Memory – Encoding – The Peg System

Friday, March 14th, 2008 at 5:51 pm.
by pre.

If we ask you to remember the phone number 0800362633, you will likely have difficulty. However, if we ask you to remember the phone number 0800-ENCODE, you will find that task much easier, even though if you examine the keys on your phone you’ll see this is the very same number.

This is because human brains can ‘chunk’ information, remembering “ENCODE” is just one memory chunk, whereas remembering 362633 is six! Remembering “ENCODE” is six times easier than remembering the number’s digits.

This proves that you can remember numbers more easily if you encode them differently, turn them into words.

However, the keys as laid out on a phone keypad aren’t terribly useful for remembering arbitrary numbers. Often it will be difficult to find a word to associate with a given number. You may have a word of all consonants or other impossible combinations of letters. So instead of using the phone keypad, we associate each digit with a consonant, and allow arbitrary vowels to be added between them.

List Of Digits

Each digit will be associated with a letter, and to help you remember the associations you will imagine a rich semantic image, full of associations, for each digit too.

Zero – Z – Oz, the wizard

Picking Z for the number zero is an obvious choice, the number zero begins with that letter. We chose the Wizard Of Oz as an image to invoke this association because Oz actually begins with what looks like a 0.

One – L – eel

The number one is associated with the letter L, because the written digit “1″ looks similar to the letter “l” and the aim is to be able to read the numbers as letters just as quickly and easily as we read them as digits. We pick the image of a wriggling Eel because the world eel contains only vowels with the desired letter, so it’s hard to get confused and read the wrong number. Plus, if you straighten out an eel, you can form the digit 1 with it.

Two – N – Noah of Ark

We pick Noah, of ark fame, to represent the number N which we associate with the number two. N looks a bit like a 2 tipped on it’s side, and Noah is an evocative image who’s name contains no other letters used in our peg system.

Three – M – Moo, cow

The third digit is associated with the letter “M”, again because if tipped onto it’s side it resembles that digit. The word “Moo” contains nothing but this letter and vowels, so we imagine a cow making it’s characteristic noise.

Four – R – Ra, the sun-god

The letter “R” is the last letter of the word “Four”, and thus we chose it for that digit in our peg system. The name of Egyptian Sun God “Ra” contains nothing but this letter and a vowel, so we chose that name to associate with the number four to remind us of that number.

Five – V – Eve

The letter V is the Roman numeral for Five, and is also the third letter of the word. It is thus a sensible choice to associate with that number. Eve, dressed in her fig-leaf, is a suitable image for remembering the association because, again, we need add only vowels to produce her name.

Six – B – Baa, sheep

The digit 6, if you straighten out it’s slumped back, looks much like the letter “b”. Thus we add a couple of vowels to the letter to get the word “Baa”, associating a noisy sheep with the digit.

Seven – T – Cup of tea

If you rush writing the letter T, it can end up looking like the digit 7. So we associate 7 and T together. As a vivid image to remember this association we pick a cup of tea, again only adding vowels to the letter to avoid confusion, and of course noting the exact resemblance of the phonemes.

Eight – S – Shoe

An “S” turns to an 8 just by allowing the ends to grow towards each other, so we pick the consonant “s” to associate with the number eight and use a Shoe as an image to build further semantic associations.

Nine – G – Goo

Finally, a “9″ looks a lot like the letter “g”, so we associate those two glyphs together. Adding only vowels as is our convention we can enrich these associations by imagining that the letter is impressed on a pool of green slimy goo.


The number 345789 will be read as mrvtsg, and then expanded by adding vowels to be MR VeT SaG. We will use visualisation techniques to imagine a veterinary surgeon sagging as he ages: MR VeT SaG. This should usually be enough for us to recreate the number later by going backwards, writing a number for each consonant in the string.


Unfortunately, in learning a skill like this there is no real substitute for practice. We can help to put the associations in your head with our guided meditiaons, we can encourage you to want to practice during those files too, make the suggestions which encourage you to do so. But until you have coded and decoded a few hundred numbers you will simply not learn to use the Peg System as a new sense, to be able to read numbers as words as easily as you can read these words as words. Doing this should be the aim.

This weeks mp3

We use The Loci System to program your brain to associate each digit with the consonant as detailed above. You will associate each digit with a letter by placing things that begin with that letter in the corresponding loci in your route.


The background music this month was written by Chemica Solutions especially for the Transcendence Institute, we supply it alongside our guided meditation to encourage you to record your own voice-overs if you desire: