You searched for: “hyperthymestic syndrome
hyperthymestic syndrome, hyperthymesia
A condition involving individuals who have a superior autobiographical memory (from Greek thymesis, "remember, memory").

The unusual characteristic of hyperthymesia is that the person has an extraordinary capacity to recall specific events from his/her personal past.

Remembering every day of one's life in extraordinary detail

  • Mention any date since 1980 and a 42-year-old woman in California remembers every day of her life since her teens.
  • She can relate where she was, what she was doing, and what made the news on any of the days.
  • Having a normal healthy memory isn't just about retaining the significant things.
  • Far more important is being able to forget the insignificant occurrences.
  • Initial tests indicated that the woman was able to correctly identify the dates of every Easter for 24 years, plus where she was and what she was doing on those dates.
  • Generally, a memory is formed in three stages: first it is encoded, then stored, and later retrieved.
  • It is possible that hyperthymestics carry out these three tasks with much greater efficiency than people in general.
  • The extraordinary memory of hyperthymestics could also be explained by a failure of the strategies their brains use to forget the things they don't need to remember.
  • Efficient forgetting is a crucial part of having a fully functioning memory.
—Excerpts from "Unforgettable" by Jessica Marshall,
a science writer based in Saint Paul, Minnesota;
as seen in New Scientist, February 16, 2008; pages 30-33.
This entry is located in the following unit: hyper-, hyp- (page 16)