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Lecture 6

PSC 130 Lecture Notes - Lecture 6: Caudate Nucleus, White Matter, Hackney Carriage

Course Code
PSC 130

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January 26, 2017:
I. Exceptional Memory
A. Exceptional Memory
1. Types of Exceptional Memory:
a. General memory abilities
b. Autobiographical memory
c. Expertise within domains such as chess, calculation, cars, and birds
2. Questions asked: Distinct brains? Better use of normal capacities? Clever mnemonic strategies?
B. Exceptional General Memory Ability
1. Luria (1968) Mind of a mnemonist
a. S.V Shereshevskii (known as ‘S’) had a large memory span (70 digits
presented 3-4 seconds apart)
i. Recall of digits in any order (backwards, forwards, or diagonally)
ii. Good recall of words, nonsense syllables, numbers, sounds, oral, or
visual items
iii. Recall of lists presented many years earlier
2. How did he do it?
a. Synaesthesia one sense activates another (Ex: activation in grapheme
and color areas of the brain)
i. Like he had another dimension to remember things
b. Method of Loci link new items to location in a well learned space
i. (e.g., Greek poet Simonides of Ceos in 477 BC)
c. Eidetic Images (photographic memory) visually see what they learned (little solid
3. World Memory Champion 2002
a. Memories create pathways, to retrieve them, you need to trigger the pathways
b. Andy has to remember 520 cards in 20 minutes
c. His technique: Location method (method of loci)
i. He visits monuments in a particular order; walking the route several times in his mind
ii. Associates cards with already memorized items
Distinctive bizarre items
iii. Puts the connected items in mind on his walking route
d. Techniques rely on elaborative learning, visual imagery, dual-coding
4. Maguire et al. (2003) 8 subjects form the World Memory Championships
a. These subjects are pretty normal Normal: IQ, reasoning, and Ray visual memory
b. They have higher scores on story recall and digit span tests
c. Their brains look pretty normal Normal structural brain scans
d. In an fMRI study during encoding of faces, numbers, and snowflakes, that’s when you see a
i. Increase activity during encoding in experts in the cerebellum, posterior cingulate, and
ii. All reported using method of loci (i.e. spatial memory method)
iii. Expertise reflected the use of mnemonic strategies, not inherent brain differences
C. Exceptional Autobiographical Memory
1. Video Superior Autobiographical Memory
a. Louisa in New York can remember every single day of her life since age 11
b. Professor James McGaugh quizzing to see if they’re telling the truth
c. Jill Price feels haunted from all these memories
2. Parker, Cahill, & McGaugh (2006) Subject AJ (Jill Price)
a. Thinks about the past ‘a lot’ and keeps careful diaries
i. Thinks about the events of the day before she goes to sleep; makes connections across
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