Eidetic memory ( // eye-DET-ik; more commonly called photographic memory) is the ability to recall an image from memory with high precision for a brief period after seeing it only once, and without using a mnemonic device. Although the terms eidetic memory and photographic memory are popularly used interchangeably, they are also distinguished, with eidetic memory referring to the ability to see an object for a few minutes after it is no longer present and photographic memory referring to the ability to recall pages of text or numbers, or similar, in great detail. When the concepts are distinguished, eidetic memory is reported to occur in a small number of children and generally not found in adults, while true photographic memory has never been demonstrated to exist.
The word eidetic comes from the Greek word εἶδος (pronounced [êːdos] , eidos ) "visible form".
The terms eidetic memory and photographic memory are commonly used interchangeably,but they are also distinguished. Scholar Annette Kujawski Taylor stated, "In eidetic memory, a person has an almost faithful mental image snapshot or photograph of an event in their memory. However, eidetic memory is not limited to visual aspects of memory and includes auditory memories as well as various sensory aspects across a range of stimuli associated with a visual image." Author Andrew Hudmon commented: "Examples of people with a photographic-like memory are rare. Eidetic imagery is the ability to remember an image in so much detail, clarity, and accuracy that it is as though the image were still being perceived. It is not perfect, as it is subject to distortions and additions (like episodic memory), and vocalization interferes with the memory."
"Eidetikers", as those who possess this ability are called, report a vivid afterimage that lingers in the visual field with their eyes appearing to scan across the image as it is described.Contrary to ordinary mental imagery, eidetic images are externally projected, experienced as "out there" rather than in the mind. Vividness and stability of the image begins to fade within minutes after the removal of the visual stimulus. Lilienfeld et al. stated, "People with eidetic memory can supposedly hold a visual image in their mind with such clarity that they can describe it perfectly or almost perfectly ..., just as we can describe the details of a painting immediately in front of us with near perfect accuracy."
By contrast, photographic memory may be defined as the ability to recall pages of text, numbers, or similar, in great detail, without the visualization that comes with eidetic memory.It may be described as the ability to briefly look at a page of information and then recite it perfectly from memory. This type of ability has never been proven to exist and is considered popular myth.
Eidetic memory is typically found only in young children, as it is virtually nonexistent in adults.Hudmon stated, "Children possess far more capacity for eidetic imagery than adults, suggesting that a developmental change (such as acquiring language skills) may disrupt the potential for eidetic imagery." Eidetic memory has been found in 2 to 10 percent of children aged 6 to 12. It has been hypothesized that language acquisition and verbal skills allow older children to think more abstractly and thus rely less on visual memory systems. Extensive research has failed to demonstrate consistent correlations between the presence of eidetic imagery and any cognitive, intellectual, neurological or emotional measure.
A few adults have had phenomenal memories (not necessarily of images), but their abilities are also unconnected with their intelligence levels and tend to be highly specialized. In extreme cases, like those of Solomon Shereshevsky and Kim Peek, memory skills can reportedly hinder social skills. [ medical citation needed ] Shereshevsky was a trained mnemonist, not an eidetic memoriser, and there are no studies that confirm whether Kim Peek had true eidetic memory.
According to Herman Goldstine, the mathematician John von Neumann was able to recall from memory every book he had ever read.
Skepticism about the existence of eidetic memory was fueled around 1970 by Charles Stromeyer, who studied his future wife, Elizabeth, who claimed that she could recall poetry written in a foreign language that she did not understand years after she had first seen the poem. She also could seemingly recall random dot patterns with such fidelity as to combine two patterns from memory into a stereoscopic image.She remains the only person documented to have passed such a test. However, the methods used in the testing procedures could be considered questionable (especially given the extraordinary nature of the claims being made), as is the fact that the researcher married his subject. Additionally, that the tests have never been repeated (Elizabeth has consistently refused to repeat them) raises further concerns for journalist Joshua Foer who pursued the case in a 2006 article in Slate magazine concentrating on cases of unconscious plagiarism, expanding the discussion in Moonwalking with Einstein to assert that, of the people rigorously scientifically tested, no one claiming to have long-term eidetic memory had this ability proven.
American cognitive scientist Marvin Minsky, in his book The Society of Mind (1988), considered reports of photographic memory to be an "unfounded myth,"and that there is no scientific consensus regarding the nature, the proper definition, or even the very existence of eidetic imagery, even in children.
Lilienfeld et al. stated: "Some psychologists believe that eidetic memory reflects an unusually long persistence of the iconic image in some lucky people". They added: "More recent evidence raises questions about whether any memories are truly photographic (Rothen, Meier & Ward, 2012). Eidetikers' memories are clearly remarkable, but they are rarely perfect. Their memories often contain minor errors, including information that was not present in the original visual stimulus. So even eidetic memory often appears to be reconstructive".
Scientific skeptic author Brian Dunning reviewed the literature on the subject of both eidetic and photographic memory in 2016 and concluded that there is "a lack of compelling evidence that eidetic memory exists at all among healthy adults, and no evidence that photographic memory exists. But there's a common theme running through many of these research papers, and that's that the difference between ordinary memory and exceptional memory appears to be one of degree."
To constitute photographic or eidetic memory, the visual recall must persist without the use of mnemonics, expert talent, or other cognitive strategies. Various cases have been reported that rely on such skills and are erroneously attributed to photographic memory.
An example of extraordinary memory abilities being ascribed to eidetic memory comes from the popular interpretations of Adriaan de Groot's classic experiments into the ability of chess grandmasters to memorize complex positions of chess pieces on a chess board. Initially, it was found that these experts could recall surprising amounts of information, far more than nonexperts, suggesting eidetic skills. However, when the experts were presented with arrangements of chess pieces that could never occur in a game, their recall was no better than the nonexperts, suggesting that they had developed an ability to organize certain types of information, rather than possessing innate eidetic ability.
Individuals identified as having a condition known as hyperthymesia are able to remember very intricate details of their own personal lives, but the ability seems not to extend to other, non-autobiographical information. [ medical citation needed ] They may have vivid recollections such as who they were with, what they were wearing, and how they were feeling on a specific date many years in the past. Patients under study, such as Jill Price, show brain scans that resemble those with obsessive–compulsive disorder. In fact, Price's unusual autobiographical memory has been attributed as a byproduct of compulsively making journal and diary entries. Hyperthymestic patients may additionally have depression stemming from the inability to forget unpleasant memories and experiences from the past. It is a misconception that hyperthymesia suggests any eidetic ability.
Each year at the World Memory Championships, the world's best memorizers compete for prizes. None of the world's best competitive memorizers has a photographic memory, and no one with claimed eidetic or photographic memory has ever won the championship.
There are a number of individuals whose extraordinary memory has been labeled "eidetic", but it is not established conclusively whether they use mnemonics and other, non-eidetic memory-enhancement.[ citation needed ] 'Nadia', who began drawing realistically at the age of three, is autistic and has been closely studied. During her childhood she produced highly precocious, repetitive drawings from memory, remarkable for being in perspective (which children tend not to achieve until at least adolescence) at the age of three, which showed different perspectives on an image she was looking at. For example, when at the age of three she was obsessed with horses after seeing a horse in a story book she generated numbers of images of what a horse should look like in any posture. She could draw other animals, objects and parts of human bodies accurately, but represented human faces as jumbled forms. Others have not been thoroughly tested, though savant Stephen Wiltshire can look at a subject once and then produce, often before an audience, an accurate and detailed drawing of it, and has drawn entire cities from memory, based on single, brief helicopter rides; his six-metre drawing of 305 square miles of New York City is based on a single twenty-minute helicopter ride. Another less thoroughly investigated instance is the art of Winnie Bamara, an Australian indigenous artist of the 1950s.
Drawing is a form of visual art in which an artist uses instruments to mark paper or other two-dimensional surface. Drawing instruments include graphite pencils, pen and ink, various kinds of paints, inked brushes, colored pencils, crayons, charcoal, chalk, pastels, erasers, markers, styluses, and metals. Digital drawing is the act of using a computer to draw. Common methods of digital drawing include a stylus or finger on a touchscreen device, stylus- or finger-to-touchpad, or in some cases, a mouse. There are many digital art programs and devices.
Visual thinking, also called visual/spatial learning or picture thinking is the phenomenon of thinking through visual processing. Visual thinking has been described as seeing words as a series of pictures. It is common in approximately 60–65% of the general population. "Real picture thinkers", those who use visual thinking almost to the exclusion of other kinds of thinking, make up a smaller percentage of the population. Research by child development theorist Linda Kreger Silverman suggests that less than 30% of the population strongly uses visual/spatial thinking, another 45% uses both visual/spatial thinking and thinking in the form of words, and 25% thinks exclusively in words. According to Kreger Silverman, of the 30% of the general population who use visual/spatial thinking, only a small percentage would use this style over and above all other forms of thinking, and can be said to be true "picture thinkers".
A mental image or mental picture is an experience that, on most occasions, significantly resembles the experience of visually perceiving some object, event, or scene, but occurs when the relevant object, event, or scene is not actually present to the senses. There are sometimes episodes, particularly on falling asleep and waking up (hypnopompic), when the mental imagery, being of a rapid, phantasmagoric and involuntary character, defies perception, presenting a kaleidoscopic field, in which no distinct object can be discerned. Mental imagery can sometimes produce the same effects as would be produced by the behavior or experience imagined.
Dual-coding theory, a theory of cognition, was hypothesized by Allan Paivio of the University of Western Ontario in 1971. In developing this theory, Paivio used the idea that the formation of mental images aids learning. According to Paivio, there are two ways a person could expand on learned material: verbal associations and visual imagery. Dual-coding theory postulates that both visual and verbal information is used to represent information. Visual and verbal information are processed differently and along distinct channels in the human mind, creating separate representations for information processed in each channel. The mental codes corresponding to these representations are used to organize incoming information that can be acted upon, stored, and retrieved for subsequent use. Both visual and verbal codes can be used when recalling information. For example, say a person has stored the stimulus concept "dog" as both the word 'dog' and as the image of a dog. When asked to recall the stimulus, the person can retrieve either the word or the image individually, or both simultaneously. If the word is recalled, the image of the dog is not lost and can still be retrieved at a later point in time. The ability to code a stimulus two different ways increases the chance of remembering that item compared to if the stimulus was only coded one way.
Visual memory describes the relationship between perceptual processing and the encoding, storage and retrieval of the resulting neural representations. Visual memory occurs over a broad time range spanning from eye movements to years in order to visually navigate to a previously visited location. Visual memory is a form of memory which preserves some characteristics of our senses pertaining to visual experience. We are able to place in memory visual information which resembles objects, places, animals or people in a mental image. The experience of visual memory is also referred to as the mind's eye through which we can retrieve from our memory a mental image of original objects, places, animals or people. Visual memory is one of several cognitive systems, which are all interconnected parts that combine to form the human memory. Types of palinopsia, the persistence or recurrence of a visual image after the stimulus has been removed, is a dysfunction of visual memory.
"Funes the Memorious" is a fantasy short story by Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges (1899–1986). First published in La Nación of June 1942, it appeared in the 1944 anthology Ficciones, part two (Artifices). The first English translation appeared in 1954 in Avon Modern Writing No. 2.
Visual agnosia is an impairment in recognition of visually presented objects. It is not due to a deficit in vision, language, memory, or intellect. While cortical blindness results from lesions to primary visual cortex, visual agnosia is often due to damage to more anterior cortex such as the posterior occipital and/or temporal lobe(s) in the brain. There are two types of visual agnosia: apperceptive agnosia and associative agnosia.
David Francis Marks is a psychologist, author and editor of twenty-five books largely concerned with four areas of psychological research – health psychology, consciousness, parapsychology and intelligence. He has also published books about artists and their works.
Hyperthymesia is a condition that leads people to be able to remember an abnormally large number of their life experiences in vivid detail. It is extraordinarily rare, with only about 60 people in the world having been diagnosed with the condition as of 2021.
Creative visualization is the cognitive process of purposefully generating visual mental imagery, with eyes open or closed, simulating or recreating visual perception, in order to maintain, inspect, and transform those images, consequently modifying their associated emotions or feelings, with intent to experience a subsequent beneficial physiological, psychological, or social effect, such as expediting the healing of wounds to the body, minimizing physical pain, alleviating psychological pain including anxiety, sadness, and low mood, improving self-esteem or self-confidence, and enhancing the capacity to cope when interacting with others.
Imagination is the ability to produce and simulate novel objects, sensations, and ideas in the mind without any immediate input of the senses. It is also described as the forming of experiences in one's mind, which can be re-creations of past experiences such as vivid memories with imagined changes, or they can be completely invented and possibly fantastic scenes. Imagination helps make knowledge applicable in solving problems and is fundamental to integrating experience and the learning process. A basic training for imagination is listening to storytelling (narrative), in which the exactness of the chosen words is the fundamental factor to "evoke worlds".
Exceptional memory is the ability to have accurate and detailed recall in a variety of ways, including hyperthymesia, eidetic memory, synesthesia, and emotional memory. Exceptional memory is also prevalent in those with savant syndrome and mnemonists.
Cognitive skills, also called cognitive functions, cognitive abilities or cognitive capacities, are brain-based skills which are needed in acquisition of knowledge, manipulation of information, and reasoning. They have more to do with the mechanisms of how people learn, remember, problem-solve, and pay attention, rather than with actual knowledge. Cognitive skills or functions encompass the domains of perception, attention, memory, learning, decision making, and language abilities.
Constructional apraxia is characterized by an inability or difficulty to build, assemble, or draw objects. Apraxia is a neurological disorder in which people are unable to perform tasks or movements even though they understand the task, are willing to complete it, and have the physical ability to perform the movements. Constructional apraxia may be caused by lesions in the parietal lobe following stroke or it may serve as an indicator for Alzheimer's disease.
The development of memory is a lifelong process that continues through adulthood. Development etymologically refers to a progressive unfolding. Memory development tends to focus on periods of infancy, toddlers, children, and adolescents, yet the developmental progression of memory in adults and older adults is also circumscribed under the umbrella of memory development.
Eyewitness memory is a person's episodic memory for a crime or other dramatic event that he or she has witnessed. Eyewitness testimony is often relied upon in the judicial system. It can also refer to an individual's memory for a face, where they are required to remember the face of their perpetrator, for example. However, the accuracy of eyewitness memories is sometimes questioned because there are many factors that can act during encoding and retrieval of the witnessed event which may adversely affect the creation and maintenance of the memory for the event. Experts have found evidence to suggest that eyewitness memory is fallible. It has long been speculated that mistaken eyewitness identification plays a major role in the wrongful conviction of innocent individuals. A growing body of research now supports this speculation, indicating that mistaken eyewitness identification is responsible for more convictions of the innocent than all other factors combined. This may be due to the fact that details of unpleasant emotional events are recalled poorly compared to neutral events. States of high emotional arousal, which occur during a stressful or traumatic event, lead to less efficient memory processing. The Innocence Project determined that 75% of the 239 DNA exoneration cases had occurred due to inaccurate eyewitness testimony. It is important to inform the public about the flawed nature of eyewitness memory and the difficulties relating to its use in the criminal justice system so that eyewitness accounts are not viewed as the absolute truth.
Scott O. Lilienfeld was a professor of psychology at Emory University and advocate for evidence-based treatments and methods within the field. He is known for his books 50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology, Brainwashed, and others that explore and sometimes debunk psychological claims that appear in the popular press. Along with having his work featured in major U.S. newspapers and journals such as The New York Times, The New Yorker, and Scientific American, Lilienfeld has made television appearances on 20/20, CNN and the CBS Evening News.
Spatial ability or visuo-spatial ability is the capacity to understand, reason, and remember the spatial relations among objects or space.
Visuospatial function refers to cognitive processes necessary to "identify, integrate, and analyze space and visual form, details, structure and spatial relations" in more than one dimension.
The term photographic memory is more often used to describe eidetic imagery.
Eidetic memory is sometimes called photographic memory because individuals who possess eidetic memory can reproduce information from memory in exactly the format in which it was provided during encoding.
Iconic memory may help to explain the remarkable phenomenon of eidetic imagery, popularly called 'photographic memory'.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
If a person had iconic memory that did not fade with time, he or she would have what is sometimes called photographic memory (also called eidetic memory), the ability to recall entire images with extreme detail.
...eidetic imagery, sometimes popularly (but in the view of many theoreticians inaccurately) referred to as ‘photographic memory’.
...we often hear about people with 'photographic memories' that enable them to quickly memorise all the fine details of a complicated picture or a page of text in a few seconds. So far as I can tell, all of these tales are unfounded myths, and only professional magicians or charlatans can produce such demonstrations.