Eidetic Memory (A Comprehensive Guide)

Eidetic Memory

The human mind is a fascinating thing and it performs functions that are of utmost importance.

All the executive functions are performed by the brain like decision making, thinking, reasoning, and memory.

Our memory makes us save all the important stuff in our lives as well as some of the non-important stuff as well.

It is because of our memory that we are able to repeat what has already been said to us or whatever we have learned.

Our memory is responsible for all the beautiful moments we remember spending time with our loved ones.

Memory is a rather crucial element of the human mind and without memory we won’t be able to perform certain functions.

However, there are many types of memory including long term and short term, echoic memory and eidetic memory.

Some people are really confused about what and eidetic memory is and how it works. This article will help you understand the concept of eidetic memory and how it is related to or not related to photographic memory.

Most of people think eidetic and photographic memory is the same thing but the fact is contrary.

Many people wish to have an eidetic memory so they can remember everything and why not.

It can lead to a successful career or make you discover or innovate things. Many famous people in history had an eidetic memory.

The important thing to understand is what eidetic memory is or can it be developed or it is just a god gifted innate trait.

Knowing these facts can really help you understand eidetic memory better and you might also be able to develop eidetic memory for you.

Let’s find out in the article below.

Before we move towards finding the difference between photographic and eidetic memory, we need to know a few important concepts related to an eidetic memory.

Eidetic Memory (A Comprehensive Guide)
  • Eidetic Memory

Eidetic memory is not that rare and many of us have used eidetic memory to some extent.

Eidetic memory is the ability to see an object soon after you look away.

Many people have reported having the image lasted for only a few seconds or even less than a second.

If you want to know how good your brain works, you can look at an object and then close your eyes and you can see how long you can see the object in your mind’s eye.

Eidetic memory is mainly the function of the posterior parietal cortex which is located in the parietal lobe of the brain.

This lobe mainly deals with the processing of visual stimuli and the retention of images.

Some people can only store these images for a few seconds or the information is only retained in short term memory. 

  • Eidetic Memory and Photographic Memory

There is a clear difference between photographic and eidetic memory as eidetic memory only lasts less than one second for most people and not for more than a few seconds for others.

On the other hand, photographic memory is the ability to recall an image for a much longer period of time.

Only a few actually have a photographic memory and even they can’t retain these memories for a longer period of time.

The reason is that most photographic memories only last a few months at most because they are not relayed to long-term memory.

If a person has a photographic memory, his eidetic memory will be transferred to short term memory so it can be recalled after a long period of time.

It proves that eidetic memory and photographic memory are different from each other while people think of them as same.

There is a lot of debate going on about photographic memory and let’s discuss some of the debating points before moving further into the depths of eidetic memory.

Some who has Retroactive interference won’t be able to recall old information, because of the new one. It is something which people with photographic memory or edetic memory don’t experience.

Eidetic Memory (A Comprehensive Guide)
  • Photographic Memory

Many psychology circles have been debating about the existence of photographic memory because of many doubt if such a thing even exists.

Psychologists usually believe that people are using normal memory if they are remembering stuff for a longer period of time but they use normal memory enhancements techniques like association or chunking.

They don’t believe people can see the image in their minds long after they see it.

There is no evidence found for the existence of photographic memory.

However, this matter is still under discussion because most people have claimed to have this ability.

Only a person who claims to have a photographic memory can really answer if they can see the image in their mind or not.

People also keep debating about the working of photographic memory and how that is even possible.

For this purpose, many memoir and life histories of people who claimed to have photographic memory were studied and it was concluded that the ability of photographic memory is directly related to intelligence.

Moreover, a study about eidetic memory yielded different results because the researchers tested three different groups with different levels of intelligence.

The two groups with higher and average levels of intelligence did not show any ability to retain images for more than a few seconds.

On the other hand, the group who had cognitively impaired subjects was able to remember images even after a long time of the event. 

One is said to be suffering from Aphantasia if he is unable to recall the image in his mind. However, people don’t know how common it is.

  • Working of Eidetic Memory

Eidetic memory is known to be a temporary form of short-term memory.

When you see something it goes directly to your eidetic memory for a few seconds.

After those a few seconds the image is either going to discard or will be transferred to your short term memory.

If the image is transferred to short term memory, it can be recalled for days, weeks, or even months.

The image then can be either discarded after relaying to short term memory or will be transferred to long term memory.

When an image is transferred to short term memory it is usually transferred as a form of information and not in the form of an actual picture which can be seen in your mind’s eye.

For instance, you see that your keys are on the counter in passing and then after a few minutes you think that you need to find your keys.

If you recall from your short term memory, you remember that you saw the keys on your counter but you won’t be able to picture them there in a way that you are directly looking at them.

Even though it is a complicated process, the thing to remember is the fact that eidetic memory comes even before the short term memory. 

Eidetic Memory (A Comprehensive Guide)
  • Working of Photographic Memory

Photographic memory works in a different way and with the help of a photographic memory, an image either transfer to short term memory or even to long term memory.

A person who possesses photographic memory can look at a picture and then close his eyes and then see the object in his mind’s eye.

The image in mind’s eye of a person who has a photographic memory is as clear as he is directly looking at it or as if he has taken a photograph with the camera.

The image can be retrieved for days and even weeks after he saw the object.

However, photographic memory is a rarely occurring phenomenon and it is really hard to prove if photographic memory actually exists.

When people choose to remember only the information they think is relevant to their self-concept, its because of the Self-reference effect.

  • How to check eidetic memory

There have been many methods that are introduced to prove the existence of eidetic memory.

These methods can be used to prove if a person possesses eidetic memory or not. One of these methods is Elicitation Method.

It is a fairly simple method. In this method an unfamiliar picture is placed on an easel and a person is asked to carefully scan the entire scene.

When the person is looking at the image, there is a 30 seconds time gap and then the picture is removed from the view and the person is asked to keep looking at the easel and to report if he sees anything.

People with eidetic memory will report that they have seen the picture. 

  • How to Improve Memory

Who wouldn’t love to have an eidetic memory or photographic memory for that matter because everyone wants to remember certain things even if they are already good at remembering things, they would still want to improve their memory.

There are a few methods or exercises (you can say) which can help you improve your memory.

These methods won’t give you dramatic results but they can surely help you get better at remembering things. 

  1. The Military Method

This method will help you get photographic memory and this is called a military method because it is used in the military to train operatives so they can have a photographic memory.

Some people have claimed to get benefits from this method.

However, it is a time taking method and needs at least one month to even get started.

  1. Focus

Being focused is the key and you need to completely focus on something you are trying to memorize.

Eliminating all kinds of distractions while memorizing any piece of information can have amazingly good effects on your memory improvement. 

  1. Improve Memory

Try to improve the memory you already possess and there are a number of ways to do that.

One of the best methods is to keep your mind active. Keep your mind on the go, doing crossword puzzles and other games which keep your mind active are the best ways to keep your mind busy and to improve your general memory. 

  1. Diet

Diet is the number one way to achieve anything you are pursuing physically and some foods can help you boost your memory.

These foods included which are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids which are found abundantly in salmon.

Coffee has also shown promising results in memory improvement and so does egg yolks. 

Eidetic Memory (A Comprehensive Guide)
  • FAQ Eidetic Memory 

Who are some famous people with eidetic memory?

Some of the most famous people who claimed to have amazing memories are Nikola Tesla, Charles Darwin, and Teddy Roosevelt.

The ability to have a good memory is associated with higher intelligence. 

How common is it to have an eidetic memory?

Eidetic memory is common than photographic memory, both of these are forms of visual memory but fewer people possess photographic memory than eidetic memory.

Can children possess eidetic memory?

Interestingly, a vast majority of children are known to have an eidetic memory.

The prevalence estimate of the ability in pre-adolescents ranges approximately from 2% to 10%.

There are no gender differences found in the phenomenon. 

References

  1. Beasley, N. (May, 2020). Difference between eidetic memory and photographic memory. 
  2. Scientificamerican.com: “Is there such a thing as photographic memory? And if so, can it be learned?

Eidetic Memory (A Comprehensive Guide)

Juanita Agboola

Juanita Agboola is the editor in chief of HFNE and an expert in mental health online. She has been writing about online behavior, mental health and psychology issues since 2012. All Guides are reviewed by our editorial team which constitutes various clinical psychologists, PhD and PsyD colleagues.