Memory enthusiasts discuss improving performance on the CFMT – a tip for prosopagnosia researchers?

I’ve just happened across a very short but interesting discussion thread at an online forum for people who are interested in memory techniques. I guess this might include people who take part in formal memory competitions and who employ memory techniques such as the Method of Loci. Two members have discussed the Cambridge Face Memory Test (CFMT). They both claim to have attained very good scores (like myself) and both employed non-cheating memory strategies to at least some degree in their attempts at the test. I find this interesting for a couple of reasons. The strategy that they both apparently independently hit upon, the idea of giving imaginary names to the faces that had to be memorized could possibly be seen as a technique of adding personification or personality traits to their memories of the faces of complete stranges with neutral expressions. One of the memory enthusiasts gave the faces silly made-up names, which I would assume would be references to imagined personality characteristics, ideas that are possibly based on impressionistic, almost instant emotional interpretations of the appearance of the faces. If this is the technique used by these memory enthusiasts that would be interesting, because that is pretty much what I naturally did when I first did that test, but without giving names ot the faces, and I got a perfect score on the test. I believe this has something to do with the ordinal-linguistic personification synaesthesia (OLP) that I have experienced for as long as I can remember.

My guess is that these memory enthusiasts employed this type of strategy because it has some elements in common with the ancient and proven method of loci memory technique. In this technique memory performance in memorizing a large set of meaningless data is enhanced by converting the information to be memorized into a more emotionally striking or interesting visual format and these elements to be memorized are then mentally placed into a previously memorized visual-spatial context. A part of this strategy involves converting the emotionally neutral and monotonous information to be rememberd into a more memorable format. I would argue that personifiying a large set of bland faces of strangers by ascribing imaginary names or personality traits to each of them is doing pretty much the same thing. I have argued in a previous post in this blog that the technique successfully and consciously employed by a prosopagnosic that enhanced his performance in the CFMT in a formal study is similar to my spontaneously-employed personification of the faces when I did the same test. This reportedly face-blind study subject, who was given the anonymous name of M57, figured out his own method of adding an emotional dimension to the faces to be memorized, after having done a number of face recognition tests previously. Is this an example of a super-recognizer with OLP, a prosopagnosic and two memory buffs independently employing similar techiques to enhance performance on the same test? That would be interesting.   Cambridge Face Memory Test

Reflections on The Strange Phenomenon, how I gunned the CFMT, letter personification in advertising and clue to a possible cure for some cases of prosopagnosia after reading an old journal paper.

Duchaine, Brad & Nakayama, Ken The Cambridge Face Memory Test: Results for neurologically intact individuals and an investigation of its validity using inverted face stimuli and prosopagnosic participants. Neuropsychologia 44 (2006) 576–585.

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