and books. Like Tony Buzan, O’Brien is a major innovator in the field of memory techniques and studying his trainings will put anyone interested in memory improvement in good stead.
Of the many techniques O’Brien teaches, those that feature the most prominently include:
The Link Method
The Major System
The Memory Palace
The Journey Method
The 100 List
The Alphabet List
These memory techniques can be applied in many ways. Beyond a general improvement in memory using mnemonics, these systems enable people to better:
Memorize Lists of Information
Memorize Playing Cards
Memorize Calendar dates …
… and the techniques tackle other forms of memory problems as well, including concentration and focus, two key skills needed for memorizing information in the first place. As Harry Lorayne puts it so well, you cannot remember information to which you haven’t consciously paid thorough attention.
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
O’Brien’s finest memory trainings is called Quantum Memory Power. It is especially good because it features O’Brien himself presenting the techniques in his own voice. You get to hear the passion, conviction and expertise from the man himself and not only use the exercises to boost your brain power, but take inspiration from the master as well.
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 the best for long numbers.
Sa to zero
Da or Ta to one
Na to two
Ma to three
Ra to four
La to five
Cha, jha or sha to six
Ka to seven
Fa or Va to eight
Pa to nine …
… 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. Thus, 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).
By contrast, the Major System 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. But such an image is difficult to exaggerate and turn into something that can act on the next image in the sequence.
For this reason, 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:
About the author:
Anthony Metivier is the founder of the Magnetic Memory Method, a systematic, 21st Century approach to memorizing foreign language vocabulary, dreams, names, music, poetry and much more in ways that are easy, elegant, effective and fun.