There is a condition that allows people to remember every detail of their lives—but it’s not as good as it sounds!
You’ve no doubt heard of mental conditions that have to do with forgetfulness. But have you ever heard of the opposite–of having a brain that remembers every little detail?
It’s called hyperthymesia, from the Greek words thymesis meaning "remembering," and hyper meaning "excessive." People who have this type of memory can recall the details of nearly every day of their lives. Their brains store basically any bit of information that has any personal importance.
Those who are affected by this state of mind describe it by saying they are always making associations and that they do so without effort. When they think of particular dates, places, times, etc., They associate those things with clear images.
Hyperthymesia has drawn comparisons with other conditions, such as autism or savant syndrome. Hyperthymesia differs in some ways. Unlike other oddities of the mind, people with superior autobiographical memory, as it is sometimes called, don’t have to consciously calculate the day of the week of some past event, for example; it’s just remembered without conscious effort.
It’s been found that people affected by hyperthymesia don’t necessarily demonstrate the same ability when they attempt rote memorization–only when recalling personal events, indicating that they are using different parts of the brain to store memories, depending on the type of memory involved. Brain scientists remain puzzled but hope to learn more.