There are certain days in your life that stand out more than others. You can recall them, as if they happened yesterday.
What if you could do that with every day? What if you could remember almost every detail from any day of your life since you were young?
Would every day be worth remembering? Or would the constant stream of memories keep you from enjoying the present?
Most people couldn’t tell you what they wore on the first Monday of last month, or what they ate for dinner on this day three years ago; but there are at least six people in this world who can.
As of April 2016, researchers have confirmed six cases of hyperthymesia. Hyperthymesia is the rare ability to vividly recall almost every day of your existence.
Now, you might not easily remember your time in the crib, but Jill Price, at the age of 54, claims she remembers everything from when she was 14 years old onward. Is hyperthymesia a blessing or a curse?
Would you choose it if you could? Are you satisfied with what you remember now? Or do you wish you could hold onto everything?
The reason why people with hyperthymesia are able to remember so much is because some parts of their brains are abnormally large. For example, the caudate nucleus is much bigger. This part of the brain stores automatic memories.
They’re not exactly important ones, just every day events and details. A larger caudate nucleus likely explains why those with hyperthymesia can remember the clothes they wore or what the weather was like on any particular date. And their ability to remember dates and events so clearly is thanks to an enlarged temporal lobe.
Other studies revealed that people with hyperthymesia had more activity in visual parts in their brain. Their memories play like movies in their heads.
So that’s one cool thing you could look forward to. Non-stop entertainment. You could binge watch the best moments of your life! Like when you used to own a motorcycle! Or when you and your friends went on that awesome ski trip!
You don’t always get to choose which memories slip into your consiousness; and you can’t always control when they pop up either. People with hyperthymesia have described how they also recall bad memories with the same intensity as the day they were formed. But good or bad, you never know what might bring up the past, so carrying a conversation could be very difficult if you’re trying to process new information while your mind is caught up in the past.
Despite these challenges, you might actually find a way to enhance your life with hyperthymesia. No, it’s not like you’d become some genius who could retain every fact and theory there is to learn; because it seems people with hyperthymesia are only able to vividly recall details and events of their own past, as opposed to general information or data sets.
So where’s the good in living in the past? To some degree, you can be in control of your memories!
Do what you can to make each day more significant. Meet new people, spread kindness, and seek new experiences. Try to live without regrets, because the fewer you have, the fewer you’ll recall!
But of course, even if you don’t have hyperthymesia, isn’t this the way we should be living anyway?
- “If You Remembered Every Single Day Of Your Life—In Detail”. Bernard, Toni, 2012. Psychology Today. Accessed January 17 2019.
- “What If Remembering Everything Was Possible? » Science ABC”. Pradhan, Rujuta, and More author. 2016. Science ABC. Accessed January 17 2019.
- “9 Facts About People Who Remember Everything About Their Lives”. 2015. mentalfloss.com. Accessed January 17 2019.
- “10 Surprising Facts About Your Memory – Synap”. 2017. Synap. Accessed January 17 2019.
- “The Human Brain Is Loaded Daily With 34 GB Of Information | Tech 21 Century”. Tech 21 Century. Accessed January 17 2019.