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Chimps beat humans in memory test

You have to watch the video footage of this news report – it is incredible.

Recent research shows that chimpanzees have near photographic memories. Memory tests were performed for both chimpanzees and humans. The chimps were far better than the humans. With just a quick glance at the information (less than a second), they could then select hidden numbers in the correct order.

You can read the news report here and there is also some video footage which you must watch. You’ll be amazed.

So why is this? Well, if you have attended any of my memory training courses or perhaps you subscribe to my Brain Training Tips, you will understand that we memorise visual information the fastest. For the chimps, the numbers are simply shapes with no meaning, except that of precedence of the images. So I would guess that they see the layout of the numbers as a visual image. They have learnt the order of these images.

But even so, the speed at which they do this is incredible. Even our very best memorists, those who compete at the World Memory Championships, would struggle to compete.

So what is the implications of this research? Well, for one thing it is rather humbling! Next, it gives us a glimmer of hope that yes, we can take our memories to an even higher level.

My friend and colleague Dominic O’Brien is the eight times World Memory Champion. When he first started breaking memory world records, one of which was memorising the order of three decks of cards, a scientist commented that Dominic was now reaching the limits of human memory. In recent years Dominic has gone on to memorise the order of 54 decks of cards shuffled together.

We are still exploring our memories and discovering what techniques work best for memorisation. This latest information is what is taught on our brain training courses.

Yet these chimpanzees beat us hands down at a memory test without ever learning these skills.


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