This book describes the first comprehensive experimental research program on an individual who exhibits exceptional memory. Rajan Mahadevan, the subject of these investigations, won a place in the Guinness Book of Records for reciting pi to 31,811 decimal places, can learn matrices up to size 20 X 20, and can produce memory spans above 60 for digits. Utilizing the methodology and theories of modern cognitive psychology, the authors systematically investigated Rajan's memory skills. A wide range of experiments and tests were conducted with Rajan and four control subjects. These include memory span tests for digits and letters, memory for various kinds of non-numeric information, tests of working memory, learning and retention of numeric matrices, memory and visual searches of the digits of pi, and lexical decision tasks with the digits of pi.
The authors describe how they came to understand the way Rajan stored and now retrieves the decimal digits of pi, how he learns and retrieves matrices, and how he encodes and retrieves digits in a memory span task. Although his strategy for memorizing and retrieving digits is unique in the literature on people with extraordinary memory, the authors show how their investigations of Rajan contribute to our understanding of memory.
"This study is unique in that it is the first systematic study of the memorization process of such large sets of well-defined material; earlier works only investigated sets of 32 words, so the current material is 300 times larger than any other memory-span tasks that have been studied….Most useful for those who want to examine an in-depth study of memory, including types of tasks and experimental controls that were used."
Contents: Preface. Rajan the Person. Memory Span and Memory Load Tasks. Non-Numeric Performance. Number Matrices. Memory Search. Searching for Locations in a Visual Display. Priming Digit Strings. Comparison with Other Memorists. Overview and Interpretation of Rajan's Performance.