Have you ever heard of the super memorizers, those people who can memorize enormous lists of words at a time and can tell you thousands of digits of Pi? A new study suggests that they are not much different from us and any brain can be trained to do the same after around a month.
The study suggests that the brain of a person with average memory is not different from a super memorizer brain from a structural point of view. Thus, any people can improve their memory skills with a little bit of training.
The researchers from the Medical Center of Radboud University in the Netherlands looked at the brains of 23 top competitors that are part of the World Memory Championships. In these competitions, contestants try to remember more words from a list than their rivals.
The researchers also looked at the brain of 23 people with average memory skills who had similar ages and intelligence to the 23 contestants. They discovered that their brains were not much different. What was different was the way in which the brains functioned, namely the contestants’ brains made some different connections.
However, brain connectivity is flexible. Thus, the researchers tested the average memorizers to see if their memory skills can be improved. After 30 minutes of training every day for 40 days, they discovered that their memorizing capacity doubled. Initially, they were able to memorize 26 words from a list of 72, but then they advanced to the impressive number of 62.
Also, the patterns in their brains were now more similar to those of the super memorizers. Four months after the training, their memory capabilities remained high.
However, this study had quite a small sample. Thus, it cannot constitute as solid evidence that such a technique of memory training is effective on a large group of people. Also, we cannot be sure that these changes in the brain connectivity are responsible with an improvement of memorizing abilities.
The study is important because it is the first that takes a close look at the amazing patterns found in the brains of super memorizers. Researchers are only at the beginning of understanding how memory works, so they cannot be sure of the optimal memory boost techniques after only one study, but they are on their way of making more discoveries in the field.
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