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Super Memory: Is anyone capable of achieving it? Amber J. Rice St. Lawrence University, Canton, New York Super Memory: Is anyone capable of achieving it?

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Presentation on theme: "Super Memory: Is anyone capable of achieving it? Amber J. Rice St. Lawrence University, Canton, New York Super Memory: Is anyone capable of achieving it?"— Presentation transcript:

1 Super Memory: Is anyone capable of achieving it? Amber J. Rice St. Lawrence University, Canton, New York Super Memory: Is anyone capable of achieving it? Amber J. Rice St. Lawrence University, Canton, New York MYTH Super memorists have the capacity to remember significantly more than the average person due to innate abilities. The highest level of performance is only achievable when an individual is inherently gifted in that area. MYTH BUSTED Current research shows that super memorists have years of practice and use various memorization techniques. Also, there have been case studies where normal individuals are capable of reaching and even surpassing the memory spans of super memorists through hours of practice. RESEARCH POINTS TO PRACTICE Cowan, R., & Carney, D. (2006). Calendrical savants: Exceptionality and Practice. Cognition, 100(2), B1-B9. Ericsson, K., & Charness, N. (1999). Expert performance: Its structure and acquisition. The nature—nurture debate: The essential readings (pp ). Malden: Blackwell Publishing. Ericsson, K., & Chase, W. (1982). Exceptional memory. American Scientist, 70(6), Ericsson, K., Delaney, P., Weaver, G., & Mahadevan, R. (2004). Uncovering the structure of a memorist's superior 'basic' memory capacity. Cognitive Psychology, 49(3), Kalakoski, V., & Saariluoma, P. (2001). Taxi drivers' exceptional memory of street names. Memory & Cognition, 29(4), Mahadevan, R., Malone, J., & Bailey, J. (2002). Radical behaviorism and exceptional memory phenomena. Behavior and Philosophy, Owen, A., Hampshire, A., Grahn, J., Stenton, R., Dajani, S., Burns, A., et al. (2010). Putting brain training to the test. Nature, 465(7299), (Ericsson & Chase, 1982) (Ericsson, Delaney, Weaver, & Mahadevan, 2004) (Owen et al., 2010) PREVIOUS BELIEFS Early philosophers believed that desirable characteristics were direct gifts from the gods. For many years, this belief continued to be the main reasoning behind talented individuals. Since then, there’s an increased tendency to relate special talents that are not the obvious consequence of practice, to the innate ability of the individual (Ericsson & Charness, 1994). Past research conducted on super memorist Rajan concluded that he was innately talented to memorize digits and letters. However, when this study was replicated, new researchers found support for an alternate hypothesis. Their results indicate that Rajan’s exceptional memory was directly associated with his encoding techniques which were learned through extensive practice (Ericsson et al., 2004). The explanations behind super memorist’s talents have changed significantly from the past ideas of innate abilities. The present hypothesis states that individuals who can remember significantly more than the average 7 plus or minus 2 can do so because of practice (Cowan & Carney, 2005; Ericsson et al., 2004; Ericsson & Charness, 1994; Ericsson & Chase, 1982; Kalakoski & Saariluoma, 2001; Mahadevan, Malone & Bailey, 2002; Owen, Hampshire, Grahn, Stenton, Dajani, Burns, Howard & Ballard, 2010). In one experiment, and undergraduate student, SF, was presented with a digit-span task. This occurred for 1 hour a day, 3 to 5 days a week, and for 20 months total. In the end, SF was recorded as having more than 230 hours of testing. His acquisition of exceptional memory was tested over the period of 20 months. From start to finish, SF improved his memory spans from 7 to approximately 80 digits. This shows that with deliberate practice, an individual who started with a normal memory capacity actually surpassed the spans for documented super memorists such as Rajan and Aitken. SF, who was an avid runner, realized that he could remember chunks easier when he associated three or four digits to common running times. He also used other mnemonic associates such as dates and ages. Over the 20 months, SF was able to reduce the amount of time needed to memorize a list by half (Ericsson & Chase, 1982; Mahadevan et al., 2002). References


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