, Volume 29, Issue 4, pp 634-638

Taxi drivers’ exceptional memory of street names

Abstract

In this paper, we explore the nature of taxi drivers’ serial recall of street names. The main question is whether the memory of verbal material benefits from the possibility of using visuospatial associations and knowledge concerning large-scale environment. In two experiments, expert taxi drivers’ recall of street names was superior to that of control groups. In Experiment 1, experts’ superiority of memory was greater when the street names reflected a visuospatially continuous route than when the street names were located along a straight line across the map without spatial continuity or were presented in random order. In Experiment 2, the expert taxi drivers recalled spatially continuously organized lists much better than they recalled lists of street names belonging to the same semantic category or lists presented in alphabetical order. This result also suggests that interitem associations, which are based on spatial co-occurrence, are efficient in comparison with other mnemonics.

This research was supported by The Academy of Finland and the Anna S. Elonen Foundation.