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Mental athletes gathering in Boston for the USA Memory Championship


Mem­o­ry Con­test Comes To MIT, Where Brain Sci­en­tists Explain Why Train­ing Works (WBUR):

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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Categories: Cognitive Neuroscience, Education & Lifelong Learning

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As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters,  SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking how brain science can improve our health and our lives.

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