Introduction to Link Mnemonic
The Link mnemonic employ interactive visual imagery to assist recall of a series of items on a list. In this technique, each of the items in a list is visualized interacting with each of the adjacent items in the list. The method facilitates recall of the serial order in which a list of items was presented.
The Link mnemonic offers an alternative to the pegword mnemonic Opens in new window (e.g., “one is a bune”) technique of recalling a list of items. Each of a number of items to be recalled is linked in a series of overlapping images. The overlapping series of images associating pairs of items in a sequence act like interlocking links in a chain.
The method is employed in the following manner:
- Given a list of unrelated items, such as shopping list: e.g., batteries, nylons, toothpastes, etc.,
- form a visual image of the first two items;
- form an interactive visual image between the first two items, e.g., visualize a nylon stocking filled to gross proportions with hundreds of flashlight batteries;
- visualize the third item;
- create an interactive visual image between the second and third item, e.g., visualize nylon stockings being squeezed from toothpaste tubes;
- continue the procedure until overlapping interactive visual images have been formed between each item in the list and each preceding and subsequent item.
Unlike the pegword mnemonic Opens in new window strategy, where one can directly access any particular item in a list by recalling the pegword with which the item was associated, with a link mnemonic, a particular item can be accessed only when recall proceeds sequentially through the list. Thus, recall of the image of batteries stuffed into a nylon cues the image of nylons being squeezed from toothpaste tubes.
There is always a danger with this method that, if a link in the chain is broken, the remainder of the chain may be lost. This disadvantage is not found in the pegword mnemonic, as each item is coded individually.
Roediger (1980) suggested a simple procedure designed to insure that the first item in a list is not forgotten. He suggested that rather than starting the chain with an interactive image between the first two items in a list, one should link the first item in the list with an object commonly found in the environment. This method provides a means of establishing the primary associative link.
In addition, the pegword strategy automatically codes the numerical order of each item. Although the numerical order of items may also be obtained, when a linking strategy has been used, decoding is less direct and is usually more difficult than is the case when a pegword strategy has been employed.