Figure

Memory performance strategists and naturals on strategic and non-strategic tasks. Based on data in Wilding and Valentine (1994).

that the World Memory Championships were being held in London to assess the memory performance of the contestants as well as members of the audience who showed outstanding memory abilities.

Wilding and Valentine (1994) classified their participants into two groups: (1) strategists, who reported frequent use of memory strategies; and (2) naturals, who claimed naturally superior memory ability from early childhood, and who possessed a close relative exhibiting a comparable level of memory ability They used two kinds of memory tasks:

1. Strategic tasks (e.g., recalling names to faces) that seemed to be susceptible to the use of memory strategies.

2. Non-strategic tasks (e.g., recognition of snow crystals).

There were important differences between the strategists and the naturals (see Figure 8.7). The strategists performed much better on strategic tasks than on non-strategic tasks, whereas the naturals did well on both kinds of memory tasks. The data are plotted in percentiles, so we can see how the two groups compared against a normal control sample (50th percentile=average person's score). Superior ability can depend on either natural ability or on highly practised strategies. However, there was partial support for Ericsson's view of the importance of memory strategies, because easily the most impressive memory performance (surpassing that of more than 90% of the population) was obtained by strategists on strategic tasks.

Some strategists have spent hundreds of hours developing their memory skills. O'Brien devoted six years of his life to becoming world memory champion in the early 1990s. What motivated him? According to O'Brien (1993, p. 6), "I can now be introduced to a hundred new people at a party and remember all their names perfectly. Imagine what that does for your social confidence. My memory has helped me to lead a more organised life. I don't need to use a diary any more: appointments are all stored in my head. I can give speeches and talks without referring to any notes. I can absorb and recall huge amounts of information

Productive vocabulary learning Receptive vocabulary learning

Productive vocabulary learning Receptive vocabulary learning

Own Repetition Noun Verb strategy keyword keyword

Own Repetition Noun Verb strategy keyword keyword

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