Tag Archives: Dominic O’Brien

Dominic O’Brien: Eight Time World Memory Champion

20 Sep

Here is a video of Dominic O’Brien memorizing a deck of cards and talking a bit about his career.

Of the popular memory improvement books, I think O’Brien’s are among the best.

How to remember students’ names

28 Apr

My wife’s twin sister, Kathy, is a teacher and she sent me the following email:

“In your blog did you mention Ronnie White’s technique to remember names? or did I just stumble upon it when I was looking at the post about Dominic O’Brien. I can’t seem to find his name when I search your blog.

I wanted to make a comment on your blog at how effective this is for classroom management for a substitute. I try to use his technique when I sub in the classroom. I am not quite perfect at it but it helps so much for a substitute to know the students’ names. I usually only have a very short time to do this but it is worth the 5 minutes at the beginning of the day. First graders LOVES it! If I can go around and call them by name they just think that is great. I reinforce their name in my memory by calling them by name everytime I hand something to a student or ask a student to do something. Before this I was just stumbling around with hey you.

I don’t have this luxury with highschool or junior high because those students won’t give me the 5 minutes I need and the classes are constantly changing, but if I am going to be with a class an entire day it really makes a difference.”


I would also reccomend Harry Lorayne’s Remembering people: The key to success available on Amazon for only one cent!

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Dominic O’Brien explains his memory techniques

23 Feb

There are many good popular books on mnemonic techniques, of these, I think Dominic O’Brien’s are the best. Here is a talk where he explains some of these methods.



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Expert memory

22 Jun

We have a box at the Chautauqua Post Office.


And here is our Post Office Box


We live just outside of Cleveland and there is a ten month gap between our visits to the Institution. so remembering information over that gap is a problem. How do you remember the number of a Post Office box that you only need to know during the summer?

I am able to remember the box number 1239 using the D.O.M.O.N.I.C mnemonic system invented by Dominic O’Brien. This system assigns letters to each of the numbers zero to nine. Then every pair of numbers is remembered as the initials of some memorable person. For example, the system assigns the letter “C” to the number 3 you might remember the number combination 33 as Chelsea Clinton.

In the case of my P.O. box I use Annie Bessant (12) and Carrie Nation (39). The people you choose should be memorable to you, and everyone’s list will be different.

I use a similar to mnemonic to remember the box’s combination, but I think it might be unwise to share it on the Internet.

However, the most interesting memory story I have from my visit to the Post Office is that the mail clerk, who hasn’t seen me for ten months and handles thousands of pieces of mail for thousands of customers, remembered my last name.

I believe that this is a case of expert memory, people have better memory for areas in which they have deep experience. For example, cocktail waitresses have better memory for drink orders than matched controls. Actors have superior memory for learning dialog. Chess experts are better at remembering chess positions and mail clerks may have better memory for the names of patrons.

When you develop and expertise in an area you build a deep knowledge of that subject or activity. In turn, your deep knowledge makes its easier for you to learn new material; as your knowledge grows you have more opportunities to associate new information to your expanding knowledge base.

This suggests that the more you know the easier it is to learn new material. This observation has important consequences for memory improvement.

Memory Myth #1: “I have a terrible memory.”

19 Jun

You probably don’t. Unless you suffer from some memory disorder, such as amnesia, you most likely have an ordinary memory that can be used more effectively.

We usually have a very positive view of ourselves. When asked to compare themselves with others on such desirable traits as intelligence, generosity, or leadership skills, most people rate themselves as above average; a mathematical impossibility. There is even a name for this very human trait. It is called flawed self-assessment.

Athletic performance and memory are the exceptions. Most of us know we are not star athletes and most of us believe that we have poor memories. Perhaps this anomaly is caused by the nature of the feedback the world provides. Our friends loathe to set us straight about our generosity. They may feel it impolite to relate their true feelings about our intelligence. Athletic and memory feedback, however, come to us more directly. If we start the race thinking we can finish first, our expectation will soon be confirmed or disproved. Similarly, a memory failure can be direct, immediate, often visible to all, and, sometimes, deeply embarrassing . More over, as we get older, memory failure stirs up deep fears of mental frailty and impending senility.

I have good news. it is unlikely that you have a poor memory, rather you have a memory that can be improved. As you read through the better books on memory improvement, the authors will often tell you that they have quite ordinary powers of recall. Here is Dominic O’Brien making speaking about his memory:

I do not believe that this false modesty. Most of us can improve our memories with the application of well validated techniques. These techniques include mnemonic strategies, improved attention, and spaced repetition learning.

Stay tuned to this blog: all these techniques will be discussed in detail.

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