What is Photographic Memory

Photographic memory, scientifically known as eidetic memory, is the ability of an individual to accurately recall images, sounds, and objects in their entirety just by memory.

It is a remarkable ability that has largely remained not that well understood even by most experts in psychology and other fields of neuroscience. The term "eidetic" was taken from the Greek word "eidos" which means image or form. Eidetic memory gives an individual the ability to remember things and events so vividly as if everything has been retained completely in the mind.

There are several ways in which individuals can exhibit photographic memory. People with photographic memory are able to retain and remember an unlimited amount of information more accurately than any other average person.

Some people are able to recall events with extreme accuracy even long after they happen. It seems that these people may have these events remembered so vividly that they take on photographic quality, hence the term used for such ability. Some experts have correlated photographic memory with the flashbulb memory phenomenon that can sometimes be experienced by most people.

This phenomenon is characterized by the ability of people to totally recall certain events that happened during heightened states of emotion. Some experts then believed that memories produced by such a phenomenon is said to be permanently etched in the mind of an individual. But later studies have shown that such a memory do indeed fade after some time, depending on the level of attachment that a person still has on the event emotionally.

In the case of people displaying photographic memory, the ability of total recall seems to take place almost all of the time. It can be differentiated from that of the flashbulb memory phenomenon in that photographic memory does not rely on a person being on a certain heightened emotional state in order to work.

This incredible ability of total recall through memory still remains to be quite difficult to study since there are only a few isolated cases of people having photographic memory known. What experts have offered as of now are certain theories as to how photographic memory may work or function in an individual. Experts still are in the dark as to how it really works from the neurological standpoint.

Scientists also are at odds with some experts who believe that there is actually no such thing as a photographic memory. Skeptics attribute the remarkable abilities of people to remember things so vividly to their ability to organize certain types of information.

This theory was highly based on the experiments that were done by psychologist Adriaan de Groot. In one experiment, chess Grandmasters, who were noted for their ability to recall surprising amounts of information from memory, were made to memorize complex positions of chess pieces. They recalled the positions from memory far better than non-experts.

But when the said Grandmasters were shown several arrangements of chess pieces that can never occur in a game, the Grandmasters can only recall as much as the non-experts. The said experiment displayed evidence that some exceptional powers of recall can be attributed more into the development of enhanced memory techniques rather than any innate difference in brain function or structure.


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