2015 Australian Memory Championships

I mentioned in my post about TEDxSydney (all the way back in July) that I was working on some exciting projects. It’s now my great pleasure to be able to share these with you.

The first of these projects you may have already seen: In August we launched the AoM Schools project with the aim of collecting data on the effects of the techniques of the Art of Memory on academic outcomes. This pilot program began with the training of a select group of school teachers in Darwin and is now underway. I’ll be posting updates on this project in a dedicated section of this website which you can find here.

I am also proud to announce the launch of my new brand, Mental Athlete. Mental Athlete is a lifestyle brand for the brain.

The Mental Athlete lifestyle is one which seeks to leverage evidence-based strategies to enhance cognitive performance. It is about giving people scientifically proven strategies to help them do whatever they want to faster, better and for longer.

We are all Mental Athletes but what that means is different for different people. For one person, it might mean being able to ace a test at school, or to be more creative in front of an easel. For another, that might mean having energy to play with the kids after a long day at work, or to finally have the tools and confidence to tackle a bucket list item like learning another language.

In addition, Mental Athlete is a community dedicated to raising levels of scientific literacy and standards of evidence but in a way which is grounded in useful, applicable technology.

Our website is still under construction but you can sign up to receive notifications about our launch here: http://mentalathlete.com.au/

But that isn’t all…

Mental Athlete is also the official sponsor of the 2015 Australian Memory Championship!

The 2015 Australian Open Memory Championship powered by Optimem draws competitors from all over the country to compete to be named as having the best memory in Australia.

The 2015 Championship will be held 7 & 8th of November in Melbourne at RMIT University.

As an ‘Open’ national competition the event is open to memory athletes from anywhere in the world.

The competition includes memorizing in ten events:

  1. Names and Faces
  2. Binary Numbers
  3. Random Numbers
  4. Abstract Images
  5. Speed Numbers
  6. Historic / Future Dates
  7. Playing Cards
  8. Random Words
  9. Spoken Numbers
  10. Speed Cards

The Australian Memory Championships is about recalibrating our understanding of human potential. In line with that mission, this year, in conjunction with the championships, we are running a conference on mental training and the brain.

This event will showcase the talents of some of the world’s most impressive mental athletes, as well as those of some of the country’s leading brain researchers.

The conference will be open to the public.

All funds raised through ticket sales and on the day will be donated to Alzheimer’s Australia.

For more information about the AMC or our associated conference please go to the Australian Memory Championships website here:


The 7th and 8th are going to be a day to remember. I encourage all of you to join us for what is sure to be a very exciting event.


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AoM story from the Northern Territory News

In 2015 we launched the AoM Schools project with the aim of collecting data on the effects of the techniques of the Art of Memory on academic outcomes. This pilot program began with the training of a select group of school teachers in Darwin, Australia and will encompass a number of different research projects. The story was covered by the NT News (among others) and can be read below. More information on the research project can be found here.IMG_3712

Smart drugs I The Feed Forum feat. Daniel Kilov

Should we take a drug that improves our memory, makes us more alert, or actually smarter? Australian researchers are trying to find out just how many students and workers are using prescription ADHD pills, sleep drugs and beta blockers for purposes other than prescribed.

Meet a young professional who faked ADHD symptoms to get a Ritalin prescription (and, she says, two promotions), a philosopher who once took narcolepsy drugs, a former Mr Universe who admits to steroid use, and a “mental athlete” who hated the ADD prescription he was forced to take as a teen but now sees enormous potential in the drugs.

TEDxSydney memory tutorials


Hi everyone. I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything but that’s because I’ve been busy with some very exciting projects. I’ll have more to share on these very soon but in the meanwhile, here is some footage from my involvement in the 2015 TEDxSydney event, along with illustrated tutorials on the Method of Loci and the Substitute Word Method. I teamed up with the Post-it brand to put on some workshops and to deliver a live demonstration of memory techniques at the Sydney opera house.

If you find these interesting and want to dig a little deeper, I discuss in greater details how to combine these two techniques for foreign language learning here.

One final note: If you haven’t done so already, please be sure to follow me on my new public Facebook page here for almost daily material on improving memory and creativity. I can also be found on Twitter at @DanielKilov

Tutorial 1: The Method of Loci


Tutorial 2: The Substitute Word Method


A manifesto for memory

This article was written by Kathy Graham and originally published on the Happy + Well blog here under the title “The art of memory”.

images3I don’t remember a lot of things. I have a shelf full of books I’ve read that I could easily read again and experience as if I was picking them up for the first time. I can look at old diaries and find it incredible that I have no recollection of many of the events I’ve described that once clearly had a big impact on me. I can spend a week or two researching to death a topic that I have to write about and then once the piece is published, forget it entirely.

In other words, I have a crap memory though I would love dearly to change this state of affairs. Hence I’m very interested in hearing about any techniques that might help me do this, including those described here by accomplished memory athlete Daniel Kilov, who presented at our Mind & Its Potential conference.

But Kilov wasn’t always a star at remembering stuff. He says that at school, his teachers despaired of his sieve-like mind. Now, though, they wouldn’t recognise their former student. In 2011, Kilov competed in the World Memory Championships and secured second place behind his coach and mentor Tansel Ali, as well as broke the Australian record for the abstract images event, having memorised the order of 99 abstract shapes. He says this was only after a few months of practice, and convinced him of the power of what he describes as “a small set of very simple techniques.”

Kilov says that when he tells people he’s a memory athlete, many wonder why he bothers given it’s so easy in today’s world to retrieve whatever information we want by clicking on Google or Wikipedia. He believes their question goes to the “heart of the conception we have of memory and of the relationship that we think it has to learning”, a conception that’s formed when we’re at school and asked to memorise through boring repetition. “It’s a conception of memory as being a dull, impersonal and ineffective parroting,” he says.

His preferred conception of memory is that it’s creative, personal, fun and highly effective. Moreover, he espouses the value of memory techniques as a potential revolution in education. Not that this would be the first time excellent recall skills have enjoyed high status in academia. As a matter of historical fact, the art of memory has its origins in ancient Greece where, says Kilov, it was practiced universally by the great thinkers of the time who “recognised that creativity, focus and critical analysis were the kinds of things that could only happen in the minds of well-trained mnemonics.”

Kilov explains that such techniques, for example, the use of imagination to create links and associations, continued to be used right up until the time of the Renaissance “where they formed a cornerstone of the education system and were taught alongside grammar, rhetoric and logic. In fact, it was only with the Protestant Reformation that the art of memory was driven underground and replaced with the kinds of rote methods of memorisation that we know today.”

The good news is these techniques can be easily resurrected for use in the 21st century. Kilov says, “I think it’s time for the art of memory to make a return to our classrooms. Of course, learning isn’t just about memorising. It’s about being able to retrieve information, to critically assess it, to analyse it and to synthesise it. But none of these things can occur unless you have that information at your fingertips, unless you can see how it fits into a bigger picture and that can’t be done unless that information is stored in your memory.”

From the Archives: Daniel Kilov and Tansel Ali on ABC’s HUNGRY BEAST

Many of you enjoyed my interview with Tansel Ali, the 3x Australian Memory Champion and human phone book. Did you know that Tansel and I have been good friends for many years? In fact, it was Tansel who first taught me memory techniques. Below is a clip from back when I’d only just started training with Tansel. Enjoy!