What We Know About the People Who Can Remember Everything



By Yasmin Tayag

After mentally peacing out and drifting through the weekend, most of us would find it hard to recall what happened just a few days ago. People with HSAM — highly superior autobiographical memories — don’t have that problem. In fact, they’d be able to recall exactly what happened a month, a year, or even a decade ago in exact detail.

While this intensive total recall can suck for HSAM subjects — their memories of a gut-wrenching break-up or a mortifying faux pas are only made worse by the cruelly faithful emotional detail attached to them — neuroscientists think that understanding their rare condition could hold the key to memory enhancement.

As David Robson at the BBC wrote recently, people with HSAM can recall the minutiae of specific dates and times in their lives, down to the weather, the clothes they were wearing, and even the art hanging on the walls at any given moment. Having HSAM, it seems, is more than just having a photographic memory: It’s as if the brain has its own reality-TV camera crew that never stops filming — or replaying scenes.

Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory (HSAM), https://t.co/wsrk4pcvYP .. BBC Jan 25, 2016. fantasizing. absorption

— Richard Harper (@harpersnotes) January 31, 2016

Researchers at UC Irvine, who have spearheaded research in this field, think this strange gift can be chalked up to two factors they call “fantasy proneness” and “absorption,” two psychological measures in which people with HSAM score highly. Absorption refers to the idea that HSAM subjects are more fully immersed in daily life — they feel more, see more, hear more — and so, in a sense, are able to document their lives in HD, while the rest of us are buffering much of the —> Read More