Secrets of a Mind-Gamer

Superinteressanter Artikel in der New York-Times von Joshua Foer, der sein Gehirn und sein Erinnerungsvermögen innerhalb eines Jahres so trainiert hat, dass er im Finale der USA Memory Championships landete.

The unlikely story of how I ended up in the finals of the U.S.A. Memory Championship, stock-still and sweating profusely, began a year earlier in the same auditorium, on the 19th floor of the Con Edison building near Union Square in Manhattan. I was there to write a short article about what I imagined would be the Super Bowl of savants.

The scene I stumbled upon, however, was something less than a clash of titans: a bunch of guys (and a few women), varying widely in age and personal grooming habits, poring over pages of random numbers and long lists of words. They referred to themselves as mental athletes, or M.A.’s for short. The best among them could memorize the first and last names of dozens of strangers in just a few minutes, thousands of random digits in under an hour and — to impress those with a more humanistic bent — any poem you handed them.

I asked Ed Cooke, a competitor from England — he was 24 at the time and was attending the U.S. event to train for that summer’s World Memory Championships — when he first realized he was a savant.

“Oh, I’m not a savant,” he said, chuckling.

“Photographic memory?” I asked.

He chuckled again. “Photographic memory is a detestable myth. Doesn’t exist. In fact, my memory is quite average. All of us here have average memories.”

Secrets of a Mind-Gamer (via Lone Iguana)