The Guinness Book of World Records reports that in 1981 Rajan Srinavasen Mahadevan (known as Rajan)
recited the first 31,811 digits of pi from memory and that in 1987 Hideaki Tomoyori broke that record by reciting the first 40,000 digits. People performing such feats of memory are called mnemonists or memorists. Although feats like these are rare, since the 1890s there have been several scientific accounts of people with prodigious memories. Starting with the pioneering work of Alfred Binet, the scientific literature describes over a dozen people showing exceptional memory for verbal materials. Brown and Deffenbacher (1975) give a comprehensive review of these studies. Studies of exceptional memory performance contribute to our understanding of memory by describing the processes memorists use and by comparing them with processes used by people with ordinary memories.
Representative Case Studies
The studies on memorists have shown that they use a variety of techniques to remember material...