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Ian Goddard igoddard at erols.mom
Fri Apr 5 21:56:16 EST 2002

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



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