Eidetic memory?

Hello again. As some of you know, I am here to explore and share stuff about my unusual memory. For this post I need your opinion because I am not sure myself. This topic is not about photographic memory as photographic memory has not yet been proven to exist. Eidetic memory is not the same as photographic memory.

To this day, I am still trying to figure out if I am a savant or a synesthete or an eidetiker or all of them. The way I work with numbers suggest synesthesia, numbers have traits, personalities and feelings to me. Some feats also suggest I am a savant, like my ability to recall the release year of almost all the movies I have ever seen after seeing it once. Now, this is the part where the lines become blurry.

Some feats of mine are like those of a savant, however, unlike savants, I can explain what I do and how I do it and the way I do it is not unusual but only the memory required to do this is unusual. Most savants don’t know how they calculate 937×478 quickly in their heads or how they know that date x is on a tuesday, they just “know”. This where I differ. I can tell you how I calculate 937×478 in my head, I go from left to right and I actually see the numbers, I literally see 937×478 in my mind and also the steps I take to calculate it; first 400×937, then 70×900 and I add that to the product of 400×937 and continue adding the products of 70×30, 70×7, 8×900, 8×30 and 8×7 to the product of 400×937. There is nothing special about this except the memory capacity needed to do this in your mind quickly.

After a lot of reading, this might suggest a different type of memory than savant syndrome or synesthesia all together, called eidetic memory. Which is a rare thing by itself as it seems virtually non-existent in adults.

Another experience of mine also suggests eidetic memory. I noticed that when I am, i.e., watching a video about something new I am trying to learn, that I often remember the contents of the video for entire days.
About 6 months or so I was learning math for a short while. I remember how satisfying it felt to still know all the equations of the first, second, third and fourth video while I was busy watching the 5th without ever looking back or writing anything down. I made my notes a couple of days after seeing the videos and I knew every equation still, even the meaning behind each symbol too. I stopped learning math because of personal matters but I am going to start again soon. I had the same experience when learning HTML and CSS. I could just see the things I needed to know in my mind like how I saw it in the videos. My first ever experience of this was with a Bob Ross video cx.
After watching a 60 minute video of him painting, I could tell you step by step how he painted, what he painted and even the colors he mixed before using them on the canvas. This experience only lasts a couple of days as far as I can tell and then I forget what I learned like everyone else. An odd thing though is that I often actually have a harder time learning the material again. I think this might be because my heart is not in it, not the way it was the first time encountering the material. I even feel that the material isn’t sticking in my mind like it was the first time. It is the same feeling I get when I see a number I don’t like, it doesn’t feel right and it doesn’t stick as well in my mind as a number that I do like.

Another odd but simple feat that suggest eidetic memory is my ability to solve a wordsearch after learning the location of each word and then solve the wordsearch without the list of words. The way I do it is I start with the first word of the list, find its location in the puzzle and then continue with the second word and so on. I only need to see them once on short lists, like 30 words. The process is the same with lists of 40+ words but I might repeat all the locations of the words in my head again. When I know all the locations of the words, I can just cover the list of words with my hand and solve the puzzle by checking each letter.

This is how it looks like when I’ve done a puzzle. I’ve written the answer underneath. As you can see, I don’t need to mark any words, I know all the words and their locations.

It doesn’t always workout of course. In this one I messed up the order of the letters I found, otherwise I could’ve guessed the word “rasta”. These puzzels are in dutch, the language spoken here in the Netherlands.

But what do you guys think? Is this eidetic memory?
I often have a feeling that I might be all three of the memory types. Daniel Tammet is a savant with synesthesia, perhaps I am a savant with synesthesia and an eidetic memory. Another possibility is that I only have an eidetic memory and synesthesia and that my feats are similar to that of a savant because of my odd memory. But the meaning of savant has changed over time, it now means someone with exceptional skills that are impressive for the average person since the discovery of acquired savants, which my skills are since I don’t use any techniques and this is just pure my brainpower, this puts me back into the category of a savant. Perhaps some of you can even relate to this somehow, any advice is appreciated.

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Putting a hard line to it, savants tend to or rather should be performing calculations(for your example) in step processes that are not natural. For example you can feel the answer without calculating it. Simply because the numbers have different feelings so you don’t have to carry out any operation as the mesh of feelings is the feeling of the answer. Not quite explainable to people who are not savants. Not natural also includes being able to do the original steps highly quickly but this implies universally ‘manipulating visual information quickly in your mind’, ‘manipulating sounds quickly in your mind’, where quick is unusually so.

Synesthetes can perceive linked senses to things such as feelings,personalities to any kind of data but this, for even a single set of data makes you a synesthete for that data.

Eidetic memory allows highly effective recall but does not allow the same highly detailed recall seen in photographic memory. You can look at pages and recall their structures at the top of your head reliably, see where the text was and what it kind of looked like in your mind. This also doesn’t degrade instantly, for most people it degrades instantly whereas with an Eidetic memory it would last good couple minutes or longer and wouldn’t be limited to a single page but something that would normally exceed your working memory capacity.

Photographic memory as said, you look at something and can recall everything details inclusive this also does not deteriorate. This means you can look at a page of text and read it in your mind as reliably as if it were in front of you and without being bothered by the next 500 along that. Also not believed to exist.

Why I say hard line is because these definitions have been watered down to accommodate for people who have abilities that are impressive but not exactly the upper bound of full extent. Also people who claim to be savants but then use mnemonics even not being aware of this themselves. Similarly synesthesia can give similar properties to standard eidetic memory. mnemonics can give you a highly ‘unnatural’ memory capability.

However all in all, this means you would by current tests actually classify all synesthete,savant and eidetiker.

I can somewhat relate to a lot of this and I find I form a lot of odd synesthesia associations very rapidly and strangely. For example if I am reading something and I don’t try to stop it I would see a keyboard typing all the letters I am seeing automatically at a rate matching my reading speed. I also have different feelings and emotions associated to the structuring people use when they write certain messages. Sometimes I involuntarily visualize a vi window for programming when I am typing and it just parses the text I am writing. Along with this I have a few more odd synesthesia alike associations. The reason I say I form associations very rapidly is because I for example once thought about what it would be like to visualize a line every-time I moved my mouse. I did this for a few minutes and for the next 2 days whenever I moved my mouse I saw an involuntary line along the path. Not exactly magic but it is both bothersome and useful.

My memory without mnemonics is actually quite decent(nothing impressive though). Not quite at the extent where I can fully classify it as eidetic but I remember a lot of names in foreign languages, in things I see or if people are speaking on the side I would remember what they were saying without my attention perhaps the next day. I generally can recall past events with great detail, remember far too many songs. it all really varies a lot. Particularly with images I have my odd times when I remember the random 16 digit card number I blinked at or otherwise, if I am working on something actively I can usually reliably recall whatever it is I was thinking about and the data associated to it. The reason this isn’t eidetic is because its highly prone to interference. If I see too much similar data in a short time frame I can’t reliably recall particular data within it. Yet if I don’t have much interference for a brief time after seeing the information I may remember the same information for a few days, at strange times years. Similarly though I think this applies to everyone, when I see information more quickly or hear it more quickly my working memory proportionally goes up but lasts for less time (far more prone to interference unless I recall it at a later time), if within this time I connect information my effective memory doubles. For example if my verbal span is the odd line or two, if I alternate between the odd line or two and its next but then try to connect them quickly (connect being be capable of recalling them right after another in one bout) then the memory sticks for days, no special technique to this.

My advice normally would be training since, having the ability to do this also implies you can improve it. Though I remember you saying you did not want to train it. If you want to satisfy yourself with the answer the simple thing to do is run highly extensive tests and note down your results to look over. You can see what makes your memory worse or better and etc. For example if you feel ‘emotions and personalities’ and hear sound tracks that give you different emotions and personalities but are not interfering with your verbal reading of numbers. Does your recall of the numbers get worse? Generally people find it relatively easy to conduct memory feats which do not use anything special aside from their span while hearing instrumentals. Synesthetes struggle more with this, especially if what they associate to instrumentals is of similar nature to the information they are to remember. You can progressively use the overlap but not direct interference to rule out when synesthesia is providing you with the said ability over eidetic memory or pure savant ability.

Also eidetic memory is indeed rare in adults but also not so rare that it doesn’t exist.
There is a kind of thin line between what is eidetic and what is high ability though, as a child I do remember there being a time when I could look at something, close my eyes and read it 15 minutes later.
provided it was in my field of focus(around 3 lines max). I never have remembered this helping me since it similarly vanished with similar activity and having to read it to comprehend didn’t put any load off it. In your case though, I am pretty sure diagnosis would put you in the category of having eidetic memory.

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Wouldn’t that be something? Not only a savant but also a synesthete and eidetiker.

I thank you for your words and advice. There isn’t much information about eidetic memory out there and I can’t find a solid eidetic memory test online. I did a lot of those “Do you think you have an eidetic/photographic memory?”-tests and a lot of “Only someone with a photographic memory can do this”-tests. I know they aren’t very reliable but almost all of them suggest eidetic memory. The most used official way to test if someone has an eidetic memory is through the picture elicitation method but that requires a professional in the room to verify, which also costs money.

I don’t really care if I have eidetic memory or not, I am already grateful for the skills I do possess. Not many people with autism are this fortunate, almost half of those on the spectrum don’t even speak. This doesn’t mean my life has been easy, a simple conversation kills me. I am 21 years old with a possible 1 in a million mind and no degree. I can never be a salesman or do any job that involves a lot of social interaction and those are a lot of jobs. Thankfully there are sites like this where I can talk about things I am interested in with people who are also interested in the same things.

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In your case I am pretty confident to say for any professional testing you would tick the box to all savant,synesthete and eidetiker.

In my case, I sort of always have one or another thing that doesn’t make me truly one of those even if I meet other conditions. Though I guess it is something.

There indeed is not a lot of information on eidetic memory. The definition is very much dynamic, there are also other conditions like hyperthymesia, which makes it kind of more difficult to narrow down. You can attempt doing a picture elicitation method test on your own by keeping a picture along with a stopwatch and simply following the general instructions perhaps noting your recall on a computer. Afterwards you can look at the picture to ensure it was correct to a acceptable standard. The individuals diagnosing these things had to learn about them from somewhere so the resources should be available and easily feasible, if it’s only really 1 test; it’s also free this way.

Not sure if this is a positive thing to say but I certainly would never be able to stick to doing salesman jobs or any job that involves a lot of social interaction. Really any job that doesn’t let me make something in my own lab. Which leaves a lot less jobs for me but, its always good to do what you really want to do.

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I thought about hyperthymesia for while and there is a good chance I could sort of mimick the condition with my memory. My reason was if my brain memorizes hundreds of dates from movies after seeing them once then this might also be do-able for days of dates, I just don’t happen to have a calender. I won’t try to either because it would take years to find out if I can do it or not.

Back to eidetic memory.
I had a classmate in high school who was diagnosed with eidetic memory. He aced math. He didn’t even need to do his homework and he would get A’s. However, his eidetic memory didn’t show in all subjects. English, history and geography was always my alley because I barely needed to learn for those subjects and for other subjects like German, french and dutch I didn’t know because I didn’t try my best in high school because of personal problems. I would love to compare to him now. I wonder if he still has an eidetic memory, I’ve read that most children lose it after a while.

Hyperthymesia often comes with the side effect or benefit that when you recall something it recalls other things in chain, which is almost unstoppable. So you may see a date and recall the entire day and you wouldn’t really be able to stop recalling it. Kind of like having all your memories cause similar to earworms.

Interesting, so his eidetic memory struggled more with textual information of high detail. I used to have a classmate in high school who had arguably the worst memory I have ever seen. He was unable to memorise almost anything including any conversation he had with me the day before , in exchange for this he was only going to keep something if he had understood it entirely. He did quite well in all mathematical subjects. Yet he never really memorised anything, he often asked me things over 15 times in a year because he wasn’t satisfied with the answer I was giving him as it didn’t match his understanding of what I was telling him so he forgot my answer. I still remember him telling me when we did complex numbers that if I memorised the the variation of conditions to computing the arguments of complex numbers rather than deduced them from the argand diagram, I would never remember them for the exam. I told him that the method for deducing the arguments variations the way the teacher wrote it down by using the graph was flawed because it didn’t include all the values but only the most common few. He never remembered the method again. He also particularly struggled with this since the teacher didn’t allow him to understand much of it since it was still only higher level high school. Still makes it interesting that conditions can be so different yet both provide benefits for the subject.

In my case, I favoured mathematics and physics but I didn’t really have a subject I needed to do more for than the others though mathematics always felt shorter to me than biology for example.

Also I believe children tend to lose this much before the age of 12. If he had an eidetic memory later in his teens it may still be more likely that it is there now. Also you may be able to find him online if you know his name and or habits, these days you can almost find anyone online somewhere.

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A couple of comments:

You are not a savant. Savant syndrome occurs when a globally developmentally delayed individual has one or two islands of brilliance in mental ability.

There is little to no support that eidectic memory exists despite many claims to the contrary. So the odds are against you having such a memory.

Having a vivid imagination doesn’t count as evidence of synesthesia.

If I were you, I’d head down to the local university and have the psychology department test your claims, then you will know for sure.

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So, you are saying that my ability of remembering hundreds of release dates without ever memorizing any of it after 1 glance is not a sign of savant syndrome even if I am autistic?
Then what about my ability to calculate multiplications like 34,739 × 58,932 in my head without techniques, practice, no memory palace, nothing but just pure my brain, is that not a sign of savant syndrome or something? Because if I recall correctly, almost nobody can do this in their head without techniques. Even people with an IQ of 180+ can’t do this in their head. If I were to walk up to Terence Tao right now and ask him what 312,623 × 79,451 is, it would probably take him an hour to calculate that in his head without any techniques, paper or pencil or maybe he couldn’t do it at all because it is too much. Most people have trouble even remembering the problem itself, let alone calculate it.

I think you are confusing eidetic memory with photographic memory. They are not the same. There is little to no evidence for photographic memory. However, eidetic memory does exist. A lot of children have it but lose it as they get older. My classmate had it in middle school. I am wondering if I have eidetic memory, not photographic memory.

As for synesthesia, I was doubtful at first when I considered it but after a lot reading and analyzing of my feelings for numbers I still can’t refute it. When I was a kid my favourite number was (and it still is) the number 12. Not because I had 12 toys or anything related to 12 like most people but because I AM 12, 12 is me and I am 12. It is my personality, the number 12. There are many more signs and pointers towards synesthesia but I used this one to show you that I have always had feelings for numbers, even as a small kid. As a kid I was good with numbers too. In elementary school I got special exercises and hard problems in math because I was further ahead than my classmates and much faster at calculating. My teachers couldn’t understand how I could do these calculations in my head.

I don’t mind you having doubts in my abilities but I would appreciate it if you could use some solid reasons or factual reasons for that doubt. When I read your comment I felt like you didn’t read enough about me or knew enough about me.
If you could meet me in real life and see my abilities in action, you would understand my reasons for savant syndrome, synesthesia and even eidetic memory.

In a couple of weeks I will be seeing a psychologist and I want to explore my abilities there. I just want to be sure about things before I suggest something as eidetic memory. That is why I started this topic.

Well hi AlbinoBlank.

It’s true I don’t know enough about you, but I really don’t see the need to know enough about a person before responding to a post. I believe a post should be relatively self-contained and not require a thorough check on ‘who a person is’ before responding. Otherwise things get unwieldy.

If you have autism-spectrum disorder, then it’s possible that you are a savant. However a savant by definition has very low levels of mental ability in most domains, but brilliance in one or two. I was assuming that you do not have very low levels of mental ability in most domains (my only evidence being your post), and so you could not be a savant.

With regard to photographic/eidectic memory. I was using the popular notion that they are the same. Indeed, I don’t see much point in distinguishing between them (excluding in research of course), since what people want, if they could have it, is what is commonly referred to as a photographic memory.

My main point with regard to savant syndrome, photographic memory, and synesthesia was that if you have these concerns then get tested if you feel it’s important to be have the appropriate labels. No one here can possibly tell you what you have or tease apart any of those differing states. To accomplish that would require detailed and careful lab work in a psychology department.

I do apologize, however, if you felt badly about my post. Often I’m on my phone when responding and I dislike texting, so tend to be terse.

But you should distinguish eidetic memory from photographic memory, they are really not the same thing. The populair notion that they are the same is a misconception. I agree that they are both very appealing but the difference between them is that photographic memory doesn’t forget and can recall 100% of the information. Eidetic memory only holds a visual image much longer than average memory, it is still limited.

Photographic memory is like a super power if you compared it to eidetic memory. It would be awesome though if somebody is found with photographic memory. So far we haven’t found anyone with it but it is still possible. A few months ago my younger brother asked me if there is somebody out there who saw things upside down, I said that it could be possible and what do you know? There is somebody out there who sees things upside down all the time. Her name is Bojana Danilovic.
Here is an article about her.

And then you have people like Stephen Wiltshire, who can draw a whole city back from memory after a 15 minute helicopter ride. Kim peek could remember more than 20,000 books he read and had a 98% recall. Feats like these come pretty close to photographic memory but are only a part of it. Now we have to wait for somebody who has the full picture.

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For anyone who is interested, there are links to information about eidetic memory on the Eidetic Memory page. It isn’t a well agreed upon concept.

“Thus the experience of eidetic imagery is supposedly much more akin to seeing a real, external object or scene, than is ordinary imagery experience”.
“True eidetic image doesnt move as you move your eyes, and it is in the same color as the original picture.”
This implies because I can feel the sensation of touch and smells and other senses with my visualisation and that I see them in their original colour not moving when I move my eyes (images I stare at) that I have eidetic imagery?

The information on the page seems pretty old. 1979 is 40 years ago. I can’t find many recent papers either.

However, so far I still show the signs of eidetic memory. What they describe does sound a lot how I experience my visual memory. When I recall an image of something I see it in front of me and with the right colors and like I said before, I can remember them for a very long time, sometimes much longer than a couple of minutes. When I was learning math, I remembered the equations for days before I wrote them down in my notebook. When I recall something I only see an image, I don’t know what it is like otherwise. Even when I do mental calculations I see the numbers vividly. I often don’t see what is in front of me because I only see the numbers and I can manipulate them like you would on a paper.

I hope I can get checked out because I am still not certain about anything. It would be interesting if I do have an eidetic memory because I am an adult, I don’t think I am going to lose it since I am already 21.

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I was trying to find original sources and came across Mental Imagery by Robert G. Kunzendorf. It seems to be widely cited when referring to eidetic memory. (I found a used copy online and will post an update if there is anything interesting in it.)

There are also some of his papers mentioned here.

I think that Boris works on memory research in the Netherlands. He might know of someone there who has enough knowledge about that kind of memory to test you.

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Thanks for sharing your experiences with us. What you can do is very intriguing. I would like to learn more about your abilities. Is it okay to ask some questions?

I literally see 937×478 in my mind and also the steps I take to calculate it

How clear are the images you see with your inner eye? Does the actual environment become blurry when you do so? Do you focus on just a handful of digits at a time, or is the picture sharp as a whole?

Then what about my ability to calculate multiplications like 34,739 × 58,932 in my head
… ask him what 312,623 × 79,451 is, it would probably take him an hour to calculate …

The numbers in the examples are growing bigger and bigger. Do you really calculate things like 312,623 × 79,451 in your head without error, or in most cases without error? How long does it take you to do so? Have you ever used a timer to stop time?

About 6 months or so I was learning math for a short while. I remember how satisfying it felt to still know all the equations of the first, second, third and fourth video while I was busy watching the 5th without ever looking back or writing anything down.

The complexity of mathematical equations varies widely. Could you give some examples of the equations you remembered, or some that are similar in difficulty? Also, about how many of these equations were treated in each video?

Another odd but simple feat that suggest eidetic memory is my ability to solve a wordsearch after learning the location of each word and then solve the wordsearch without the list of words.

How many wordsearch puzzles have you done this way? Since when?

Thanks for your time and effort, I appreciate it.

I just saw some links to papers about eidetic memory in this paper: Synesthesia and Memory

Excerpt:

In the context of memory performance and imagery, it is also important to consider eidetic memory. It can be described as the persistence of a visual image after the according stimulus has been removed (Allport, 1924). It is to be differentiated from non-visual memory and afterimages. In contrast to afterimages, eye movements during stimulus inspection do no prevent eidetic images from occurring, additionally they are positive in colouration and do not shift with eye movements (Girayetal., 1976; Haber, 1979). Eidetic imagery is predominantly, but rarely, found in children from 6 to 12 years and virtually absent in adult populations (Girayetal., 1976). It is important to mention that eidetic imagery is not photographic and hence does not generally benefit memory performance (cf., Haber, 1979).

I haven’t read the referenced papers yet, but they might be worth checking out.

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I’m not saying Eidectic memory isn’t important to study, just that as a practical kind of memory it’s limited to a few minutes usually, and so to me isn’t that important from a real-world standpoint. Of course, it’s of great interests to empirical psychologists, as are cases like Kim Peek, or HM for exploring the capabilities and functions of the human brain.

And of course, Kim Peek was exceptional even for a mega-savant. But, his prodigious abilities and memory came at an awful cost, costs which I don’t believe anyone would actually choose just so that they could have his abilities. And so, there lies the rub. It seems to be the case that if a person has some prodigious ability in one or two areas (mega-savants in more areas), they usually suffer almost equivalent deficits in other arguably more important areas. Kim Peek, for example, couldn’t live by himself.

It is of course my bias, but I really only value memory abilities that ensure bettering long-term recall, not an enhancement of immediate recall that would last but a few minutes. So perhaps in the future, a genetically modified brain could have photographic recall. However the human brain evolved also to forget. I actually think that photographic recall of everything would be a handicap. What I think most people would actually want would be photographic recall of declarative semantic memory; that too could perhaps be accomplished in the future with genetic manipulation.

@Finwing sorry that I haven’t responded yet. I’ve been busy creating a video to demonstrate my abilities. I will answer all your questions in that video and more.

I want to apologize in advance for my english, I am not used to talking it as I am writing it.

I will probably create a new topic and upload the video there so that if new people see the topic, they see the video first and don’t have to scroll through other posts.

No problem, take your time please. I’m looking forward to watch the video :slight_smile:

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Alright, so I’ve almost finished part 1 of the video which is about my calculating skills. Part 2 is about my memory. I think I will have the whole video done tomorrow so you can expect the video to be up on tuesday. I will put a link in the new topic to the video because it is too large to upload to the forum.

I am excited because I can show you guys that I am legit, most of you probably already think that but for those sceptics out there, this is the truth:)

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