If you’ve landed up here, chances are it’s because you’ve heard about eidetic memory and want to do an eidetic memory test to see if you have one! How great would it be if you could just take a snapshot of your textbook or presentation and just remember it? Imagine the hours of revision time you’d save! But we have to break it to you early on… there’s quite a lot of misunderstanding about this.
So what we’re going to cover in this article is an explanation of what eidetic memory is, is eidetic memory the same as photographic memory, some examples of eidetic memory and famous people who possessed it, how to develop this coveted ability, as well as an eidetic memory test.
Let’s start with an eidetic memory definition
The first mistake people often make starts with the definition. Eidetic memory is often used interchangeably with photographic memory. While they’re similar, they’re not actually the same.
Eidetic comes from the Greek word “edios”, which means “visible form”. Eidetic memory is the ability to clearly see an image in your mind’s eye for a short period of time after seeing it. And when we say short, we mean in the region of 30 seconds. For example, you’d be able to look at an image or a photograph only once and clearly be able to recall its details for a short while. These people are sometimes referred to as eidetikers.
What’s the difference between eidetic memory and photographic memory?
Wow, you can do that already, so are you an eidetiker?
The answer is likely not. True eidetic memory is incredibly rare and more likely to be found in children rather than adults. This is most likely down to language acquisition and the brain switching from visual memory systems to abstract systems, which leads to a suppression of visual memory systems.
And here’s the main caveat: According to the author of Memory and Learning, Andrew Hudmon, a person with eidetic memory would “remember an image in so much detail, clarity, and accuracy that it is as though the image were still being perceived”. Furthermore, you’d also be able to do this without using other mnemonic devices. And that, friends, is why what you think is eidetic is likely not the case at all.
So now on to a quick explainer of photographic memory. Photographic memory is defined as the ability to recall information like text, numbers, or similar, for a long period of time after only briefly looking at the material, and without the intense visualization part. It’s what the character Michael Ross in the TV legal series “Suits” possesses. And here’s a fun little nugget for you – as wonderful as this ability would be, absolute recall for the duration of a lifetime has never actually been proven to exist. And that’s why Michael Ross is a fictional character. What’s more likely at play is an individual has very strong visual recall skills. Dr. Julie of Vision Therapy explains this really well.
Do I have an eidetic memory?
As we explained above, the likelihood is probably not.
However, there are always exceptions. There are people with autism and Asperger’s syndrome that have memory traits that lean towards eidetic memory. One such example is the phenomenal Stephen Wiltshire.
He’s able to remember cityscape in exquisite detail after a brief helicopter ride and then reproduce it as a drawing.
Another example from the recent past is John von Neumann (heard of von Neumann Architecture in computer science? Yep, same guy). Regarded as the foremost physicists, mathematicians, and engineers of his time, it is claimed that he could memorize a column of the phone book at a single glance.
And to go way back in time, it’s believed that Leonardo da Vinci possessed a photographic memory. But being so far back, there’s firstly no hard evidence for this, and secondly, science has yet to prove the existence of this ability.
I still want to do a test
Ok, we’ve laid it out for you all the reasons why it’s unlikely to be eidetic memory. We’ve also explained that recall is brief (you’ve probably been confusing it with the unproven photographic memory). But we hear you – your curiosity is strong and you want to take an eidetic memory test. So here goes!
Without scrolling back to the top of this article, what was the image we used?
More specifically, what scene was in the photograph under the subject’s left hand?
If you had an eidetic memory, you’d be able to recall in detail all elements of the image including the details we just asked you for. If this test seems a little flaky, it’s actually based on the Picture Elicitation Method. You can scroll back up now 🙂
How to develop eidetic memory
Since eidetic memory is the ability to recall images in detail for a short period of time, is it really worth training yourself for when longer-term recall is likely what you’d benefit more from? And since photographic memory is largely unfounded and therefore not much sound evidence exists for enhancing it, you’re better off focusing on training your visual recall like Dr. Julie explained, as well as developing and improving other mnemonic skills such as rote memorization.
Andrew Hudmon (2009). Learning and Memory. Infobase Publishing
“The Legend of von Neumann”. American Mathematical Monthly.
8 thoughts on “Eidetic Memory Test”
Umm.. This is weird. Because I actually passed the test. I even remembered the hair. The tone of the photograph. The not visible lower part. And that he held the photograph with both hands.
I usually can read about something interesting (and I promise that few have my addiction to new knowledge..To me everything I don’t now. I research until I can at least grasp it. I had a discussion about quantum entanglement with a professor at a university in England for two hours. When he asked me where I studied.. I don’t. I didn’t even finish high school because I was bored out of my mind. I explained that I have agoraphobia and all I do is research. About religion or physics or chemistry or atronomi..everything. I have at this moment 40-50 pages on Wikipedia. I tried the Socratic dialog method with myself yesterday. Because I somehow got into ancient philosophy.. Which I read a lot about but it’s a huuge subject. I don’t talk to anyone exept people online and my mom. I discuss everything with myself out loud. Analyze it back and forth alone.
I don’t believe I have an eidedic memory! But I understand that I managed to train my intellectual skills (like a body builder trains his muscles). Brain is like a muscle so it’s just that.. I have no self-confidence what so ever.. I hate myself. And are suicidal. So I don’t think of that as anything even worth telling. I just wanted to tell you how I recalled the image and it surprised me. Sorry for the digressions.
I guess my point is; Nothing about memory perfection or intelligence or intellectual level makes your life better. I learn so I won’t go mad. And I cannot stand myself. So ignorance is bliss. That is what I actually believe.
(Sorry for any wrong spelling or gramar. I’m from Scandinavia. And I’m to tired to go back and correct those errors at the moment. Just wanted to share)
I hope you’re well Daniel.
Edit: I read “What was in the subjects left hand” so I didn’t pass. Saw that now.. I did however recalled a child somewhere when I scrolled up to check. But I cannot with good conscience say that I could recall the detailed so sorry about that! 😕
Recalled the whole thing. I’ve always been able to do that. Not with numbers or text just images. In college I participated in a visual recognition research project. You looked at a person in a video with a white shirt on. You came in a week later and were shown several different, but similar people in a white shirt. I remembered the original person. The graduate students were very surprised.
I passed too. Pretty easy. I also a polyglot. I am reasonably fluent in five languages and can get around in about 20 more. Romance, Native American, African, Asian. It doesnt seem to make a difference. I beginning to pick up Korean now at the age of 83. I can’t learn them from books. I have to hear them.
I passed, and this actually explains quite a bit about me. I have been “famous” for both how fast I read and my memory in general. If my brain works in mental screenshots, that explains why I read so fast because I read through paragraph in almost the same amount of time as others do to read a sentence or two. So I scan paragraph by paragraph and not sentence by sentence. It probably isn’t as good as it could be, but now I know I can begin that work.
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