Superior Autobiographical Memory: Remembering Every Day of Your Life

If you haven’t seen it yet, check out the 60 Minutes documentary on ‘superior autobiographical memory’ called Endless Memory. The documentary covers five people who appear to remember every day of their lives. Definitely check it out, because it may change your ideas about memory:

UPDATE: Yan left a comment below that links to this article [link updated] which provides an alternative explanation.

[Update: unfortunately the videos were removed by CBS News, so they no longer appear here.]

See also:

Do you think this condition is purely biological, or could it be a skill that might have been acquired by accidentally stumbling across certain habits while young?

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John

John 19 Sep 2021

Thanks for sharing this movie. I think it's possible to train your autobiographical memory, simply by doing things like consciously remembering what happened during the course of a day and writing a journal.

Yan

Yan 19 Sep 2021

I always take these kind of claims with a grain of salt. So I did my little research.

Here is an unbiased article on Jill Price with a similar condition, known as hyperthymestic syndrome.

http://www.wired.com/medtech/health/magazine/17-04/ff_perfectmemory?currentPage=1

You'll find at the end that the author states that this syndrome does not account for Price's extraordinary autobiographical memory but the fact that she has a sort of OCD on her past. She spends most of her times contemplating her past, collecting memorabilia and keeping diaries of each single event, every day in her life.

http://www.wired.com/medtech/health/magazine/17-04/ff_perfectmemory?currentPage=3

Josh Cohen

Josh Cohen 19 Sep 2021

Very interesting -- thanks for the links... :)

Joel Wapnick

Joel Wapnick 19 Sep 2021

Interesting article, but I don't think the OCD explanation holds entirely. Remember that for the 60 Minutes people, their brain scans were decidedly non-normal. They differ from Jill Price in this respect.

More relevant for this site, is anyone up to suggesting a mnemonic scheme for recalling one's autobiographical history?

Lembran Sar

Lembran Sar 19 Sep 2021

I've been pinning memory tags to a mental calendar since reading about hyperthymesia on 17 December 2011. I reasoned if the brain has that capacity, perhaps it is a matter of habit rather than ability.

So far it is working well - I can remember every day since then.

It seems to be getting easier with practice and as the techniques I'm using develop, not harder as the days pile up. There are also positive effects on my memory and relationships.

How well it will as months become years remains to be seen.

Another Look at Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory — Mnemotechnics.org 19 Sep 2021

[...] Josh Cohen on October 6, 2012 Here is another article about Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory or “HSAM”: People with HSAM tend to obsess over events (even mundane ones) more than [...]

Josh Cohen

Josh Cohen 19 Sep 2021

Unfortunately, the video says that it can't be viewed in the US.

It seems from the other article mentioned here that they are all spending a lot of time mentally reviewing dates. It might not have to be written down over and over. I wonder if there are any who don't even keep a basic diary.

How is your experiment going?

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