Extraordinary Memorists

So far we have discussed memory improvement techniques available to the average person. However, some people have truly extraordinary memories, showing that the human brain is capable of extremely powerful memory performance.

Why does Neisser say these individuals should be called memorists rather than mnemonists?

Brown and Deffenbacher (1975), in an article titled "Forgotten mnemonists," point out that individuals with uncommonly good memory have been identified on a regular basis for over 100 years. Such mnemonists or memory geniuses were typically described in a magazine or journal article then forgotten: an irony to which Brown and Deffenbacher allude in the title of their article.

Neisser (1982) said these memory geniuses should be called memorists (rather than mnemonists, the term Brown and Deffenbacher used) because few of the memory experts used mnemonic systems. An exception is Luria's mnemonist, whom we will discuss first. He used the method of loci, and he has not been forgotten. He is the most frequently cited memorist in the memory literature.


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