Photographic Memory, also known as eidetic or hieratic memory, consists of the ability to encode visual or written information, visually and with a high level of detail. Whoever has it processes the image by eye-scanning it in detail and, hours later, can remember it as if it was still in front of her. It is estimated that only about less than 10% of the population has this ability. However, its real existence is unclear.
There are those who argue that this ability is only possessed by some boys or girls, but once they grow up it wears off. Either because of a lack of training and stimulation. Either because adults tend to code verbally and visually (rather than photographically). Others, that it is directly a myth, because the testimonies always come from those who have the capacity directly instead of cognitive tests and objective evaluations.
What does Photography Memory Consist of?
It is called photographic memory because the material to be memorized is captured as if it were an image. In other words, the person with high eidetic memory remembers everything that appeared in the image or page of a book, as it was located.
This could also be applied to auditory stimuli. In this case, the melody or sounds would be encoded in memory as an image. The amazing thing about this type of memory is that the level of detail is amazing. For example, it is possible to memorize punctuation marks on an entire page.
It has aroused the interest of scientists. However, it has not yet been possible to truly determine its existence or to clarify why it occurs. In fact, it seems that few people take advantage of it, being more present in children. Even if they would lose it over the years.
However, the terms visual memory and eidetic memory should not be confused. The former is the ability to memorize using visual stimuli and the latter places particular emphasis on the level of detail that can be retained.
In this context, there are many doubts about its real existence. The little evidence available in this regard argues more for a combination of various skills.
Thus, the ability to have a material with precision would be given by good visual memory, extraordinary ability, familiarity with the material, effort and even mnemonic strategies. In fact, most of the people who own it say they have had it all their lives and perfected it through practice.
The Loci Method
Anyone with this ability usually stands out publicly for some of these accomplishments. Paint a map of Delhi from memory after enjoying aerial views on one occasion, remembering every day in life from childhood, or memorizing every page of over 9,000 books. Thus, very few of them reveal what they are actually doing to achieve this result.
Only a few of these exceptional spirits have recounted their tricks, and many of them agree with the Loci Method, also known as the Palace of Memories. This method is a useful technique based on spatial memory. According to memory psychologists, the strongest memories are associated with a picture, place and / or emotions. Therefore, it is more likely that something will be remembered if we are able to remember where it happened, for example.
The Loci method then consists in imagining a route which covers a certain number of familiar places and where the concepts are found as objects placed in this environment. In other words, imagine each item as if it were a vase, a painting or a plant.
Thus, during the journey to recover this memory, they appeared alone. This method, used since the 5th century BC, has been studied in prestigious universities. It has been shown to help improve memory considerably.
So, Can I Learn Photographic Memory?
Given all of this, yes. Photographic memory can be trained. You can use the Loci method or other strategies that are more suitable for each person. But what researchers have said so far is that with good technique, good learning and training, remarkable results can be achieved.
In short, constant practice and effort is the key to many skills, and memory is one of them. However, there are people who, from an early age, already show better performance of certain cognitive skills. But that doesn’t mean they end up standing out. Or that if you don’t have a base, you can’t reach those levels.