Most of us struggle with our memory and we keep writing small notes so we don't forget appointments, phone calls and everything important that we must do.
Undoubtedly, some of us wish we had a better memory. There are actually people who possess the gift of a perfect memory.
Memory researcher James McGaugh recalls when she once received a letter from a 34-year-old housewife named Jill Price from California who claimed that she
could remember key events on any date back to when she was about 12, as well as what she herself had done each day.
"Some people call me the human calendar," she wrote, "while others run out of the room in fear. But the one reaction I get from everyone who finds out about
this 'gift' is amazement. I run my entire life through my head every day and it drives me crazy!"
McGaugh invited Price to his lab, making sure he had to hand a copy of 20th Century Day by Day, a book that lists important events by date.
He opened the book to random pages and asked Price what had happened on those days.
"Whether it was a plane crash or some elections or a movie star doing an outrageous thing, she was dead on," he recalls.
"Time and time again."
Price was asked questions like when Elvis died, or information regarding TV show episodes.
It was stunning to see how she could answer every one of them accurately, even correcting mistakes in the master list.
McGaugh's research indicates that there are a few selected people like Jill Price who have a special abilities and posses an extraordinary memory.
According to McGaugh, these individuals are neither autistic savants nor masters of mnemonic-based tricks of recall. Yet, they can remember key events
from almost every day of their lives. Learning more about their abilities and how their brains are wired should lead to insights into the nature of human memory researchers think.
Since then, McGaugh and his team have since discovered 33 others with similar talents. As with Price, the detailed memories date back to around the age of ten.
Jill Price is a woman who cannot forget a single thing.
One can wonder if having a great memory is a really good thing, considering we all have events we would rather like to forget about. However, McGaugh
says that most HSAMers see their talent in a positive light. "None of them has said they would wish away the ability if they could," he says.
"When I ask what they do when they have a bad memory, they say they conjure up a happy one."
"My memory helps me remember anything I need to know about the students," says Price who works as a religious education coordinator at a synagogue.
"And my co-workers know that if they need anything, I will be able to find it."
Price describes her memory like a movie that is playing in the background.
"My memory has ruled my life. I think about the past all the time. It's like a running movie that never stops. Like, we're sitting here and
I'm talking to you and in my head I'm thinking about something that happened to me in December 1982, it was a Friday, I started work at Gs," she says.
Despite a lot of research it is still unknown why some people possess this extraordinary ability and can remember every single event and facts.
For the time being the gift of a perfect memory remains a scientific mystery.
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