Secrets of Memory All-Stars: Brain reflects superior recollection strategy

7:28am, December 26, 2002

Some people have flypaper memories. Bits and pieces of information stick in their minds, enabling them to remember a dizzying array of stuff.

These memory all-stars aren't smarter than the rest of us. Nor do they possess brains equipped with beefed-up memory centers. According to a report in the January Nature Neuroscience, their advantage lies in a propensity to use a learning strategy that engages brain areas important for spatial memory.

This particular memory-boosting strategy, described almost 2,500 years ago by a Greek poet, requires visualizing a pathway along which items to be remembered are situated at different points. A person later recalls the items by mentally retracing the route.

Neuroscientist Eleanor A. Maguire of University College London and her colleagues studied 20 adults, half having exceptional memories and half having average memories.

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