I’d agree that some people have it much easier than others when learning memory techniques, but just haven’t seen any solid evidence for near-magical memory powers yet. I have an open mind about it, but think that people should be skeptical around mentalist performers, especially once the media jumps in.
Something like synesthesia may give an advantage, but does it create ability beyond what someone without synesthesia could achieve? It would be interesting to find out how many of the top competitors have synesthesia.
I don’t know much about him. Could his ability be similar to chess grand masters’ ability to memorize chess boards after looking at them for a few seconds? If a brain is familiar with patterns, it seems like it can encode those patterns into small chunks and store a lot of information. Is he is a trained artist?
EDIT: What I am asking is could (not “would”) others learn that skill?
It isn’t far fetched – it just seems like there is no solid evidence, while alternate explanations remain.
In the other people who have the same ability it may be related to obsessive-compulsive behavior. What if the accident triggered that behavior and not just a seemingly-magical ability to recall memories? I’m not automatically discounting what he can do, but only saying: let’s eliminate all the other possible explanations first, especially since there is already an explanation about how other people are able to do the same thing.
Being on the autistic spectrum doesn’t prevent someone from using memory techniques or learning mental calculation. Did you ask him how he learned?