Last week we have seen how the European rhetoricians followed the E.N.A.P. principle and thus guaranteed the presentation to be a convincing, captivating and memorable experience. Today, in our final Mnemonics blog of this multi-blog series we will focus on Illuminate Learning and how the power of imagination is a significant facet of memory.

The clearly organised presentation of a lesson ought to provide a structure that works as a mnemonic in itself. Where facts and figures drift apart in isolated bits of information, it will soon be forgotten simply because it is missing the appropriate framework. Which framework results in the best possible learning outcome? How do the lessons have to be structured in order to guarantee an interruption-free level of maximum attention in learners? The answers to these questions directed us in designing a learning environment that contains the integral networking of the entire study programme as a coherent whole.

Topography of Learning

In correspondence with the ancient Art of Memory, our research experience in neuroscience and valuable insights into the psychology of learning, we can provide with our Mnemocity an effective topography of learning. The internal structure we have given to each presentation unit follows the E.N.A.P. principle with its four main sections. Each of the four sections in turn contains several topoi, in which the subject matter is grouped and organised. These topoi (Greek ‘places’ or Latin ‘loci’) serve as mnemonic storage spaces so that later, when one returns to them, the information within each space resurfaces to memory.

Illuminate Learning

A significant facet of memory is the power of imagination that allows the learner to conceive of and realise a strong mnemonic link between the facts and the hints of their recollection. Yet the costs involved in setting up such links by oneself are considerably high and time-consuming. Luckily, the internal structure of our topoi are wired to take over this job. Here, we work with a mnemonic strategy, which amongst others was used in medieval book illustration.

The Elements

In the updated, contemporary version, we created a system of initials, emblems, lemmas and explications to form a learner-friendly study programme to illuminate learning. The powerful mnemonic effect of such an illustration technique is produced by a smart combination of pictorial and textual, graphic and emblematic elements which interwoven into a coherent whole equally stimulate the visual and the discursive brain areas. This results in the information easily being stored in a person’s long time memory – this is how we “illuminate learning”.

The Element Initial: Drafted by graphic design specialists, the Initials combine capital letters with an interplay of lines and space. The ornamental texture of the patterns, designs and colors are evocative of architectonic facades. These iconic drawn capital letters serve the purpose of a gate-like entrance into the subject that follows under each sign.


Salzburg Urstein Institut-Initials- Master Programme Creating

Draft of the Initial E for the master programme Environmental Management and Sustainability. Image: ©PunktFormStrich.

The Element Lemma: The Lemma is a headword, a catchy phrase of two or three words that summarise the topic in a condensed manner. The mnemonic force of a Lemma is increased when it is given an enigmatic or even abstruse sense, for instance: “Money hurts”. The strong associative stimulation of this Lemma is certain to evoke your imagination.

The Element Emblem: The emblematic picture of the figurine with a British one-pound note in her hands puts the topic into an image and thereby stimulates visual brain activity. Together, the Lemma and the Emblem create a strong associative notion of ‘money’, forming a tangible unit of picture and word that involves both visual and conceptual stimuli.

The Element Explication: Finally, the Explication tells us the whole story. To stay with the previous example, it could be the story of Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice”, where a money lender is going to cut out one pound of flesh from the debtor’s living body if a borrowed amount of money is not paid back in due time. In this case, the Emblem of the figurine and the Lemma “Money hurts” really start to make sense and perform their task of connecting the given explication with a strong mnemonic link.

The Key

This whole complex of Lemma-Emblem-Explication as described above is the introduction (remember: exordium in E.N.A.P.) to the larger topic of economic warfare and financial services as a weapon. The key is that the Lemma-Emblem-Explication structure can work in every medium. It can appear in a book, on a screen or simply in an oral conversation with a professor. The main thing is that it is up there in your mind, triggering all the various features of your learning capability. Later, when revisiting this topoi within ones imagination, one will remember the Emblem of the figurine with the Lemma written underneath, prompting the memory of the merchants predicament in Shakespeare’s play. This is how the Art of Memory works.


In the past weeks, you learned about Quintilian’s meaning for “the treasury of eloquence” as well as learned about Simonides’ legendary creation of the art of memory – highlighting its relations with architecture and rhetoric. MNEMONICS VI and VII present E.N.A.P, a structure of study. This structure plays a major role in our unparalleled approach to memory and education. With our final post, we discuss how to illuminate learning with the support of simple, but to-the-point technology.

We cordially invite you to check back soon and see how we strive to translate the antique ‘art of memorising’ into the digital age. Sign up for our newsletter – and we’ll be happy to keep you up to date!

MNEMONICS I: Introducing the first multi-blog series on Mnemonics

MNEMONICS II: The Mnemocity

MNEMONICS III: Focus on Memory – Treasury of Eloquence

MNEMONICS IV: The Art of Memory

MNEMONICS V: Memory and Architecture

MNEMONICS VI: E.N.A.P. – The Art of Learning

MNEMONICS VII: E.N.A.P. – The Art of Speaking 

MNEMONICS VIII: Illuminate Learning