What Makes a Good Location in the Method of Loci: Meaningfulness of Locations and Environmental Segregation Studied with Virtual Reality
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Method of Loci (MoL) is an efficient mnemonic strategy especially good for enhancing serial recall of auditorily presented material. MoL is traditionally used by imagining oneself on a familiar journey and associating to-be-remembered words or ideas with distinct locations on that journey. However, previous research has established that newly learned virtual environments are just as good as highly familiar environments. But much less is known about what makes a good location or an environment for the use of MoL. Immersive virtual reality (VR) headset was used in the experiment to study the characteristics of environments that affect the effectiveness of MoL. Two within-subject factors were varied: meaningfulness of locations (low - paint on the floor, high - furniture), environmental segregation (no segregation – 1 big room, with segregation – 6 small rooms). Results show that using furniture to mark locations improved memory performance. No effect of environmental segregation was found. Also, females did better than males in lenient scoring which is in line with previous research showing better object-location memory for females. Further research is required to see if the locations marked with paint on the floor are still better than controls without mnemonic training.