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how to be a genius

You can use long term memory as well as short term

by Tamara Traubman

Rudier Gumm, a 26-year-old German, needs only a few seconds to calculate in his head
complex calculations. Thus, for example, he solves how much is 53 to the power of nine;
He can divide two prime numbers, like 31 divided by 61 and give
Answer of a sixty-digit decimal fraction.

But it turns out that his method is quite simple. Dr. Nathalie Zorio-Mazoire
and her colleagues from the University of Cannes in France, who published the results of their research
In the January issue of the scientific journal "Nature Neuroscience" they investigated
Gam's brain activity while he performed complex calculations
Using an imaging device called a positron emission tomography (PET),
And compared his brain scans to the scans of six other people his age.
According to some experts, anyone can develop such a talent.

Most people easily perform simple arithmetic operations such as multiplying three
Seven, but more complex operations, such as 37 times 67, are not stored
in memory, and to solve them a series of calculations must be performed. doing actions
Invoicing is a complex mental skill that involves several steps, during which you
The intermediate results must be kept in memory until they are used, then
Forget them to keep a minimal load on the memory. to calculate,
For example, how much is 68 multiplied by 76, seven steps and six results are needed

According to Dr. Zorio-Mazoire, the participants in the control group relied on performance
Their calculations on the limited capacity of short-term memory - the limited
For a few minutes at most. Gam developed an ability to utilize long term memory
Long - that stays for days, weeks and even throughout life - to use
in the large amounts of information relevant to the task.

Dr. Brian Butterworth, memory researcher from "University College"
London, who wrote a commentary accompanying the study, defined it as "pioneering". he
He added that "until now almost nothing was known about the neural basis of those with exceptional mental abilities".

It is not clear how Gam acquired his skill. According to him, at school he was "very bad at math". At the age of twenty he heard about an algorithm that could be used to calculate the day of the week on any date, past or future. He started calculating "for fun", then he heard about a televised competition promising prizes for solving invoice problems. He trained for the show for four hours every day. Now he makes a living from performances. Gam memorized complete tables of second and third powers and square roots of two-digit numbers. He learned a vast collection of processes and shortcuts, allowing him to solve multi-step problems seconds later.

The results of the study may indicate that the main key to Gam's amazing arithmetic ability is not the level of his brain activity but the fact that he probably acquired the ability to encode information in long-term memory and retrieve it efficiently.
When Gumm calculated (and not just retrieved answers from memory), there was increased activity in four areas of his brain, which was not seen in the control group participants. Three of the areas are related to episodic memory processes, long-term memory that enables personal memories and associative memories (such as making a connection between a certain letter and a certain color). "This allows Gam to bypass the need to rely on the limited capacity of short-term memory and the slowness of long-term encoding," says Dr. Zorio-Mazoire. "Instead of keeping intermediate results in short-term memory, it quickly encodes them in long-term working memory, with hints that facilitate efficient retrieval of the information."

Along with elevations such as gam, one can name musicians who can remember a melody after hearing it once, or waiters who are able to remember the detailed order of twenty diners. Dr. Zorio-Mazoire says that these skills raise a question that remains open: Why do the skills seem to be limited to only one area? Gam, for example, has no extraordinary mathematical abilities, apart from his talent for arithmetic.

With hard work, says Dr. Butterworth, anyone can develop such a skill. "We think of him as a lift, but he is unusual only in something that most of us are not interested in learning."
{Appeared in Haaretz newspaper, 9/1/2001{

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