October 29, 2012
I don’t know where you got your information about that mysterious thing called a photographic memory, but I got mine from the Hitchcock movie and John Buchan novel, “The 39 Steps.”
In it, the bad guys had "Mr. Memory" memorize 39 secret steps to some evil classified information, in order to eliminate a paper trail.
The question is does eidetic memory, (technical name) that Mozart, Monet, Tesla, and Jason Bourne, (whose amnesia got in the way), were reported to have, actually exist in real life?
That very question wound up in trial covered by The New York Times:
This is how Kaavya Viswanathan, author of “How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life” (It’s okay if it’s not familiar) explained how she "unintentionally and unconsciously" plagiarized almost 29 passages from the books of another young adult novelist, Megan McCafferty:
"I have a photographic memory." In other words: it just sort of accidentally got stuck there. There went her alibi along with her new contract.
The Hippocampus is the part of the brain where you find “photographic memory,” if it exists.
A “Psychology Today” report on a Harvard instructor attempted to do just that through a succession of grids. With her right eye, she looked for several minutes at apparently random dots—10,000 in all. The next day, using her left eye, she looked at a second grid of 100 x 100 dots.
She then mentally merged the two grids, and could recall eidetic images of a million dots for as much as four hours.
I'm not sure if that's a plus.
Experts believe people that have this gift are just better able to organize information with unusual efficiency.
It’s simply improved recall.
And you can improve your recall, by doing such things as eating leafy green vegetables, getting a good night’s sleep, visualizing and avoiding alcohol.
(I'm waiting for the memory pill that Spanish scientists are rumored to be working on.)
Dr. Marvin Minsky, in his book “The Society of Mind,” was unable to verify claims of eidetic memory and considered it to be an "unfounded myth."
But that still doesn’t mean, I won't believe it if Hollywood tells me.
And if you or anyone you know has an unusually fine memory, and card counting abilities, there's always the next UK Open Memory Championships in London.
Just remember where you got it from.