Unmasking the Mystery Behind a Superhuman Memory
It’s hard to believe that there are people out there with superhuman memories—those who can remember virtually everything they’ve ever seen, heard, or experienced. But it’s true. They exist. And their memories are so impressive that they’ve been given their own classification: Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory, also known as HSAM.
HSAM is a rare condition characterized by an exceptional autobiographical memory, meaning that individuals with this condition can recall a virtually unlimited number of personal experiences and facts from their past with remarkable clarity and accuracy. This condition is estimated to affect only a few hundred people in the world. And while there’s still much to learn about this mysterious condition, researchers have been able to uncover some of its underlying mechanisms and have begun to understand the mystery of the superhuman memory.
In order to understand this condition, it’s important to first understand what makes a “normal” memory. It’s widely accepted that most of our memories are encoded in the brain through a process called encoding. Encoding involves taking a piece of information, such as a word or a face, and forming a mental representation of it in the brain. The process of encoding is what allows us to remember the things we’ve seen and experienced.
But HSAM is much different—it’s a highly superior form of memory encoding. This means that individuals with HSAM are able to create more vivid and detailed mental representations of the things they’ve seen or experienced. These mental representations, or “snapshots”, are so vivid and detailed that they can be recalled with remarkable accuracy, even years later.
So what is it that makes HSAM so special? Research has suggested that people with HSAM have a heightened ability to focus on details and to organize their memories into a specific narrative. This means that they are able to remember the who, what, where, when, and why of an experience with remarkable accuracy and detail.
Furthermore, research has also suggested that there may be a genetic component to HSAM. Researchers have found that individuals with HSAM have a higher than average presence of a gene called “CREB1” and that this gene could play a role in the formation of memories.
Finally, it’s important to note that HSAM is not a superpower. People with HSAM still struggle with day-to-day memory tasks, just like everyone else. They also experience forgetting, just like everyone else. The difference is that they can recall the details of past events with remarkable accuracy and clarity.
Unmasking the mysterious condition of HSAM is a difficult task, but it’s one that is slowly being accomplished. As researchers uncover more about HSAM, we may one day be able to truly understand the mysteries behind the superhuman memory.