Understanding how superior memory works may help to improve memory in the general population and in the memory-impaired, but the specific neural mechanisms behind exceptional memory performance have been unclear. In the December 16 Nature Neuroscience, Eleanor A. Maguire and colleagues at University College London, UK, show that individuals with superior memory use a spatial learning strategy and engage brain regions that are critical for spatial memory (Nature Neuroscience, doi:10.1038/nn988, December 16, 2002).

Maguire et al. applied neuropsychological measures and brain imaging techniques to individuals renowned for outstanding memory who participated in the World Memory Championships. They observed that superior memorizers used a spatial learning strategy and engaged brain regions such as the hippocampus that are critical for memory and for spatial memory in particular. However, superior memory was not driven by exceptional intellectual ability or structural brain differences.

These results may "extend the horizon...

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