Memory Man

Reporter: Jonathan Creek

Thirty one year old Tansel Ali is a three times Australian Memory Champion.

Most of us consider a brilliant mind a gift but Tansel doesn't. "I never thought I would be the Australian Memory Champion because I was your average everyday person with a pretty average memory", he said.

Tansel's addicted to unlocking the secrets of a more powerful mind. "We were never really taught how the mind works or what can be accomplished at schools. Having done a bit more research into this, we can use it to memorize loads of information, we can read twice as fast and remember", he said.

And according to Tansel anyone can improve their memory. So here's the test: pensioner John, single mum Leanne and Uni student Brad -- all keen, with open minds.

With two minutes to remember the list, the shoppers have five minutes to put the items in their trolley. It's then off to the classroom where John, Leanne and Brad test their ability to recall names and faces and next it's two minutes to recall a twenty digit number.

John retrieved 9 out of twenty shopping items, only four out of twenty names but an impressive seventeen out of twenty digits. Leanne brought back 13 shopping items, remembered nine names and fourteen numbers. Brad was on a memory roller coaster, just passing the shopping test, remembering only four names but "aceing" the twenty digit number.

Tansel then conducted a half hour crash course in memory techniques, according to him the key is using your imagination. "If you don't associate and visualize you'll just forget it", he said.

Tansel teaches a number of methods --linking is best for a short list of random items. For it to work you need to substitute numbers down a regular list with an object that rhymes, and memorize it -- one is a bun, two a shoe, three is tree, etc. If chocolate and milk are at the top of Tansel's list he imagines a "chocolate bun" and "milk in his shoe". "The more stupid you make it the easier it is to remember", he said.

The journey method is even more powerful and involves creating a story in your mind, involving a set of familiar, pre-determined locations that you travel through, usually your house.

We put John, Brad and Leanne back to work, first a new twenty digit number. John and Brad remembered every one and Leanne only missed one.

Then it was time for twenty new names and faces. Brad improved his score from four to seven, by linking. Leanne also did better -- but only just. And while it was all becoming a bit of a blur for John, Tansel's tips still helped him increase his score from four to five.

Our trio was then given a week to master the methods, before heading back to the supermarket. Leanne and Brad were keen, but John forgot to turn up. With both using the journey method, Leanne dropped five items back to eight.

"Because she focused solely on trying to remember the story that set her back", Tansel said.

It was a better result for business student Brad, who increased his haul to thirteen.

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