Discover the church of Saint-Germain-en-Laye
Discover the church of Saint-Germain-en-Laye

Discover the church of Saint-Germain-en-Laye

In extreme cases, like those of Kim Peek and Solomon Shereshevsky, memory skills can reportedly inhibit social skills. Eidetic memory describes the ability to retain memories like photographs for a short time. Sense-related memories, of course, can also be preserved long-term.


The experiment was intended to investigate chess grandmasters’ ability to memorize positions of chess pieces on a chessboard. When those chess experts were provided with arrangements that were inconsistent with a real chess game, their performance was about the same as non-experts. These results indicate that the eidetic ability of those chess grandmasters were not innate, but a learned strategy with certain types of information. Wilding and Valentine searched for people claiming to have an eidetic or otherwise superior memory via public media. Out of the 31 people who called in, only three actually had a significantly above-average but not eidetic memory.

Can you train yourself to have an eidetic memory?

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Brown and Kulik, who coined the term, found that many highly emotional memories can be recalled with very accurate details, even when there is a delay after the event. Common mnemonics for memorizing lists of words is through the use of acronym, which is the abbreviation that consists of the initial letter in a phrase or word. For example, HOMES is often used to help remember the names of the Great Lakes of North America.

Individuals identified as having a condition known as hyperthymesia are able to remember very intricate details of their own personal lives, but the ability seems not to extend to other, non-autobiographical information. They may have vivid recollections such as who they were with, what they were wearing, and how they were feeling on a specific date many years in the past. Patients under study, such as Jill Price, show brain scans that resemble those with obsessive–compulsive disorder. In fact, Price’s unusual autobiographical memory has been attributed as a byproduct of compulsively making journal and diary entries. Hyperthymestic patients may additionally have depression stemming from the inability to forget unpleasant memories and experiences from the past.

In some reported cases, individuals show amazing memory abilities that are neither focused specifically on personal experience or connected to a savant syndrome. Another person called “MM” was described as being able to name all Olympic medalists and the winning times and scores, along with other kinds of historical facts, despite being unsure how he was able to do so. One well known case of superior recall ability through synesthesia is the case of Solomon Shereshevskii also known as “S”. This ability was discovered during a work meeting where Shereshvskii was scolded for not taking notes until he was able to perfectly recite the conversation.