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Memory champions.

Much of our previous work (Gordon, Valentine & Wilding, 1984; Wilding & Valentine, 1985, 1988, 1992, 1993) has suggested that superior memory performance is largely dependent on the employment of mnemonic techniques. However, Wilding & Valentine (1992), reviewing the available evidence, including consideration of many other cases of superior memory, concluded that not all the evidence could be accounted for in these terms, despite the claims of Ericsson in numerous papers (e.g. Ericsson, 1988; Ericsson & Faivre, 1988). Although such techniques can indeed produce astonishing levels of recall in tasks to which they are suited, some subjects appear to be able to reach very high levels of performance without the aid of such techniques. It seems more plausible that both natural ability and the use of techniques contribute to superior memory performance across a wide range of tasks. Possible indices of natural ability might be superior performance on tasks unsuited to techniques as well as on those suited to their use, evidence of superior ability in close relatives, demonstration of superior performance at a very young age, exceptional incidental long-term retention, and possibly possession and use of vivid imagery.

The holding of the first World Memory Championships in London in October 1991 provided the opportunity to investigate the performance of the contestants, plus three members of the audience who showed outstanding ability, on the battery of tasks used in our previous studies of subjects showing superior memory performance.

The aims of the present study were as follows:

1. To compare the performance of subjects with memory expertise competing at an international level with that of subjects previously tested on the same tasks.

2. To investigate patterns of memory performance across different types of task.

3. To investigate the contribution of mnemonic techniques to exceptional performance.

4. To search for evidence of natural memory superiority, in the form of superior performance on a wide range of tasks (including tasks not obviously amenable to mnemonic techniques), superior performance at an early age, superior memory ability in close relatives, good long-term incidental recall, and vivid imagery.

5. To take steps towards developing an improved test battery for future research.

Method

Subjects

The subjects were all seven contestants in the World Memory Championships, plus three members of the audience at that event who showed outstanding performance. They are labelled by the letters A to J, rather than initials, which would enable identification.

Table 1 gives details of the sex and age of each subject, together with answers to questions asked prior to the testing session:

Do you consider that you have a naturally good memory? If so, when did you first become aware of this? Do you use memory techniques? If so, how often do you practise them? Is having a good memory an advantage in your job? Do you have vivid imagery? Do any other members of your family show evidence of superior memory ability?

Additional comments on each subject are given below:

Subject A grew up in Nigeria. He reported that his memory was good as a boy and he was encouraged to master a variety of factual information, but the culture did not stress oral memory. He had memorized most of the STD telephone codes, while working as a telephone operator. He claimed to see the numbers and to absorb them in groups of three or to recall the sound of spoken numbers. He claimed he was good at remembering routes and could rapidly master short phrases of a foreign language with a near perfect accent. He claimed to be good at recognizing classical music pieces from short extracts and could play from memory, visualizing the score and using sound and motor memory.

Subject B is a mathematician. He maintained that his natural memory was very good for visual and tactile information, music and particularly numbers, but he claimed that near relatives were even better.

Subject C began to learn memory techniques and practise intensively about four years before we met him and uses mainly the method of loci.

Subject D was one of the rare female subjects in this area of study, working as a journalist. She said she found it easy to memorize material at school and was good at languages, including mastering accent, but not at spatial relations, her sense of direction being poor. She reported that several near relatives had exceptionally good memories.

Subject E claimed to use 'brute' memory, though he could make up methods of memorizing numbers on the spot (see, for example, the description of his learning of a number matrix below). He found he had a good memory at school and claimed strong imagery. Other members of his family, he said, had creative rather than memory abilities.

Subject F is a magician and hypnotist, who uses some mnemonic methods in his work, such as the figure alphabet and peg words for playing cards. He started developing methods when he was 13, but does not practise intensively. He claimed that his memory for routes is good though his imagery ability is not strong.

Subject G, an undergraduate, has developed a number of mnemonic methods, based mainly on recoding numbers into sentences and the method of loci, combined with very vivid imagery. He also has a set of learned associations between playing cards and words. He practises before entering competitions and sometimes at spare moments: 'one thing I do is to pick a reasonably long word and hold it in my mind clearly enough to read it forwards and backwards, pick out, say, all the alternate letters, and even rearrange the letters, making anagrams etc'.
Table 1. Answers to preliminary questions from the 11 subjects

                      A    B    C    D    E    F    G    H    I
  J

Sex                   M    M    M    F    M    M    M    M    M
  M
Age                   53   27   34   28   33   35   19   47
30   13
Good natural memory   Y    Y    ?    Y    ?    Y    Y    Y    N
  Y
Early awareness       Y    Y    ?    Y    Y    Y    Y    Y    N
  Y
Techniques            N    N    Y    N    N    Y    Y    Y    Y
  N
Regular practice      N    N    Y    N    N    N    Y    Y    Y
  N
Use in job, etc.      N    N    Y    N    N    Y?   Y    Y    Y
  N
Vivid imagery         Y    Y    ?    Y    Y    N    Y    Y    N
  Y
Near relative         Y    Y    Y    Y    N    N    Y    N    N
  N

Key. Y = yes; N = no.


Subject H has practised mnemonic methods, such as a modified version of the figure alphabet and codes for playing cards, since he was seven years old and has taken part in memory competitions and world record attempts many times. He practises daily. He found at school that he had a good memory for faces, conversations and story plots.

Subject I earns his living by teaching methods of improving memory, having developed an interest in these at the age of 18. He does not practise the methods intensively himself, but uses them regularly. He claimed to have a bad natural memory.

Subject J first became aware that his memory was good when he attended the Memoriad and found he was doing as well as many of the contestants. He had no pre-prepared strategies though he applied some 'common sense' methods on that occasion such as rehearsing numbers in groups of three.

Procedure

The subjects were seen at a variety of locations (the college, a college annex in London, workplaces or homes) in most cases for a single session lasting about two hours, though two (A and J) were seen for two separate sessions a week apart. In the former case subjects were sent without warning a request to carry out delayed recall for four of the tests as near to a week after the first session as possible. In the latter case the delayed recall was included in the second session.

The memory tasks were those used in previous studies (see Wilding & Valentine, 1988, 1992 for details):

1. Immediate and delayed story recall.

2. Immediate and delayed two-choice recognition of pictures of 36 faces.

3. Immediate and delayed recall of names in response to pictures of 13 faces previously presented with the names.

4. Immediate and delayed free recall of 25 words.

5. Immediate and delayed recall of six telephone numbers, each six digits long, in response to names previously presented with them.

6. Recall of the names of British prime ministers since the war (i.e. 1945).

7. Recall of the spatial and temporal locations of a series of eight pictures, without foreknowledge of which feature would be tested.

8. Recognition of 14 previously seen pictures of snow crystals among 70 foils.

9. Recall of earliest memory, with any information which permitted an estimate of their age at the time.

In addition the following measures were obtained:

10. Mill Hill vocabulary Test B (as a test of general ability). The Junior version was used for subject J.

11. Measures of verbal and imaginal thinking (the IDQ - Individual Differences Questionnaire - of Paivio & Harshman, 1983).

12. A measure of Vividness of Visual Imagery (the VVIQ of Marks, 1973).

13. Time to learn a six X eight number matrix and to recall the whole, plus time to recall specified rows and columns either forwards or backwards (see Gordon et al., 1984). This task was optional.

Results

Scores on the memory tasks and other tests for each subject and for TE, JR and TM (from previous studies) are shown in Tables 2a and 2b, together with norms. For the memory tasks the norms were all derived from a sample of 30 subjects ranging in age from 30 to 70 drawn from a variety of sources (the sample used by Wilding & Valentine, 1992, with 13 additional subjects added). The norms given are those calculated for 30-year-olds with a Mill Hill score at the 90th percentile, in order to achieve an approximate match for age and general ability (this was the median Mill Hill percentile of the present adult sample, the median being appropriate in view of the virtually bimodal nature of the distribution of these percentiles). Norms for other scores are from the original sources. Table 3 gives the results of the memory tasks for the new subjects as percentiles relative to the norms; the norm for each subject was calculated by multiple regression on the age and Mill Hill score, with the standard error calculated according to the formula given by Wilding & Valentine (1992). Memory for prime ministers and age of earliest memory, which reflect different abilities from the other tasks, are not included and Subject J is omitted as no norms were available for 13-year-olds. Table 4 gives details of performance in learning and recalling the number matrix for the subjects who carried out this task.

Pattern of performance and methods for each subject

Subject A. This subject only did well on the story and recall of prime ministers, in accordance with his professed interest in applying memory to the retention of meaningful historical and literary information rather than artificial tasks.

Subject B. This subject was particularly impressive in memorizing numerical information. He said he used some associations to the names and telephone numbers initially, but with more exposure was able just to 'see' them. Even better was his complete retention of the number matrix after a week, a feat unmatched by any other subject (recall was still perfect two months later). His comment was, 'I can "see" the matrix in my "mind's eye ", but not in a photographic way. It is a little difficult to describe, but basically it is possible for me to see a few numbers at a time, in a "window". I can move the window around and new numbers appear. The nearest analogy I can think of is blind chess when the player may not "see" all of the board at one time, but is "aware" in some sense of the interrelationships of the pieces, and can focus on any part of the board that he or she desires'. Performance was also quite high on the snow crystals. He stated that he usually needed two exposures to fix TABULAR DATA OMITTED TABULAR DATA OMITTED TABULAR DATA OMITTED material firmly; this was only possible with the telephone numbers and number matrix, on both of which he did well, but this may have been due to the numerical nature of these tasks.

Subjects A and B provide good examples of the role played by special interests in the development of exceptional memory performance (see Hunter, 1990).

Subject C. This subject depended very largely on highly practised techniques, especially the method of loci, for which he had 35 memorized settings of different lengths. He was therefore always keen to know how many items were to be presented TABULAR DATA OMITTED in each task and how many tasks were to be given in all, as he found it confusing to reuse them within half an hour. Recall and recognition were very fast and he recalled the telephone numbers perfectly after one exposure. His performance was considerably less impressive on tasks which were not readily amenable to his techniques: the story, picture location and sequence (where he confused himself by trying to invent a perfect method on the spot) and snow crystals. He lost concentration during the story through trying to devise a method of retaining a long African name. His score for delayed story recall was unreliable since he did not carry this out until after four weeks' delay, due to absence on holiday, but neither was delayed recall high on the other tasks after a week.

Subject D. This subject used no techniques, but produced impressive performance on the story, names, picture location and sequence (the combined score is one of the highest) and also did quite well on telephone numbers. The recording of immediate recall of the story unfortunately failed but both experimenters attempted a reconstruction from their own memory which produced the very high score entered in the table. In her perfect performance on recalling names to faces (a task at which she said she normally did well) she thought of a feature which began with the same letter as the name, but she said that normally she needed no technique as more information was usually available to link to the name.

Subject E. Recognition of faces, word recall and delayed recall of the matrix were good. This subject used no technique for the first of these which he said was a fairly easy task. On the matrix he divided it into groups of four (two X two) and detected some pattern in these (e.g. in 54/65 both diagonals add to 10). These associates to the groups were then combined into associated sequences. With practice he said he could simply 'see' the matrix.

Subject F. This was a respectable all-round performance. Perfect performance was achieved (uniquely) on recall of picture location and sequence; he used a visual image for the spatial positions and linked items into a story for the temporal sequence. His reported methods were not very systematic for the other tasks; for example, he attempted to link faces and names by exaggerating features and creating an association but gave up because presentation was too fast to achieve this.

Subject G. Overall this was the most impressive performance of all the subjects. The unexpected delayed recall was less impressive because this subject practises deliberate forgetting of unwanted material to avoid interference with new learning--'By reviewing anything I may need in future a couple of times, I can commit it to long-term memory ... whereas I actually visualize dissolving and disappearing those things that I won't need again'. Similar methods have been reported for Luria's subject, S (Luria, 1969), and for Leslie Welch, the 'Memory Man' (Hunter, 1990). Subject G used visualization to aid recall of the story, but no special method in memorizing the faces. He found distinguishable features to link to the names or if the name was the same as that of someone he already knew he would associate a feature of the face to the known person. For the words he used the method of loci. Telephone numbers were recorded as sets of words via the playing card associates, as was the matrix; the words were combined into a sentence and the rows of the matrix were retained in order by use of the method of loci. In picture recall, for temporal order he simply used a chain of associations and for spatial order a set of conceptual pegs to which the pictures were linked. He tried to find a key feature for each snowflake pattern.

Subject H. This subject depended heavily on well-practised techniques, which he used with faces, words, telephone numbers and the number matrix (and less successfully with the names). Performance on tasks not amenable to these was very moderate and delayed recall was poor, apart from recall of the names when age was taken into account, partly due to 'the fact that I have been memorizing many things since, thereby dulling the images from last week'. He looked for distinctive features in the faces or recalled persons he knew of whom the face was reminiscent. For the names he found an association (for example, Stratford became a Shakespearean actor, Rowan a boat), then the image of the face was manipulated to fit this association. For the words a modified digit-letter alphabet was used to retain order and the letters became words (for example, t-tar, n-nay, 3-ray) which were linked to the presented words in the list. The phone numbers were converted in groups of three into words by a digit-letter alphabet and linked to modifications of the names designed to produce easy associations (for example, Stelman became Stillman with the association of real ale!). He looked for distinctive features in the snowflakes.

Subject I. This was another solid all-round performance largely depending on application of techniques (e.g. peg words, digit alphabet, selecting and exaggerating distinctive features of faces). However, the impressive story recall suggests this was not the whole truth. Delayed recall was only obtained from this subject seven weeks after the original presentation due to other commitments.

Subject J. It is difficult to evaluate the recall of this 13-year-old. His overall performance was very respectable, though not outstanding compared with the adult subjects. Retention over a week was, however, very high, compared with all adults tested except JR. Such high retention may, however, be characteristic of younger subjects and obviously suitable norms need to be collected for this age group before any firm conclusion can be drawn.

Retention over a week

Percentage loss was calculated between immediate and delayed recall for the tasks where retention after a week was tested. This index was somewhat unreliable, due to lack of control over the delayed recall situation, and the failure of some subjects to provide recall data at the correct time or any recall data at all. Nevertheless, it did provide some interesting results. JR demonstrated quite exceptional retention, with an average loss on the four tasks of only 5 per cent, a figure matched by ED in an earlier volunteer sample, whose unusual retention ability was noted by Wilding & Valentine (1992). Subject J, the 13-year-old, had an average loss of only 18 per cent. The best retention in the Memoriad sample was shown by Subject B (30 per cent loss, also zero loss on the matrix despite using no special technique and least loss on the telephone numbers of all subjects except TM). Subject D also had a loss of about 30 per cent, but an exact figure could not be calculated due to the estimated figure for immediate story recall. The norms indicate an average loss on the four tasks in the normal population of about 35 per cent so neither of these subjects showed exceptionally low loss overall. However, each showed unusually low loss on some tasks. TE showed minimal loss (and actually improved on the names) when his delayed recall was tested.

Retention was compared in more detail with the results of the 30 control subjects. Using multiple regression equations with age and immediate memory score as the independent variables (Mill Hill scores were initially included but found to have no effect) and percentage loss as the dependent variable, the predicted percentage loss was first calculated for a 30-year-old subject achieving immediate memory performance at the same level as JR and secondly for one achieving the same level of immediate memory performance as Subject J(1). Comparison of the percentage lost by JR and Subject J with the predicted levels demonstrated that their forgetting of the story and faces was lower than the predicted level, but not significantly so. However JR showed significantly lower forgetting of names and words (at the 99th and 100th percentiles respectively) and Subject J's forgetting of these was almost significantly lower than the controls (at the 97th percentile in both cases, but see(1)).

Discussion

Comparison with results from previous studies

With the exception of Subject A, these subjects in general performed at an above average level compared with the control group, and several performed over all the tasks at least as well as the best of the subjects tested previously. For example, while no subject in the control group had three or more scores above the 90th percentile (three of them had two scores above this level and 12 of them had just one score above this level), of the present sample, Subjects A, B and F had two such scores, Subject E had one and the others all had more than this, with Subject G having six such scores, despite practising deliberate forgetting. On the immediate memory tests the overall performance of subjects G, I, C and D was particularly impressive (with G doing well on names, words, telephone numbers and snow crystals; I on story, names and telephone numbers; C on names, words and telephone numbers; and D on story and names). Subjects B and H also did well on the telephone numbers and Subject F on the spatial and temporal positions of pictures.

Patterns of performance

One of the most striking aspects of these data is the remarkable variety in exceptional memory performance. Subjects A and B illustrate the influence of specialized interests, motivation and experience. Subjects C and H demonstrate the successful application of techniques by remarkable performance on tasks to which these are suited but only on those tasks. Subject D provides an example of natural ability in outstanding performance on a range of tasks without the use of special techniques, while Subject G (and perhaps Subject I) show all-round excellence resulting from a combination of natural ability and the application of techniques. This confirms the claim that exceptional accomplishments in memory 'cannot be explained by some single, simple cause' (Hunter, 1990).

Role of mnemonic techniques

The question of the extent to which performance depends on mnemonic techniques is not a straightforward one. Most subjects describe some strategy used for a task, if pressed, rather than claiming that they 'just remember'. An equally important distinction and one which is probably easier to make consistently is that between the cases where a previously prepared and practised strategy is deployed and those where a method is devised on the spot. Where subjects describe such a prepared strategy it seems reasonable to assume that they do use it. Support for such an assumption can be found in the degree of detail provided in the description, specific features of the recall performance such as speed and the nature of errors, as well as differential performance on different tasks. When subjects state that they do not use pre-prepared strategies, it is possible that their strategies have become so automated that they are unaware of them, or that they do not regard their methods as special 'strategies '. However, our impression was that these subjects were generally sophisticated with regard to their metamemory and had a good knowledge of standard memory techniques.

The strategies described were all methods of encoding and storing unrelated lists of items by connecting them to an already organized structure. These included the method of loci, the conceptual peg (e.g. 'one-bun, two-shoe', etc), digit-letter recoding schemes and prepared associations for use with playing cards (see the descriptions of methods used by subjects in the Results section, particularly the pattern of performance for Subjects G and H). Other methods which perhaps cannot be dignified with the label of strategy were visualization, grouping, searching for features of faces or snow crystals, and various forms of associative linking. The strategies used were admirably tailored to the faces, names, words, telephone numbers and matrix tasks. A modification of them could be used in the recall of spatial and temporal locations of pictures, but it was difficult to devise one on the spot, and in principle the methods could probably be used with snow crystals. Several subjects tried to select distinctive features of the latter but they had difficulty in knowing in advance which would prove useful, since those initially selected often recurred in later items.

Natural and strategic memorizers

The subjects who most clearly articulated their use of strategies were Subjects C, G, H and I (and TE and TM from earlier studies), though G and H also claimed good natural memory and C and G claimed to possess relatives with unusual ability. Subjects who most clearly indicated that they believed their superiority depended on natural ability which had been apparent from an early age and cited a relative with similar ability were B, D, JR, and possibly A and G.

To compare the performance of these two groups of subjects on tasks suited to mnemonic techniques with that on tasks less suited to them, rank orders of performance for all the subjects, plus TM and JR, were calculated. The average rank on the two kinds of task for each subject is shown in Table 5. It is immediately obvious that the 'natural' memorizers have a lower mean rank for the tasks less amenable to strategy and the reverse is true for the 'strategists'. An analysis of variance on the mean ranks with one between-subject variable (group) and one within-subject variable (task type) produced no significant main effect but a significant interaction between the two variables (F(1,14) = 9.62, p = .02). Furthermore, subjects who showed the lowest percentage loss on delayed recall (B, D, JR) belonged to the 'natural' group.
Table 5. Mean rank on (a) tasks conducive to the use of
mnemonic strategies and (b) non-conducive to such strategies
for 'natural' and 'strategic' memorizers

                            'Natural' memorizers
'Strategic' memorizers

                            A      B    D     JR    C     G
H     I     TM

(a) Story, pictures,        8.2   7.2   3.0   3.2   8.5   4.5
8.8   4.5   6.5
snow crystals
(b) Faces, names, words,   10.5   7.4   7.0   5.4   2.3   3.0
4.3   5.1   4.9
telephone numbers


These findings suggest that it may be possible to distinguish natural from strategic memorizers by means of a number of converging indices such as self-reported early natural memory ability, superior performance in close relatives, superior incidental long-term retention and differential performance on tasks suited and unsuited to the use of mnemonic techniques.

However, it does not follow from this that natural memorizers are always poor at tasks amenable to strategies. JR scored very highly on faces and names, Subject D retained all 13 names and Subject B retained all the matrix. Conversely, Subject G, who fits the criteria for both groups, was the best subject on the snow crystals task. Several of these results cast doubt on the view of Ericsson (1988) that good performance on tasks which benefit from strategies must always depend on such strategies.

Memory for physical features and memory for meaning

The present results also lend some further support to the suggestion advanced by Wilding & Valentine (1992) that one type of superior memory might be characterized by excellent recall of physical features but poor ability to analyse and store the meaning of material. This was subsequently observed in the study of TM; in the present sample Subject H and (to a much smaller extent) Subject C demonstrate a similar pattern, namely poor recall of the story combined with excellent performance on tasks requiring memory for surface information.

The precise causal pattern in these cases is, as yet, far from clear. There is no doubt that each of these three subjects was employing well-practised strategies which account for most of their excellent performance on the latter type of task. Poor recall of the story may have been due to inappropriate application of habitual techniques unsuited to this type of material, or concentration on the technique may prevent attention to meaning. Overdependence on technique might, however, itself stem from a weakness in the processes of extracting meaning normally employed by an adult when listening to a story. Other cases demonstrating such a weakness are discussed by Wilding & Valentine (1992) and TM is discussed in more detail by Wilding & Valentine (1993). The only general conclusion possible at present would seem to be the general and cautious one that several different patterns of strengths and weaknesses are apparent in subjects demonstrating unusual memory ability.

Imagery

The results for recall of the matrix offer no evidence for any simple form of eidetic imagery in any of the subjects. Time for overall recall compared with reading, and for recall of matrix columns compared with rows was not consistently fast enough in any subject to imply retrieval directly from a complete image, though some subjects (B, F, I) recalled row 6 backwards no less quickly than they recalled rows 6 and 3 forwards. However Subject B did describe clearly a form of imagery consisting of a 'window' with which he could scan the complete matrix. Both he and Subject G believed that increased practice would enable them to develop a more extensive image, but this would be a construction from information stored in long-term memory rather than an example of eidetic imagery. Several other subjects also referred to their ability to see an image, though their description was much less explicit.

All the subjects scored significantly above the normal mean for imaginal thinking on the IDQ (mean = 18.4, SD = 2.83) and all but Subjects B, C, J and JR scored significantly above the mean on verbal thinking (mean = 22.0, SD = 3.59). Scores on the VVIQ did not demonstrate exceptionally vivid imagery in most cases, though Subjects A and G yielded the minimum score, indicating maximum vividness, and TM also scored quite low. There was no clear tendency for more vivid imagery in the 'natural' group distinguished above than in the 'strategic' group. The only norms we have found for this test appear to be for the 'eyes open' condition only (Kihlstrom, Glisky, Peterson, Harvey & Rose, 1991).

Earliest memory

There is no indication that the first event recalled by these subjects occurred at an unusually early age. The mean age for earliest recall in the control group was 3.57 (SD = 2.3). Therefore, of the present sample, none recalled a memory from an age significantly lower than this. A more detailed analysis of these data will appear elsewhere. There was no indication that the 'natural' group remembered an earlier event than the 'strategic' group.

Further research

The present tasks were selected primarily to provide a variety of tasks. The face recognition task was too easy. The snowflakes task was probably too difficult. The other tasks have proved reasonably satisfactory, but future studies will need to focus on explicit questions and choose tasks accordingly.

If the use, nature and effectiveness of mnemonic strategies is to be examined, then the relation between the nature of the strategy and the precise demands of the task requires careful consideration, together with the exact nature of the information to be given to the subject in advance. If 'natural' memory is to be tested then novel tasks must be devised to which previously learned strategies are not readily applicable. Incidental or implicit learning might also be tested but this is difficult with a subject who is attending a special experimental session overtly concerned with examining the nature of exceptional memory!

Another question is the extent to which memory superiority can be attributed to encoding, retention or retrieval processes. Clearly superiority due to mnemonic strategies is attributable to encoding processes and aids for retrieval but the exact nature of superior story recall, for example, merits more detailed research.

Some evidence has been cited for retention-specific superiority in some subjects. This evidence was derived from unexpected tests of long-term retention, with their associated problems discussed above. Expected tests of long-term retention, however, present even more problems, in that performance depends strongly on the degree of practice during the retention period.

Individual differences in retrieval ability can be systematically studied by comparisons of recall and recognition or of explicit and implicit retrieval.

There are many other factors which might be examined, but in the immediate future efforts should be concentrated on the issues outlined above.

1 When regressing the percentage loss on immediate memory scores, measurement errors in the latter will also affect the former, thus increasing the correlations between the two. Since relations between the two variables tended to be negative (better immediate recall being associated with lower forgetting), the obtained function would tend to predict lower forgetting as immediate performance increased than the true value. Hence the superiority of subjects showing unusually low forgetting would be underestimated.

Acknowledgement

We should like to express our appreciation to our subjects for their time and interest.

References

Ericsson, K. A. (1988). Analysis of memory performance in terms of memory skill. In R. J. Sternberg (Ed.), Advances in the Psychology of Human Intelligence, col. 4, pp. 137-179. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

Ericsson, K. A. & Faivre, I. A. (1988). What's exceptional about exceptional abilities? In L. A. Obler & D. Fein (Eds), The Exceptional Brain: Neuropsychology of Talent and Special Abilities. New York: Guilford Press.

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Hunter, I. M. L. (1990). Exceptional memory performers: The motivational background. In M. J. A. Howe (Ed.), Encouraging the Development of Exceptional Skills and Talents. Leicester: British Psychological Society.

Kihlstrom, J. F., Glisky, M. L., Peterson, M. A., Harvey, E. M. & Rose, P. M. (1991). Vividness and control of mental imagery: A psychometric analysis. Journal of Mental Imagery, 15, 133-142.

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Wilding, J. & Valentine, E. (1988). Searching for superior memories. In M. M. Gruneberg, P. E. Morris & R. M. Sykes, (Eds), Practical Aspects of Memory: Current Research and Issues, vol. I, Memory in Everyday Life, pp. 472-477. Chichester: Wiley.

Wilding, J. & Valentine, E. (1992). Superior memory ability. In J. Weinman & J. Hunter (Eds), Memory: Neurochemical and Abnormal Perspectives, pp. 209-228. Chur: Harwood.

Wilding, J. & Valentine, E. (1993). Mnemonic wizardry and comprehension failure: A limitation in memory expertise. Paper submitted.
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Title Annotation:World Memory Championships
Author:Wilding, John; Valentine, Elizabeth
Publication:British Journal of Psychology
Date:May 1, 1994
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