Difference Between Eidetic Memory And Photographic Memory
Updated May 04, 2020
Reviewer Aaron Horn
Many people wish that they had a photographic memory. It would be nice to be able to remember everything that we saw that was important automatically. However, while most people make some limited use of eidetic memory, photographic memory is rarer.
There have been many studies into people who claim to have a photographic memory. Some of the most famous people to have impressive memories include Charles Darwin, Nikola Tesla, and Teddy Roosevelt. The ability to have a photographic memory has been linked to high intelligence.
Eidetic Memory Definition
Everyone has used of eidetic memory to a degree. Eidetic memory is the ability to see an object soon after you look away. For most people, the image lasts mere seconds or less than one second. To get an idea of how well your brain makes use of eidetic memory, look at an object and close your eyes, and see how long you can still see the object in your mind's eye.
Eidetic memory is controlled primarily by the posterior parietal cortex of the parietal lobe of the brain. This is the part of the brain through which visual stimuli are processed, and images retained. For most people, these images are only retained for a few short seconds before being discarded, or information relayed to the short-term memory.
Eidetic Memory VS Photographic Memory
There is a definite difference between eidetic and photographic memory. Everyone has an eidetic memory. However, this memory lasts less than one second for most people, no more than a few seconds for others. Photographic memory is the ability to recall an image for a much longer period.
Few people have a truly photographic memory. Even people with a photographic memory may not retain these memories for a long period. Most photographic memories only last a few months at most, as they are not relayed to long-term memory. With a photographic memory, the eidetic memory is transferred to the short-term memory banks for storage, allowing it to be recalled much later.
The Debate About Photographic Memory
There has been quite a bit of debate in research and psychology circles about the existence of photographic memory. Many researchers believe that such a thing is not possible. They argue that people who remember things clearly for a long period are using the more normal memory enhancements of association or chunking. They believe that people do not see the image in their mind's eye long after the event.
In truth, there is no evidence that photographic memory is possible. However, researchers are still studying the matter, as there are people who claim to have this ability. In the end, the only person who can say definitively whether or not they can see the image in their mind's eye is the person in question.
There has also been much debate about what might make photographic memory possible. One group of researchers studied the memoirs and histories of several people, including Darwin, who claimed to have photographic memories. Their studies led to a conclusion that the ability of photographic memory is directly related to intelligence.
However, another study done about eidetic memory had opposite results. The researchers tested three groups of people of varying intelligence. The group of high intelligence and the group of average intelligence did not show any ability to retain images for more than a few seconds. However, the group of cognitively impaired subjects was able to remember the images long after the event.
How Eidetic Memory Works
Eidetic memory is a temporary form of short-term memory. When you visually see something, it goes into your eidetic memory for seconds before being either discarded or relayed to short-term memory. Once in short-term memory, it may be recalled for days, weeks or months when it will be discarded or relayed to long-term memory.
Typically when information is relayed from eidetic memory to short-term memory, it is relayed as information rather than an actual picture that you can see in your mind's eye. For example, you see your keys on the counter in passing, and later think that you need to find your keys. You remember from your short-term memory that you saw them on the counter, but you wouldn't be able to picture them there as clearly as though you were looking at them.
How Photogenic Memory Works
Photogenic memory works much differently. With a photographic memory, the image of the object is preserved in short-term or long-term memory. The person who has a photographic memory can close their eyes and see the object in their mind's eye just as clearly as if they had taken a photograph, even days or weeks after they saw the object. This type of memory is very rare, and difficult to prove.
How To Get Photographic Memory
Many people would love to have a photographic memory. Not everyone is capable of getting a photographic memory. However, there are some things you can do to improve your memory in general. There are also a few methods for training your mind to take and store those mental photographs for future use.
Improving General Memory
One of the best things you can do to get a photographic memory is to improve your memory in general. There are several ways that you can do this. The best thing you can do to improve memory keeps your mind active. Doing crossword puzzles and other mind games will greatly help you train your mind to remember facts and figures, and eventually perhaps pictures.
One way to improve memory is to train the mind to associate new information or images with other images or previously known information. Associations can be used to remember nearly anything, and it is a surefire way to make sure that you remember something for longer than a few moments. Using associations or chunking information in the memory can greatly improve your recall ability.
The Military Method
There is a method of going around for getting a photographic memory called the military method. It is said that the military uses this method to train operatives to have a photographic memory. While there is no real evidence as to whether or not it is true, some people have had some success in improving memory with this method.
Before starting the military method, you must commit yourself completely to the exercise. This process will take about a month to complete, and you must do it every day for it to work. If you miss even one day of practice, it can set you back at least a week in trying to make progress you are looking for.
To use this method, you will need a room that is completely dark and free from distractions. You will also need a bright lamp or light that can be turned on or off. A windowless bathroom or closet with a ceiling light is a good option.
Get a piece of paper and cut a hole in it about the size of a paragraph on a page of whatever book or document you are trying to memorize. This way you should be able to place the paper on the book or document and only be able to see one paragraph at a time.
Sit comfortably in the small windowless room you have chosen. You should be able to turn the light on and off easily without getting up or moving around too much. Adjust the book or document so that you can see it easily and the words jump into focus when you glance at it without difficulty. This distance may vary from person to person based on eyesight and eyewear.
Place the paper over what you are trying to memorize to display just one paragraph. Turn the light off and let your eyes adjust to the dark. Then, flip the light on for a split second, look at the paragraph, and flip the light off again. You should have a visual imprint of the image in front of you, or be able to see it in your mind's eye. When the image dissipates, repeat the process.
You will repeat this process until you remember every word in the correct order of the paragraph. Doing this exercise for about fifteen minutes per day every day for a month should help you improve your photographic memory. If you are unable to remember the entire paragraph after a month, you should have at least managed to memorize a portion of it and improve your general memory.
Practice With Cards and Objects
Memorizing a deck of cards or a group of objects like dominos can help you improve your memory and train your mind to remember what it sees. Take a deck of cards such as UNO cards or playing cards, and choose three cards randomly. Memorize the cards, put them back in the deck, shuffle, and find the cards you memorized, putting them in the order they were in when you memorized them. Each day you are successful add more cards until you can do the entire deck.
You can do the same thing with dominos or other objects that are similar but different in some way. You simply draw a few in a particular order, memorize them in that order, and try to recreate it again and again, each time with more dominos or objects.
Learn To Focus And Eliminate Distractions
One of the best ways to improve your ability to recall information and images is to focus completely on what you are trying to memorize. Eliminating distractions when memorizing images or information can greatly improve your ability to store that information for later use.
Of course, you won't always be able to eliminate distractions when you want to memorize something. There could be any number of things going on around you, as well as noise or people talking in the background. To best remember information and images, you'll need to be able to hyper-focus on what it is you are trying to memorize. This can take some practice to block out distractions when necessary to memorize the information or images.
Foods That Boost Memory (omega 3s, coffee, eggs, celery)
Some foods can help boost your memory. Omega 3 fatty acids have been found in studies to reduce the loss of memory. If you want to maintain a good memory, make sure you are getting plenty of these either in a supplement or through weekly doses of salmon.
Another study by the Radiological Society of North America has shown that coffee improves memory. Too much coffee can be a bad thing, but having a morning cup or two of coffee can greatly improve brain function and memory recall throughout the day.
Several studies also point to choline as a memory booster. You can find choline in egg yolks, so eating a daily dose of hardboiled or fried eggs can greatly help you boost your short-term memory capacity. A high protein diet has also been linked to good memory. Finally, luteolin has been found to improve short-term memory. You can find that nutrient in celery.
Where To Find Help
If you find that you are losing your memory or having a very difficult time remembering things in general, you might need to seek out professional help. All of the practice in the world will not allow you to develop a photographic memory if you have a medical condition or disorder that affects your memory. If you find that you simply cannot remember things like you used to, visit a psychologist for a memory test and further diagnosis.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is there a difference between photographic memory and eidetic memory?
Photographic memory and eidetic memory are two types of visual memory. People who are believed to have a photographic memory are said to maintain images longer in their visual memory than people recalling an eidetic image.
How common is it to have an eidetic memory?
Using eidetic memory and recalling short-term eidetic images is more common than having a photographic memory. Most of us recall memories using eidetic imagery. Fewer people have a "photographic memory" or perfect memory that is used in exercising photographic memory skills. People with a photographic memory are said to have textbook memory skills where they can recall a memory from a broader time-frame than people with eidetic memory.
Is a photographic memory a real thing?
There has been some debate about whether photographic memory is actually a real thing. Researchers and psychology experts believe that based on the way photographic memory works that it is highly unlikely for people to have a perfect memory. Psychology experts believe that most people use eidetic imagery and eidetic memory when recalling an image or event. While people can use memory enhancements to get closer to having a photographic memory, there is more support for the majority of people having eidetic imagery skills.
What is didactic memory?
Didactic memory can be used to enhance the memory skills of people identified as having eidetic memory. People can use memory-enhancing techniques to create associations and lasting memories using didactic memory skills. Talk to a licensed therapy professional if you want to learn new techniques to enhance your eidetic memory.
What is Total Recall memory?
Total recall memory is a component of eidetic imagery that allows for the recall of multiple or unlimited eidetic images within a short time frame. Most people are able to use eidetic imagery to recall a limited number of eidetic images.
What triggers memory recall?
When it comes to using eidetic imagery to recall an eidetic image, there are many factors that can trigger eidetic imagery memory recall. Places, people, smells, events, another eidetic image, and many other external factors can trigger eidetic imagery recall.
What is it called when you remember everything?
Hyperthymesia is a condition that causes people to remember an unusually large amount of information about their lives in vivid detail. People with this condition often have more instances of eidetic imagery stored in their minds than the average person who is trying to recall an eidetic image.
Does good memory mean intelligence?
While there has been some debate on the topics of memory and intelligence, most researchers and psychology experts agree that a larger volume of short-term memory storage does equate to a higher level of intelligence in most cases.
Who has photographic memory?
People with a photographic memory are said to have the uncanny ability to recall photographic memories of events and people in their lives in detail. There has been some debate in the medical and psychological communities about the accuracy and validity of photographic memory.
How can I get super memory?
If you want to learn how to enhance your memory, talk to a medical or mental health professional who can teach you memory-enhancing exercises and chunking activities that can help you improve your memory.
What exactly is a photographic memory?
A photographic memory consists of a large amount of information and images about a situation that has passed. People with photographic memory are said to have the ability to recall large amounts of information (in detail) from events that happened in the past.
Is it possible to remember being born?
The topic of when memories begin is still hotly debated in the medical and psychological communities. According to science, we begin to have our first lasting memories in the early school-age years starting around five years of age.
What is an example of autobiographical memory?
Autobiographical memory is related to memory about the events in our own lives. An example of autobiographical memory is your memory of your first day of school, high-school graduation, or getting your first job.
What is sensory memory in psychology?
Sensory memory refers to the sensory data stored in the memory after an event has ended. For example, when you're using sensory memory, you may recall a pleasant (or unpleasant) memory based on smells, feelings, temperature, and other factors that relate to processing information using the senses.
What is semantic memory in psychology?
Semantic memory is an example of creating memories that are made from learning and remembering information or general knowledge that you've never actually experienced. Examples of semantic memory are the names of colors, people, places, and other ideas that you've never actually seen but maintain a visual ideal of.