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Guinness Book winner teaches tips to expand memory

Dave Farrow, who recalled the exact order of 2,704 playing cards to win himself the title of having the greatest memory in the Guinness Book of Records, told students in his "Millionaire Memory" presentation Tuesday at Niagara University that he soon plans to win back that title.

Farrow, of Toronto, who earned his place in the book in 1996, said from a classroom in Dunleavy Hall that he soon will try to win back the record from Dominic O'Brien of Britain.

O'Brien won the title in 2002 by memorizing 54 packs of cards that were all shuffled together, Farrow said.

"I plan on breaking the record by memorizing 62 decks of cards," the 32-year-old Farrow told the 20 students who attended Tuesday.

For the last decade, Farrow has been earning his money by telling others how to improve their memory. He told Niagara students that they, too, could improve their memory without taking drugs or supplements.

"There are much more efficient ways," he said.

Farrow said teachers diagnosed him with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder when he was going into high school. A teacher also told him he had a mild form of dyslexia, he said.

"In my case, it wasn't that severe, but the label, it bothered me more than anything."

Farrow said he particularly wanted to prove to one teacher who told him that he wouldn't amount to much that he could indeed go on to be successful.

"I went on a mission, and I got really good at the techniques," Farrow said. Of his trick of memorizing cards, Farrow said, "it actually takes me about five minutes to memorize a deck" of shuffled cards.

He told his students, most of whom were not of the traditional college age of 17 to 21, that they could work to learn to improve their memory and be successful.

Donna Kester Phillips, an assistant professor of education at Niagara, attended Tuesday night's class. She said she was there because she found it troubling that she couldn't remember the names of the students in her classes.

"It's absolutely brutal. Some of my colleagues, Bam! They've got it right down," Phillips said of their techniques of remembering students' names.

Farrow told her to pick out a distinguishing feature about each one of her students' faces, because faces don't change like outfits do.

"If somebody has a certain size nose, for example, then you can't disguise that," he said.

Another student said she was able to memorize a list of 20 random items brought up by fellow students, which Farrow wrote on the white board in the classroom.

Farrow taught the students how to connect each of the words and then slowly erased them to test their memories.

Eleanor S. Jacoby of Lewiston said, "I remembered that list, and I was very impressed with that. Sometimes I think my mind is like a colander or sieve."

Niagara County Community College and Niagara University co-hosted the class.


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