World Memory Champion takes plunge with croc


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 today to showcase the extreme memory skills that have made him world famous.

Charles Darwin University is hosting the current world memory champion, Jonas von Essen, this month 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 accurately recite 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 is assisting 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. He will also deliver a public seminar at CDU Casuarina campus, Mal Nairn Auditorium on Wednesday, 15 April from 5:30pm.

“I have been sharing my expertise on the subject and everything that I have learnt about what to do and what not to do in regard to memory techniques,” he said. “As a student myself I know how improving memory can assist with my studies.

“All of my techniques are based on converting whatever I want to memorise into images and stories and then associating these images with different places or other images so that I know exactly where to look for them when I need them. This probably does not sound as if it would be extremely helpful, but in fact it makes it possible for anyone to memorise thousands of things.”

Jonas is working with the IMPS team to narrate and guide students through examples of the five broad memory enhancing techniques of Elaboration, Emotional State, Visual and Spatial, Narrative and Creativity.

IMPS Team MOOC co-ordinator Karin Pfister said that MOOC users would be invited into five rooms (one for each technique) 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.

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