Mysteries of Photographic Memory

Photographic memory is a mental phenomenon understood by few, and possessed by still fewer. What most believe to be photographic memory is in fact termed eidetic memory – the ability to recall sensory events accurately and with tremendous detail, as though the event was occurring at the moment it is recalled. Though eidetic memory exists, outstanding feats of memory are most likely simply the result of that crazy little notion called perseverance. In a world where technological devices basically make the human memory obsolete and it is rarely considered “cool” to work hard to improve your knowledge base, what is the intrigue behind the photographic memory?

photographic memory

Eidetic vs. Photographic Memory

Though these terms are often in contention, memory experts agree that photographic memory is a culturally contrived word, where as scientific tests can prove the existence of eidetic memory. Those who have eidetic memory are referred to as “eidetickers,” and are capable of recalling images earlier introduced to them by claiming to see the image as vivid as if it was still physically before their eyes. Because of the persistent misinterpretation of photographic memory, many think that eidetic memory denotes a complete recall of any given event at any given moment as if looking at a photograph. But in fact, eidetic memory is as individual in its characteristics and occurrences as are the people who are believed to be eidetickers.

Eidetickers remember very detailed information about an event, but the intensity of the recollection varies depending on the frequency, familiarity and duration of the exposed event to the individual. Mnemonic devices are the most common way any person actually remembers an event or information, but an eideticker is supposed to be in no need on relying on such mental tactics.

Memory Claims and Realities

Many famous faces throughout history and pop culture have alleged to possess a photographic memory such as Impressionist painter Claude Monet and U.S. President Teddy Roosevelt, to actor Desi Arnaz and fashion stylist Rachel Zoe. However, researchers insist that memory powers on the eidetic or so-called photographic level are extremely rare in adults. Eidetic capabilities are most often seen in children, with an occurrence rate of roughly 2-15%, due to the fact that adult minds are most likely to be cluttered with years of stored information and junk. An individual’s level of recall, a well-trained memory, or people who are otherwise developmentally disabled often have great memories without calling their abilities eidetic. In reality, an efficient and well organized memory bank beats out hearsay and fodder any day. And so it seems that those who claim to possess great memory skills should at least remember to do some research on the subject before making any grandiose claims.

Curious about how your memory skills stand? Try this photographic memory game to test your level of recall and build memory strength.

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