Routes to Remembering: The Brains Behind Superior Memory

Nat Neurosci. 2003 Jan;6(1):90-5. doi: 10.1038/nn988.

Abstract

Why do some people have superior memory capabilities? We addressed this age-old question by examining individuals renowned for outstanding memory feats in forums such as the World Memory Championships. Using neuropsychological measures, as well as structural and functional brain imaging, we found that superior memory was not driven by exceptional intellectual ability or structural brain differences. Rather, we found that superior memorizers used a spatial learning strategy, engaging brain regions such as the hippocampus that are critical for memory and for spatial memory in particular. These results illustrate how functional neuroimaging might prove valuable in delineating the neural substrates of mnemonic techniques, which could broaden the scope for memory improvement in the general population and the memory-impaired.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain / anatomy & histology
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Gyrus Cinguli / anatomy & histology
  • Gyrus Cinguli / physiology
  • Hippocampus / anatomy & histology
  • Hippocampus / physiology
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Learning / physiology
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Memory Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Memory Disorders / therapy
  • Middle Aged
  • Nerve Net / anatomy & histology
  • Nerve Net / physiology
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Parietal Lobe / anatomy & histology
  • Parietal Lobe / physiology
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology
  • Photic Stimulation