Uncovering the structure of a memorist's superior "basic" memory capacity

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Peter F. Delaney, Associate Professor (Creator)
Institution
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/

Abstract: After extensive laboratory testing of the famous memorist Rajan, Thompson, Cowan, and Frieman (1993) proposed that he was innately endowed with a superior memory capacity for digits and letters and thus violated the hypothesis that exceptional memory fully reflects acquired ?skilled memory.? We successfully replicated the empirical phenomena that led them to their conclusions. From additional analyses and new experiments, we found support for an alternative hypothesis, namely that Rajan’s superior memory for digits was mediated by learned encoding techniques that he acquired during nearly a thousand hours of practice memorizing the mathematical constant p. Our paper describes a general experimental approach for studying the structure of exceptional memory and how Rajan’s unique structure is consistent with the general theoretical framework of long-term working memory (Ericsson & Kintsch, 1995).

Additional Information

Publication
Cognitive Psychology, 49(3), 191-237
Language: English
Date: 2004
Keywords
Memory skill, Exceptional performance, Skill acquisition, Mnemonics, Innate talent, Long-term working memory, Skilled memory, Expertise, Expert performance, Memorist