People With Super Memories Remember Nearly Every Detail of Their Lives … A Blessing or a Curse?
© 2018 Health Realizations, Inc. Update
People with super memories are able to recall, in detail, nearly every day of their lives. They can recall with stunning accuracy events that occurred on dates decades earlier, or name the exact dates and day of the week upon which major events have occurred.
So far only four people with super memories have been identified.
On the flip side, while they can remember things in striking detail, they are unable to do something that comes quite naturally to most of us: forget.
What Causes “Super Memory”?
So far, scientists have verified four people with rare super memories. After conducting MRI scans on Jill Price, who was the first person confirmed to have a super memory, according to USA Today, they found two “abnormally large” areas in her brain.
According to Larry Cahill, a neuroscientist at the University of California-Irvine who co-leads a project on people with super memory, the two enlarged areas are the caudate nuclei, which is used for memories of automatic habits, and part of the temporal lobe that stores facts, dates and events. It may be that the two areas of the brain are working together and making recall of every day as automatic as routine habits like brushing your teeth, the researchers told USA Today.
The discovery could help uncover some of the mysteries about how memories are formed and kept, or help people with memory disorders.
Three of the four people who are identified as having a super memory, all men, seem unbothered by the unusual skill. But according to Price, the vivid memories torment her.
Cahill told USA Today, “She sees daily life in a kind of "split-screen," with present-day events, songs, smells, even TV programs cuing her back to detailed memories that she can't squelch.”
It could be that gender differences in men’s and women’s brains are accounting for the differing opinions regarding having a super memory.
Sleeping helps your brain to “solidify” newly learned skills.
What Can You do to Improve Your Memory?
For the bulk of the population, the problem is not an overly vivid memory, but rather one that can be foggy. Generally, your memory starts a gradual decline around the ripe old age of 25, according to University of Michigan psychologist Denise Park.
"Younger adults in their 20s and 30s notice no losses at all, even though they are declining at the same rate as people in their 60s and 70s, because they have more capital than they need," says Park in Scientific American.
Though the gradual loss of memory is nothing to worry about, you may begin to have trouble recalling certain facts or multi-tasking when you reach your mid-60s and beyond. Fortunately, there are numerous things you can do to keep your brain, and your memory, in tip-top condition.
- Get a Good Night’s Sleep. When you learn a new skill, the memories are vulnerable until they are "solidified" in your brain. It appears that sleeping plays a key roll in this process, which may explain why infants, who are constantly learning new skills, require so much more sleep than adults. If you have difficulty getting the sleep you need each night, try nightly sleep meditations and or prayer. Both are said by many to help them fall asleep faster, wake up less throughout the night and feel more rested in the morning.
- Stay Physically Active. Exercise increases blood flow to your brain and has been found to delay or prevent age-related mental decline, and may even provide memory improvement, according to the Mayo Clinic.
- Challenge Your Mind. A study in The New England Journal of Medicine found that seniors who participated in mentally challenging activities about once a week for a 20-year period reduced the risk of dementia by 7 percent. Those who engaged in these activities more often reduced their risk even more -- by 63 percent!
- Eat Healthy Foods. Fruits and veggies of all kinds contain antioxidants that are good for your body and your brain. Apples seem to be particularly beneficial.
"Apples have just the right dose of antioxidants to raise levels of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that's essential to memory and tends to decline with age," says Tom Shea, PhD, director of the University of Massachusetts Lowell Center for Cellular Neurobiology and Neurodegeneration Research, in Prevention.