New research has found that memory capacity can be doubled in just 40 days by working 30 minutes per day on two simple training tests.
The two training methods used in the study were: practising remembering sequences of numbers, and, the method of ‘loci’.
The method of loci (loci being Latin for “places”) is a method of memory enhancement that uses visualisations with the use of spatial memory and familiar information about one’s environment to quickly recall information.
After training, people could usually remember about twice as many words, according to the study.
Results also indicated that the strategic training (loci) worked the best in the long-run and even without doing any further training, participants’ memory was still working at a higher level four months later.
Professor Martin Dresler, the study’s first author, said:
“After training we see massively increased performance on memory tests.
“Not only can you induce a behavioural change, the training also induces similar brain connectivity patterns as those seen in memory athletes.”
Researchers took brain scans before and after the training and found that after training people’s brains were more similar to ‘memory athletes’ — those who train their memories for international competitions.
Typically, top memory athletes can memorise a series of 500 digits in just five minutes.
None of the memory athletes were born with special memory skills, they simply worked on them over the years, said Professor Dresler:
“They, without a single exception, trained for months and years using mnemonic strategies to achieve these high levels of performance.
“Once you are familiar with these strategies and know how to apply them, you can keep your performance high without much further training.”
The brain scans showed there were 25 critical points of connectivity among the memory athletes.
The research also highlighted two vital hubs of connectivity in the brain regions related to learning.
Professor Dresler concluded: “It makes sense that these connections would be affected.
These are exactly the things we ask subjects to do when using method of loci for memorisation.”