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World Memory Champion takes plunge with croc

By Leanne Miles

Jonas von Essen tests his memory skills under pressure Jonas von Essen tests his memory skills under pressure

The World Memory Champion has put his memory to the test taking to the Cage of Death at Crocosaurus Cove in Darwin to showcase the extreme memory skills that have made him world famous.

Charles Darwin University hosted the current world memory champion, Jonas von Essen, recently to share his memory secrets and tips as he assists with the creation of a new memory course.

After being submerged for several minutes to memorise a list of 30 cyclone names and the years they impacted the Northern Territory, Jonas surfaced to recite accurately the full list in order.

Hailing from Gothenburg, Sweden, Jonas von Essen who is studying to be a maths teacher became interested in competing in memory competitions by chance. He scored the most points ever recorded to take out the championship in 2013, and successfully defended his title in December 2014.

“I was just strolling around in my local library when I happened to see a book entitled ‘Anyone can get an amazing memory’,” Jonas said. “I tried the techniques in it and almost immediately noticed that I could memorise amazingly much more than I could just some minutes ago; it felt really awesome.”

While in Darwin he assisted the university’s Innovative Media Production Studio (IMPS) team, which is creating a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on memory that will be available for enrolment later this year.

IMPS Team MOOC co-ordinator Karin Pfister said that MOOC users would be invited into five rooms (one for each of five broad memory-enhancing techniques of Elaboration, Emotional State, Visual and Spatial, Narrative and Creativity) to complete memory exercises.

“Users will be invited into the ‘Memory Palace’ and into virtual three-dimensional rooms, where they will be able to click on objects to complete various aspects of the course,” Ms Pfister said. “Exercises may include a video, interactive or game. Participants will also be able to test how their memory has improved before leaving the room.”

Ms Pfister said CDU’s memory MOOC was distinct from others because of its interactive nature, and that it incorporated actual course material from CDU award programs.

“Various CDU schools will have course materials incorporated into the MOOC so students can memorise and retain information they need to learn for their studies,” she said.