Shereshevsky, Soloman - Recalling tables of numbers
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
A R Luria – The Mind of a Mnemonist
At first glance the explanation seems quite simple. He told us that he continued to see the table which had been written on the blackboard or a sheet of paper that he merely had to 'read it off', successively enumerating the numbers or letters it contained. Hence, it generally made no difference to him whether he read the table from the beginning or the end, whether he listed the elements that formed the vertical or the diagonal groups, or read off numbers that formed the horizontal rows. The task of converting the individual numbers into a single, multi digit number appeared to be no more difficult for him than it would be for others of us were we asked to perform this operation visually and given a considerably longer time to study the table.
S. continued to see the numbers he had imprinted in his memory just as they had appeared on the board or the sheet of paper, the numbers presented exactly the same configuration they had as written, so that if one of the numbers had not been written distinctly, S was liable to misread it, to take a 3 for an 8 for example, or a 4 for a 9.