Six to ten true cases of hyperthymesia have been confirmed worldwide. People with this trait of super memory show surprisingly detailed memory for specific and general events. One example is the case of AJ (revealed to be school administrator Jill Price).
[AJ can,] given any date in history, … recall what the weather was like on said date, personal details of her life at the time, and other news events that occurred at that time. Details of what AJ recalls may be significant to her in some way, but they may not. Personal meaning does not seem to affect AJ’s memory—she simply recalls everything. Brad Williams, another confirmed case of hyperthymesia, displays similar remarkable memory abilities. For example, when shown a photograph from his past Brad can recall the date it was taken, where it was taken, what he had done that day, and even more detailed information such as the temperature on said day. Rick Barron has also been diagnosed with hyperthymesia and shares the same superior abilities of AJ and Brad. Individuals with hyperthymesia clearly have a superior degree of recall ability.
AJ, one of the most famous cases of hyperthymesia, describes her memory as a “running movie that never stops”. She views the world in “split screen”, with the past constantly playing at the same time as the present. She explains that although “most have called it a gift”, she calls it a “burden”. AJ’s superior memory does not seem to be due to a desire to apply memorizing techniques; her memorization of autobiographical information is non-conscious.
The most plausible explanation comes from a neuroscientist:
…. McGaugh, who coined the term, provides mostly speculation in “A Case of Unusual Autobiographical Remembering”. He suggests that “AJ”‘s superior autobiographical memory is largely the result of specific impairments rather than enhancements. Her sensitivity to cues that trigger her memories suggest that “AJ” has trouble inhibiting episodic-retrieval mode, which is the neurocognitive state required for present stimuli to be interpreted as memory cues. Because she is unable to “turn off” her retrieval mode, the smallest associations may bring on detailed recollections of “AJ”‘s past.
Inhibition in itself is a type of executive functioning, thought to be associated with the right inferior frontal cortex.
Here’s a video:
She was 12 when she began to live two lives at once, a split screen in her mind giving her the present as well as a constant unstoppable replay of the past. You might think of it as being in constant memory refresh mode.
Check out Jill’s book: The Woman who Can’t Forget.
Here’s another video on the topic featuring Jill and Aurelien Hayman: The Boy Who Can’t Forget (Medical Documentary)
The boy who can’t forget a thing: Student can remember what he did, ate, and wore on EVERY day of the last decade.
Wedding and birthdays aside, chances are you would not be able to recall exactly what you were doing on any given date in 2006.
But Aurelien Hayman is different.
Not only can he remember what he did, he can tell you what he was wearing, what he ate, what was in the news and even what the weather was like.
The 20-year-old is one of only a handful of people in the world with hyperthymesia, or highly superior autobiographical memory.
Pick any day from his teenage years and he can recall every detail of it – while most of us will remember no more than 11 events from each year of our life.
Information about conversations he had, programmes he watched and even songs he heard are all part of Aurelien’s astonishing recall.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk
Aurelien says Jill Price’s case was even more strong than his, since she remembers every single day and he uses reference points of certain days. Bob Petrella is another case.
Petrella, 58, is only the fourth person in the United States discovered to have what has been described as a super-autobiographical memory. Give him a date or event and he’s likely to remember it. Sometimes he remembers more about his friends’ lives than they remember about their own.
“He called me, I swear, six years after I had met him,” said Angelo. “I got a telephone message from him one day. He said happy anniversary, we met six years ago today.”
“This guy’s from another planet,” said Challis. “Like ’74 … when Nixon was impeached, I think about … graduating from high school. This guy, he remembers [that] it hailed one day in July or something that same year.”
“It’s Thursday when [Nixon] announced it,” Patrella said.
“See what I’m saying,” said Challis.
Petrella lives a fairly normal life, working in Los Angeles as a producer for the Tennis Channel on cable television. Some people who have known him for years are still stunned by his memory.
The day Princess Diana was killed?
“That was a Saturday and it was Aug. 30, 1997,” he said. “I just remember sitting at home and turning [on] CNN or whatever. It was all over the news … and then the next day the Steelers lost to Dallas, 37-7, which was Aug. 31.”
In a way, we are each learning to live with the way our brain works, negotiating our unique map of all our experiences, filtered as they are. In Jill’s, Bob’s and Aurelien’s cases and for the few others living with hyperthymesia, having limited memory filtering makes a truly unique and amazing life experience.