Just came back from St. Louis where I was kindly invited to the Washington University in St. Louis's Memory Lab to participate in various memory studies. What an amazing experience! While most people whom I talk to about memory are usually very interested in the topic of memory, I have never been around so many memory "nerds" all at once (I use that word in the most endearing way) who are as knowledgeable and passionate. It was such a nice breath of fresh air. WUSTL is apparently (and I was unaware of this before I went) THE memory research center in America, and their Alzheimer's research is second to none. I felt honored and privileged to have been asked to participate in their program.
I can't go into any of the details of the tests since there are some memory friends of mine that will be going there to do the same tasks over the next few months, but I will say this: it was absolutely mentally exhausting. People often ask me if memorizing a lot, for long periods of time, makes my mind feel "heavy" or "full." The answer is no, never. But, over the past two days, going through all those long, arduous memory tasks, and then sticking me in an fMRI machine, my mind ended up feeling like spaghetti squash. It was probably a result of having to focus for so long more than having to memorize a lot though, but still, I was mentally exhausted.
I won't know the outcome of my results for a while, but I do know that for a lot of the tasks, I was able to max them out (not always easily though). Some of the tasks were very interesting and some were totally bizarre, but the areas of memory that each tested were fascinating to learn about once the tast was completed. It was also nice to be able to talk about the little things that have fascinated me throughout my journey to becoming the memory champ with others and have them actually care and be scientifically interest.
Bottom line is that WUSTL is doing some incredible stuff and I'm hoping to work closely with them on projects down the road. There was even a light-hearted discussion about the possibility of them hosting a memory competition of their own some time in the next year, which I think would be a superb idea. So we'll see!
Oh yeah, Ben Pridmore participated in the same study last year. He also participated in a cool advert for the Bilbao museum. Check it out: