Hugh Pickens writes writes "We've all heard of people who claim to have 'photographic memories.' Now Joshua Foer writes in the NY Times magazine (reg. may be required) that a 'skilled memory' can be acquired and proves it by explaining how he trained his brain to became a world-class memory athlete winning first place in the speed cards competition last year at the USA Memory Championship by memorizing a deck of cards in one minute forty seconds. According to Foer, memory training is a lost art that dates from antiquity. 'Today we have books, photographs, computers and an entire superstructure of external devices to help us store our memories outside our brains, but it wasn't so long ago that culture depended on individual memories,' writes Foer. 'It was considered a form of character-building, a way of developing the cardinal virtue of prudence and, by extension, ethics.' Foer says that the secret to supermemory is a system of training and discipline that works by creating 'memory palaces' on the fly filled with lavish images, painting a scene in the mind so unlike any other it cannot be forgotten. 'Photographic memory is a detestable myth. Doesn't exist. In fact, my memory is quite average,' concludes Ed Cooke who recently invented a code that allows him to convert every number from 0 to 999,999,999 into a unique image that he can then deposit in a memory palace. 'What you have to understand is that even average memories are remarkably powerful if used properly.'"
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