Health and Medicine Question #766

Sandra Roberts, a 40 year old female from Toronto, Ontario asks on April 22, 2002,

Is there a difference between total recall and a photographic memory?

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The answer

Barry Shell answered on April 23, 2002

As far as I can tell, "total recall" is a fictional phenomenon from a screen play written by Ronald Shusett and Dan O'Bannon. It does not exist in real life. Photographic memory may exist, but it is not well understood scientifically. It may be a myth. From what I can determine, there is no good experimental evidence that clearly explains it. The problem is that people use memory tricks to remember images or words on a page. They are not really "photographing" anything. Some young children have "eidetic memory" which allows them to recall scenes in great detail for short periods of time. This talent fades with age.

A University of Toronto Neuowiki page describes three different memory "skills"

Or check out the Straight Dope take on it. Also the Mad Scientists network explanation about photographic memory.

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