Memory Tests

Reporter: Laura Sparkes

Who wouldn't want Kerry Doman's powers of total recall at a party! He can meet more than a hundred people and recite their names back in less than 30 minutes. Practice that made professional black jack player and card counter Andrew Scott's memory so perfect, he's been banned from every casino in the country.

Mastering your memory is now even a sport. A Memory Sports Championship and Simon Ordern has just memorised 119 names and faces he'd never seen before in just 15 minutes. What about the rest of us? How do we fare in the memory stakes? We decided to find out. Today Tonight conducted a memory test putting short term, long term and visual memory under the microscope with the help of 24 volunteers.

Our volunteers had 20 seconds to memorise 10 items they ticked from a shopping list. Our 24 contestants managed to remember an average of 7 out of 10 of the items. They were then given 20 seconds to memorise 8 faces and 8 occupations. When it came time to recalling the jobs they remembered an average of 4 out of 6 occupations. When it came to names, our volunteers could only remember half.

The visual tests asked to them to examine two identical photos except for one difference. Woman were 80% correct compared to 30% of the boys. Our volunteers had 20 seconds to remember as much as they could about a sentence. This test was telling... half an hour later, our volunteers had total recall about the sentence, answering every question correctly. Seems our test subjects recalled small bits of information in their long term better than lots of information in their short term memory.

Author of the Memory Book, Professor Janet Wiles has unlocked the simple ways to strengthening the memory and it all starts early. "If we have this richer mental life when were younger - it seems our memory systems are preserved longer, and we have some extra benefit as get older."

But the good news is that latest research suggests that contrary to popular belief, our memory banks continue to evolve and grow as we get older and the key is exercise - both mental and physical.

So few tips to help improve your memory... remembering peoples names?

"When you want to remember the name - practise it, make a rhyme out of it - make a picture with it in it so you're getting a rich representation and taking time" says Pro Janet Wiles.

Remembering where you left your keys last?

"The key to this is good habits. So when you put your glasses down, always put them on a shelf, when you put your keys down - always put them in the same place, maybe by the phone."

Remembering how to operate new technology?

"A 5 year old might pick up a new toy 10 times in an hour - pick it up, play with it, put it down, they're not afraid of breaking it or playing with it. Picking up new technology is the same, don't be afraid to play with it."

"The message is physical and mental exercise, good friends, healthy foods, use it or lose it and have a rich life."

The Memory Book is packed with tips and techniques to ensure that we continue to manage our memory well and stay fresh and alert. It is the ideal book for anyone who would like to have a better memory.

The Memory Book can be purchased from ABC Shops or order by phone on 1300 360 111.