If you read my blog, then you might know that I have declared 2018 “The Year of the Mind.” I’ve been learning some memory tips. Using some of these tips, I’m going to teach you the bones of the skull. This is an exercise for memory. It may not mean much for you but if you do any kind of body work, anatomy is important. I don’t want you to do it through rote memorization. We’re going to do this in a faster, more effortless way.

I’m assuming that you don’t know all of these. I’m going to mention them and I want you to remember as many as you can afterwards. So, here’s the bones I want you to remember:

1. Parietals

2. Temporals

3. Zygomas

4. Maxillas

5. Nasal Bones

6. Lacrimal Bones

7. Palatines

8. Inferior Conchae

9. Frontal

10. Occipital

11. Sphenoid

12. Ethmoid

13. Vomer

14. Mandible

15. Hyoid

Now take a moment and recall as many as you can. How many did you get?

Now, I want you to relax and listen to this story and imagine these things as vividly as you can as I describe them.

Imagine that you and a friend are going to the Top party of the year. The party will be happening at two Temples. You can see the temples bouncing from the music. Just as you’re arriving and about to go in, you’re mom grabs your cheek. You sigh because you’ve been caught.

Right as you’re leaving this maximum sized Godzilla comes out of a temple and grabs both you and your friend. It startles you so much that champagne that you were drinking squirts out of your nose.

You may not have ever had champagne squirt out of your nose, but the bubbles and the irritation make you start tearing or lacrimating.

Godzilla takes you and your friend to this dark cave and places you both on a plate. It’s dark and you need to see to escape. You both have infrared contacts that let you see in the dark. You feel this windy draft as you put them on.

You and your friend put them on and you start running out of the labyrinth, but as you start running out, you bonk the front of your forehead on a rock on your way out and you pass out. When you wake up, you’re suddenly on your own..

Going through this maze, you manage to make it outside. You run into the strangest thing, a talking Ox. You ask him if he saw your friend run out.

“No, but I saw the strangest thing,” says the ox, “I saw a deep sink hole in the ground blocking the path out and this Sphere or ball with wings bounced out from where you came from and fell into the void.”

You’re wanting to get out to get back to the party, but it’s going to take Effort to jump over that void. You jump and you just manage to clear the sinkhole void.

As you’re getting back to the temple, you see a monk. He gives you a “V” with his hand like in Star Trek and chants “Vommmm” that sounds nasally.

Going into the temple, you run into a man named “Mandy” with a big chin. Mandy is standing on your friend’s shoulders. He’s excited to see you as says “Hi.” You are reunited with your friend at last.

Ok, that’s it. That’s the end of the story. You may be wondering what that was thinking you just wasted your time. Without knowing it, what you just did was learn the bones of the head using memory strategies. It was a story with each part intentionally placed. You even now know which ones are paired and not paired bones.

Now let’s break it down so you understand. We learn best through our senses and emotions. Things that stand out are more memorable. So what we’re trying to do is take something that does not stand out for you and make it memorable. This is done by making things unique, weird, and/or interesting. Although it may seem childish, this is a better method for learning that rote memorization… and requires less effort.

So in this story, you start out with a friend as a “pair.” The part of the story were you are with your friend corresponds to the true “paired” bones, meaning there are two of them (a right and left). There is a bone, the frontal, that is a single bone, but to us osteopathic physicians acts as a paired bone. So I placed it in the transition period in the story. The single bones can have paired components so I try to throw that in wherever I can.

Let’s go through the story now. The first paired bones we want to learn are the “parietals.” So how does the story start? It starts with with you and your friend wanting to go to the top “party.” It is those first three letters that are meant to trigger parietals for you. Even if you can’t remember the whole name, you’ll remember “par.” Where are the parietals? They are on the top of your head. Take a moment to pat the top of your head and say “parietals.”

The second set of paired bones we want to learn are the temporal bones. Where is the party? It’s at two temples. Temples sound like “temporal.” Imagine hearing a loud, thumping party with your ears. Your ear canals go through your temporal bones. Place your hands over your ears. These are the temporal bones. Hopefully that’s making sense.

Now, we want to try to remember the bones called “Zygomas.” This is a bit harder, but follow along with me. Who catches you before you get into the party? Your mom. You “Sigh.” Where does she grab you? Your cheeks. These are your cheekbones. “Sigh-Go-Mas.”

Next, we want to learn the “maxillas.” So what happens when you are about to leave? A maximum sized Godzilla comes out. A “max-zilla.” Think about that big face with those sharp upper teeth. The maxillas make up the face and have your upper teeth.

So after Godzilla grabs you and startles you, what happens? You squirt champagne out of your nose. This is meant to reference the “nasal” bones.

What do the champagne bubbles do as they are squirt out of your nose? They cause you to get teary-eyed and cry. Another word for tearing is “lacrimating.” What bones are these referring to? The “lacrimal” bones. These are found in your inner eye socket where the corner of your eye is and have the lacrimal duct drain tears through them.

Now let’s learn the “palatine bones.” Gozilla takes you into this dark cave and sets you and your friend down on what? A plate. The plate is similar to the “palate.” It’s just missing an “a.” These bones make the back part of your hard palate in your mouth.

Now is your chance to escape but why can’t you see? Because it’s dark. What helps you see in the dark? That’s right, the “infrared contacts.” This one is a little trickier. What we’re trying to remember is “inferior conchae.” At the very least, you have the “inf” and “con” to try to trigger the name. These bones are in the nasal cavity. You can imagine feeling a draft of wind as you try to put on the infrared contacts.

So now you can escape, you both start running out and you hit what? The “front” of your forehead. The frontal bone makes up your forehead. This makes you lose consciousness. You wake up and now you’re all alone. Remember the frontal bone is a single bone, but it acts as a paired bone as do other bones of the skull. That may not matter unless your in osteopathic school. If you’re just trying to learn the anatomy, then remember it is a single bone.

You make it out of the cave. What’s the first thing you see? An ox. The name of the bone we’re trying to remember is called the “occiput.” The “ox” sounds like the first part to trigger the name for you. The occiput makes up the back of the head. Go ahead and tap the back of your head and say it out loud, “occiput.” Imagine an ox tail sticking out of the back of your head.

What does the ox tell you he saw? A “sphere” or a ball with wings fall into a void. This may be challenging but imagine the ball bouncing out of the cave and falling into a hole. The bone we are trying to remember is called the “sphenoid.” This may be like a rhyme to give you the word. “Sphere” and “void.” Spherevoid can rhyme with sphenoid. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It just needs to work in reminding you of what you are trying to remember. The sphenoid is a single bone but has two pairs of wings. The sphenoid makes up the back part of the eye socket. So if you can remember the ball perhaps as an eyeball with wings, it can help you remember more information about the sphenoid.

To finish your escape, you have to jump over that “void.” It will take what? Effort. The next bone we want to remember is called the “Ethmoid.” In this case we’re linking the “Eff” from effort and void. There you have it. “Ethmoid.” The ethmoid along with the next bone make up part of your nasal septum.

The next bone we want to learn is called the “vomer.” What do you see on your way back to the temple? A monk. What is he doing with his hand. He’s making a “V” like in Star Trek. What is he chanting “Vommmm.” We mentioned that at the chant sounded a little nasally. Do you remember that? That’s to help remind you that the vomer is in the nasal cavity helping to make up the septum. The V and the chant are meant to help you remember “vomer.”

Now you’re back at the temple. Who’s the bouncer? A “man” named “Mandy.” What strange feature does he have? A big chin. What’s the next bone we’re trying to remember? The “mandible.” So if you can remember a man named “Mandy” with a big chin, you can then link it to mandible and that is your lower jaw bone.

What’s under Mandy? Who’s shoulders is he standing on? Your friend. What does he say? “Hi.” Under the mandible is a horseshoe shaped bone called the “Hyoid.” So if you can picture your friend saying “hi” under Mandy, you can then remember that the hyoid bone is under the mandible.

Hopefully you’ve followed along so far. Now take a moment and see how many of these you can recall? Did you do better this time? Let me know in the comments sections how you did.

Review this from time to time if you need to reinforce the material. Remember this is the beginning with this material. This will provide the scaffolding that we can then add more and more onto. If you don’t know these bones well, then you really have to start here. If you enjoyed this and would like to learn more anatomy memory tips like this, like this post, leave a comment, or like my facebook page for “Daniel Lopez, DO” to get more. This is Dr. Lopez, I’ll see you soon.