Photographic memory refers to having the ability to recall images with great accuracy. The term is sometimes confused with eidetic memory in which someone has the additional ability to remember objects, smells, sounds or anything having to do with the sensory organs. In either instance, the individual remembers the moment after only a brief period of exposure. For some mysterious reason, the brain of someone with the gift of photographic memory seems to take a snapshot that becomes cataloged in the mind for future reference. Some neurological specialists do not believe photographic memory is a reality. And while the majority may never experience the ability, there are ways to enhance recall through training and practice.
Sporadic Eidetic Memory
At various times during a person's life, they may experience an event that is so joyous or so tragic that they recall each moment as if the situation occurred within the last 24 hours. These short bursts of precise remembrance are known as sporadic eidetic memory. The ability often comes when an event deeply affects an individual emotionally, mentally or physically.
Factors Contributing to Photographic Memory
There seems to be a least three common factors involving photographic memory. Two of the three factors are within the grasp of the majority of people.
• Genetics plays a major role in how the brain processes and stores memory. People genuinely having photographic memory possess the ability from birth. The neurons in certain people naturally form the unique communication connections that enable a person to capture an instant and remember the event with extreme precision. As the individual grows and matures, they may find ways to hone the skill. However, for reasons unknown, their brain seems to function differently.
• Training to mimic the ability requires learning to focus intensely without distractions. Individuals also develop their visual skills by taking every aspect of an image into account in a short amount of time. Some suggest viewing a short paragraph in a darkened room with the only light focused solely on the words. After looking at the image for one or two minutes, turn the paper over and test recall word for word. Continue the process daily until able to repeat each word exactly. As the training progresses, gradually shorten the length of viewing time. Alternatives include using photographs or number sequences.
• For the brain to function at optimal levels, individuals must maintain a healthy lifestyle. Proper diet ensures that the brain receives adequate nutrition so neurons may communicate accurately. Routine physical exercise enhances overall blood circulation, which provides the brain with sufficient oxygen and nutrients. Researchers have also discovered that engaging in meditation also enhances neuron communication. A study performed by scientists at the University of Wisconsin involved evaluating a group of Tibetan monks who surprisingly demonstrated higher levels of brain activity, which was contributed to the fact that the clerics were able to hone their concentration through regular meditation.