In his seminal book, Atkinson critiques older theories of memory that encourage the practice of remembering people, places, events, and other relevant information using an artificial method. Artificial methods consist of memory tactics that are not ‘natural.’ For example, imagine yourself in a house and spreading the items around that house and then imagine walking around the house to recall the items. He argues these types of techniques are useless because they add an unnecessary burden to your mind. The solution is to use natural techniques for enhancing your memory such as noticing the details of an object (e.g., a person’s nose to remember their face) that are usually easily forgotten. Most importantly, you must make it a point to practice every day.
Atkinson encourages the reader to determine which sensory (sight or hearing) is the weakest and work on improving it. He provides strategies for improving your memory with names, faces, places, numbers, music, occurrences, facts, words, books, plays, and tales. The theme woven throughout these strategies is the importance of showing an interest in what you are learning so that you are more alert in noticing things that you have to remember. If you do not imprint it in your mind, then you will not remember it.
As a classic book, it is interesting to note that a lot of the concepts and strategies mentioned still hold true more than 100 years later. This book is a recommended read for those interested in studying the field of memory and cognition because it serves as the foundation for memory research and training.