UT Prof Demonstrates Memory in TV Segment

KNOXVILLE — A University of Tennessee-Knoxville psychology instructor will appear on NBC’s “Dateline” Dec. 13 to display the phenomenal memory that put him in the Guinness Book of World Records several years ago.

Dr. Rajan Mahadevan’s appearance on the newsmagazine will be in a segment on whether mental abilities like memory are learned or hereditary.

In 1981, Mahadevan was listed in the Guinness records for correctly reciting the mathematical constant, pi, to 31,811 digits. Psychologists use the digits of pi, which is an endless number expressing the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, as a memory test.

A native of Madras, India, Mahadevan has been involved in studies of memory at Kansas State University, the University of Minnesota and Florida State University, where he earned a doctoral degree in psychology.

Mahadevan said psychological research indicates memory is an acquired skill that can be taught and learned.