Mental athletes gathering in Boston for the USA Memory Championship
“For the last few months, 13-year-old Claire Wang of Los Angeles has been training her memory with playing cards, phone numbers, software — “whatever I can get my hands on,” she says.
She’s been buffing up her skills to compete in an annual sporting tournament where the athletes are not physical but mental.
Known as the USA Memory Championship, the competition is in its 20th year and hosted for the first time this Saturday at MIT, which is also home to one of the biggest collections of brain scientists in the world.
“The point is, memory is a skill, it’s not an innate capacity,” says Robert Ajemian, a research scientist at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT. “And that’s the message that we want to get out, both to the scientific community and to the lay community…
Thus far, neuroscientists have paid little attention to the kinds of super-memorizers who compete in championships. But last year, a study in the journal Neuron scanned the brains of some of these “mental athletes” and did pick up some differences. It also found that regular people could dramatically improve their memory skills with just six weeks of training.”
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