When a person can recall a picture or scene in vivid detail after its removal, they have a photographic memory.
Can someone learn to develop this skill?
Read on to learn more.
Here’s Why You Can’t Develop a Photographic Memory:
Unfortunately, you can’t learn to have a photographic memory. It is an incredibly rare trait that only a tiny percentage of humans are born with. There is no scientific evidence that a photographic memory is something you can actually develop.
Although pop culture may tell you the opposite, human memory can’t retain a perfect replica of images after they disappear.
However, the scientific community does have a similar phenomenon.
What Is An Eidetic Memory?
Eidetikers are people who can “see” a picture in their mind after being exposed to it, even for just a short time.
A person with eidetic memory can examine the picture in their head and describe it in incredible detail as if it was in front of them. Note, however, that this doesn’t last long as it’s only good for a few minutes.
What Is the Difference Between a Photographic Memory and an Eidetic Memory?
People think that eidetic memory and photographic memory are the same. However, there’s a difference. As the term implies, photographic memory is the perfect recall of a picture, including all of the visual details. Eidetic memory, however, isn’t perfect.
People with eidetic memory can change some visual details and sometimes invent things that can’t be found in the original picture shown to them.
It means that eidetic memory is far from photographic but is recalled from memory. If this is the case, then a person’s cognitive expectations and biases affect eidetic memory.
People identified to possess eidetic memory are primarily children. This ability has no gender bias, which means the likelihood of girls or boys being eidetic is the same.
Although the brain is undoubtedly very powerful, there’s hardly any conclusive data on both these phenomena. However, there are certainly some ways to support the brain and help improve memory.
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How Do You Develop a Better (More Photographic) Memory?
Keeping the brain active is the perfect way to develop a better memory. There are also some techniques to help you better remember things.
Here are some memory training tips:
- Mnemonic Systems: This technique uses patterns to help in remembering things. You can use letters, associations, or images. Here are some mnemonic devices to try.
- Visual images: To remember a name, word, or other things, associate it with an image. In this method, you associate something such as a name with a picture and then recall the image for you to remember the name.
- Acrostic: This is making up a sentence using the initials of the words you want to remember. A classic example is “Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain,” which represents the colors of the rainbow in order.
- Acronym: This is created by getting the first letters of the ideas or words you want to remember and turning them into a new word. Like in the previous example, you can use ROYGBIV to remember the colors of the rainbow. In Math, it’s common to use the acronym PEMDAS to help recall the order of operations.
- Chunking: This technique works by breaking a long list of information, commonly numbers, into shorter, more manageable chunks. For example, you can break down a ten-digit phone number into sets. Instead of memorizing 2649431539, you break it into 264-943-1539.
- Method of Loci: This is also called the memory palace. In this method, you imagine putting the things you need to remember in locations that are familiar to you. For example, you can try imagining bread in your drawer, eggs on the shelves, carrots on the floor, or coffee on the table to help remember a grocery list. This method works best if the imagery you create is silly, irrational, or bizarre.
- Peg system: In this system, you associate the things you’d like to remember to stuff you’re familiar with, like numbers or the alphabet. Imagine a picture of a peg labeled with a number or a letter. You then hang the item you’d like to remember on the peg.
- Proper nutrition: We function our best when we are healthiest. So it is crucial to have a well-balanced diet that has us performing at our best. Healthy fats play a significant role in this, as our brains are actually made out of (60%) primarily fat. Various nuts, salmon, and eggs are great examples of “brain” foods that can help develop your brain and thus your memory.
How Can I Train My Brain to Remember More?
Aside from spatial and visual memory techniques, there are other ways you can train the brain to remember more information.
The methods outlined here are also helpful for students trying to take in a lot of information and remembering them. Keep in mind, however, that some memory loss is normal to occur as we age.
Try the following memory technique tips to stay sharp:
- Understand the information: If the information is organized and makes sense, it should be simpler to remember. If you’re unfamiliar with the material, take the time to understand it before attempting to remember it.
- Connect details: Link the information you’re trying to remember to things that you already understand. If it’s difficult, you can even make up a strange connection. For example, if you’re trying to remember that 32 degrees Fahrenheit is the freezing point of water and 32 are the last digits of your phone number. You can more easily remember by imagining a picture of your phone stuck in ice/frozen water.
- Sleep: The brain stores and processes information while we sleep. You can review the information you want to remember before going to sleep, even for just a few minutes. As a child, I had difficulty remembering the process of adding or subtracting dissimilar fractions. I practiced a lot after reviewing the topic, and before sleeping, I imagined myself solving problems. Unbelievably, it helped me a lot to perfect the process.
- Follow it up: Ask yourself now and then by recalling the information you’re trying to remember. Do this consistently, and don’t just review notes to help you identify difficult areas. If you find some information hard to remember, go back to the memory techniques you’ve learned.
- Practice: For you to develop your long term memory, the information should not be only memorable but also repeated. Repetition will help store information long-term into your memory. Space out repetition over a few days to check if you have mastered the information.
How Can I Memorize Faster?
We all long to be able to memorize things faster. It would not only make our days of being a student easier, but it also helps with simple everyday tasks. Being able to recall things quickly is pretty much beneficial in all cases.
Here are some simple things you can do to help work on this skill and memorize things fast:
- Pay attention: Without paying attention, it’s impossible to remember things. To help retain information quickly into memory, focus on the details. If you’re distracted, find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed. This may sound like a very simple and obvious answer, but it is crucial. It has been reported that our average attention spans (8 seconds) are now actually shorter than that of goldfish!
- Involve as many senses as possible: Relate information to smell, textures, colors, or tastes. For example, physically writing information down is one way to encode it into your brain. You can then read aloud the information. Try also singing the information or reciting in a sing-song manner.
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Science has failed to prove that photographic memory exists. Although some people, primarily children, show an ability called eidetic memory, their memory isn’t at all photographic. Although it’s impossible to develop photographic memory, you can use the techniques mentioned throughout this article for memory improvement.