Just six weeks of training can turn average people into memory masters.
Boosting these prodigious mnemonic skills came with overhauls in brain activity, resulting in brains that behaved more like those of experts who win World Memory Championships competitions, scientists report March 8 in Neuron.
In an initial matchup, a group of 17 memory experts, people who place high in World Memory Championships, throttled a group of people with average memories.
Before and after training, nonexperts underwent scans that pinpointed brain areas that were active at the same time, an indication that these brain areas work together closely.
The results suggest that large-scale changes across the brain, as opposed to changes in individual areas, drive the increased memory capacity.
These new memory skills were still obvious four months after training ended, particularly for the people whose brain behavior became more similar to that of the memory experts.
No such brain changes or big increases in memory skills were seen in the other groups.