London's Science Museum will be brimming with brain power as contestants from across the world take part in the UK Open Memory Competition. In the year of London 2012, organisers are calling it the 'Mental Olympics', with events running over two days. Competition is fierce this year as former 8 times World Champion Dominic O'Brien has come out of retirement to bid for the title.
There are ten disciplines testing memory and speed skills involving names, faces, historical dates, numbers, words, abstract images and playing cards. None of those taking part were born with particularly good memories. Organisers say they've developed their skill by learning special techniques and training for many hours - just like any other sport.
“With every physical or mental skill, if we don’t use it, we lose it. With computers, smart phones, and tablet devices to memorise everything for us, we are losing the skill of memory. But it is not too late!”
The UK event is seen as a warm up for the World Championships which will be held in London in December. The Science Museum was chosen as a venue to encourage some of the thousands of young people who visit every day to learn memory skills and then try them at home.
Tony Buzan, the man who invented Mind Mapping, is President of the World Memory Sports Council which oversees the Championships. Tony, who is a successful author and educational consultant, regularly gives tips on how to remember everyday things:
Names - associate the person with someone you know or a celebrity, eg David Wolf would be David Cameron in a wolf outfit
Shopping - create a story to visualise your shopping list: you buy milk, it flies out of your hand, smashes into the eggs, eggs seep over the bananas etc
Phone numbers - translate numbers into people so 1 is A, 2 is B, 3 is C and so on. So 23 is BC, stands for Bill Clinton. To get numbers in the right order, create a journey bumping into your celebrities along the way.
“The great thing about memory sports is that everyone can compete in them. The Championships are based on fundamental cognitive skills that are essential for everybody’s survival." “All of us, no matter how appalling we might think our memories are, can – with the correct formulae and a little bit of practice - train our brains and memories to function ever more efficiently and effectively." "The contestants at the UK Memory Championship are people just like you and me who’ve trained their own brains at a level reflecting their true potential.”