Italy Mind Master May Hold Key to Memory Gene
Thu Apr 4, 5:21 PM ET
By Stephanie Holmes
ROME (Reuters) - An Italian scientist said on Thursday that he
believes a 24-year-old's amazing memory may one day reveal the
secrets of recall and help to find the memory gene.
Gianni Golfera is the third generation of his family to have a
gift for remembering. His grandfather and father are both able
to recall vast swathes of information with ease.
"In the future I think we will be able to study him and see if
there is some kind of genetic imprint," said neurobiologist
Antonio Malgaroli, based at the San Raffaele hospital in Milan.
Malgaroli and his research team hope to identify the individual
genes that code for memory.
The DNA that makes up genes writes the recipe for the proteins
that make everything from muscle tissue to hair. Scientific
research has concentrated on genes linked with the decline
of memory through diseases like Alzheimer's.
"If we could gather together a hundred people with the same
memory capacity as him and study their genetic pattern we could
see if there was some kind of clustering," he said.
But Golfera, from the northern city of Ravenna, says that, apart
from his relatives, he has yet to meet anyone like him.
His grandfather remembers entire volumes of classical texts and
his father, a pilot, has no need for maps when flying.
Golfera has been stunning people with feats of recall from a
very early age and developed his own memory method after
translating a Latin 1582 text at the tender age of 12.
"I translated Giordano Bruno's treatise from Latin on the art
of memory and began to develop my own style," Golfera said.
The memory technique means Golfera simply has no need to carry
around a diary or consult an address book.
"I can remember the names of 100 people just introduced to me,
recite word for word a two-hour speech and if you give me a
numbered list of 1,000 words I can list the words in order or
tell you where they are placed," he said.
Golfera's method of recall involves linking numbers or words
to a familiar mental place.
"It is a different way of thinking--each concept is translated
into pictures and these are inserted into a pre-memorized place.
It's like a system of rooms which hold the information," he
Malgaroli, who uses Golfera as an example of the potential power
of the mind, says he hopes minds like Golfera's will bring science
one step closer to understanding memory.
"We would need to identify the genes for memory, the key proteins
involved. We are still a long way off but I hope we might get
there in the next couple of decades," he added.
"To lengthen thy life, lessen thy meals." Ben Franklin