How Can You Be As Brainy As Sherlock Holmes? That’s Easy: By Developing Your Own Mind Palace…

As we all know, Arthur Conan Doyle’s literary creation Sherlock Holmes solves his crimes with the help of memory journeys that he stores in his super-human brain. In a shocking twist, scientists have revealed that real life is a lot closer to fiction than we thought. Much like Sherlock, we also have the ability to create our own “mind palaces”…

A team of neuroscientists in the US, Germany and the Netherlands have cleverly come up with a method to retain facts as easily as Mr Holmes. At least, they say it’s easy – but we’re not 100% convinced. How easy is it to place names, pictures, words and numbers along an imaginary route in our mind? We’re not sure – but what scientists are pretty adamant about is this: if we can master the process we could all improve our memory by doubling – or even trebling – the number of facts we can store in our brain.

As part of their research, the neuroscientists studied the brains of 17 “memory athletes” (yes, that’s really a thing) and 51 normal people (let’s call them “civilians”) in an fMRI scanner as they attempted to learn lists of 72 words. The result was surprising: the memory athletes were able to recall 71 on average, whereas the rest managed 26.

When researchers looked into why exactly this was possible when they couldn’t spot any structural differences between these brains, they discovered something particularly fascinating: the brain connections were connected differently in the brains of the “memory athletes”.

So, where do we sign up – and what’s the catch? Well, as with most things it’s time. According to the research, published in the journal Neuron, in order to achieve peak-Sherlock we’d have to dedicate 30 minutes of every day, for the next month and half, to this method. Which, let’s face it, eats into our Netflix sofa time a bit…

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