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Photographic and Eidetic Memory

LMcCormick's picture




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The popular term photographic memory refers to the ability to capture and store an exact replicate of an image (like a photograph) in one’s brain and perfectly recall the image at a later time point.  This differs slightly from eidetic memory.  People with eidetic memory are able to reproduce a previously viewed image in their mind, maintaining general physical qualities such as spatial organization, color, and texture.  As described by Searleman (2007), a true eidetic image does not move when one moves their eyes.  Thus, an eidetic image is not simply an afterimage, which usually moves and is often different in color from the original image.  Eidetic images usually fade away involuntarily after a few minutes, and the image is lost upon blinking.  Once an eidetic image has faded away, it can rarely – arguably never – be retrieved.
However, an eidetic image is not unflawed.  As with all forms of memory, eidetic images are a construction of reality.  People with eidetic memory may alter physical features of an image or invent details during recall.  Searleman (2007) describes that eidetic images can be influenced by cognitive biases and expectations.  Therefore, eidetic images are not literally “photographic” representations of images, as implied by the popular term photographic memory.
Eidetic memory is extremely rare in the adult population.  However, research indicates that 2-15% of children possess eidetic memory.  A study by Ralph Haber in 1964 screened 500 elementary school-age children and found that as many as 50% of children possess eidetic memory (la Brecque, 1972).  Additionally, geriatric populations also demonstrate a higher frequency of eidetic imagery.  The tendency of eidetic memory to manifest in young and old populations is particularly interesting in light of research indicating that verbalization during the time that a person studies the original image interferes with eidetic image formation.  Therefore, it is plausible that the variation in frequency of eidetic imagery is due to dependence on linguistic ability.  While adults utilize abstract linguistic thought – and often have a hard time repressing this – children depend on visual stimuli while interacting with their surroundings.  Geriatric populations may also revert back to a similar approach as children, as the language centers in their brains begin to deteriorate.  Therefore, young and old populations are probably more likely to concentrate on visual details and less likely to verbalize while studying an image.  This is consistent with evidence suggesting that eidetic memory is more frequent in people with mental disabilities, such as autism.  One of the major characteristics of autism is delayed language and communication development.  Therefore, people with autism may depend on visual stimuli for much longer than other populations. 
            There are several methods of testing eidetic memory.  One is the Picture Elicitation Method, in which a picture is placed on an easel and studied by the subject for 30 seconds.  After the picture is removed, the subject continues to look at the easel and describes anything that they can observe.  A person with eidetic imagery acts as if they can still see the picture, as they scan the easel while answering questions.  Haber used this type of method in his study: children were identified as possessing eidetic memory if they moved their eyes in the appropriate direction while answering questions.  Haber also used another type eidetic imagery test that utilized superimposition of images.  Haber showed subjects two pictures, one at a time.  If the subject was able to retain the image of the first picture while visualizing the second, they would be able to see a third, composite image.  Although this type of test is normally effective, this particular test may not have been stringent because it has been suggested that the children could have guessed the composite image.
Although eidetic memory is a well documented phenomenon, the question exists whether photographic memory, as it is popularly defined, truly exists. The popular term photographic memory differs in two main ways from eidetic memory: it implies both a perfect and indestructible recall of images.  Photographic memory refers to the ability to essentially store a snapshot of an image in one’s head and accurately recall any detail of the image.  On the other hand, it is known that eidetic memory is often a flawed construction of reality.  Additionally, the term photographic memory implies that one can recall the image indefinitely, utilizing the image of a textbook perhaps during a test or of a map when navigating a new city.  However, as described above, eidetic images do not last for long periods of time, and one cannot chose what parts of an eidetic image fade away. 
Photographic memory, then, requires that one can store large amounts of unprocessed information in their brain for indefinite periods of time.  This raises the question of the efficiency of photographic memory.  It is uneconomical for the brain to store unprocessed information indefinitely.  As far as we know, the brain normally sifts through the sensory stimuli that one is exposed to and selects and stores useful information.  It is improbable that all details of an image would be deemed as useful information.  Additionally, there is a specific encoding process that moves information from short-term memory to long-term memory.  Long Term Potentiation describes the process of physical strengthening of neuronal connections that enable long-term retention of information.  Rehearsal and meaningful association of information are necessary for this process to occur.  However, photographic memory implies long-term storage of information without this specific encoding process.
The existence of this unusual type of memory could be rationalized if it has a specific adaptive purpose.  There is evidence to suggest that honeybees use this type of memory in order to recognize patterns.  Pattern recognition is an essential task for bees, as they must be able to identify specific flowers.  In a study by Giger and Srinivasan (1995) bees were exposed to patterned disks with nectar behind them; after a delay, the bees’ ability to identify the correct pattern (with nectar) was tested.  The authors concluded that although bees preferentially used orientational cues to recognize patterns, they used eidetic images when these were not available.  Although the authors call this eidetic imagery, they are likely actually referring to photographic memory, as the authors equate this pattern storage to a “snapshot” (Giger and Srinivasan, 1995).  Additionally, their experimental design required the bees to maintain the image for one hour.  However, this study provides weak evidence that bees are relying on photographic memory, because they rely only the bee’s ability to recognize different spatial intensity distributions in the patterns to determine that the bees are storing an exact replicate of the original pattern.  There may be several other memory mechanisms that the bees utilize to recognize different spatial intensity distributions that are not considered by the authors.  This type of faulty reasoning makes it clear that photographic memory may often be used as a default explanation for extraordinary memory abilities that we cannot explain.
Evidence for photographic memory in humans is primarily anecdotal, and documented cases are rare.  In 1970, Charles Stromeyer published an article indicating that a Harvard student named Elizabeth had photographic memory (Foer, 2006).  When Elizabeth’s right eye was exposed to a pattern of 10,000 random dots and her left eye was exposed to a different pattern of 10,000 random dots the following day, she was able to mentally fuse the two images into a three-dimensional image.  In order to complete this task, Elizabeth must have been able to store an exact replicate of the first dot pattern in her brain for an entire day.  However, even this remarkable case is tainted by the fact that Charles and Elizabeth got married, and her ability was never tested again.  Foer (2006) suggests that no one actually possesses photographic memory.  For example, in 1979, John Merrit published a photographic memory test in a magazine, hoping that he would find someone with photographic memory.  Although 30 people responded with the correct answer, none of these people were able to reproduce this ability when Merrit visited them at their homes.  Foer acknowledges that there are people with phenomenal memory abilities, but argues that there is always an underlying reason other than photographic memory.  For example, a Russian journalist was studied for three decades by a psychologist because of his amazing ability; however, it seems that he had mastered a set of mnemonic techniques that enabled his extraordinary feats.
We have a cultural tendency to label people with extraordinary memory abilities as possessing photographic memory.  For example, Stephen Wiltshire is a popular figure who has an extraordinary memory.  After taking one helicopter ride over Rome, he was able to draw a detailed and perfectly-scaled illustration of the city within three hours.  He has done the same with several other cities, including Tokyo and London.  The media refers to Wiltshire as “the human camera”, which refers to the assumption that he is able to create these illustrations from exact images of the cities in his head.  Wiltshire cannot be utilizing eidetic images, because they would not be retained for this long.  Despite the popular notion, Wiltshire also cannot simply be piecing together several photographic images, because he did not view every portion of the city from the same angle.  Instead, Wiltshire must reconstruct the images in his mind to account for the particular angle that he viewed each building from.  Therefore, it is likely that Wiltshire is not utilizing photographic memory but rather has exceptional memory abilities that we are not yet able to describe. 
There is a possibility, however, that Wiltshire has a photographic memory.  Wiltshire is autistic and has savant syndrome, a condition in which people with certain developmental disorders have incredible abilities.  It is possible that people with savant syndrome have disabled inhibitory mechanisms in the brain.  For example, the mechanism that inhibits most people from remembering all stimuli that they are exposed to may be turned off in people like Wiltshire.  According to this reasoning, Wiltshire may have a photographic memory because his brain does not sort for necessary information, but rather stores it all.  Interestingly, Wiltshire did not learn to use language effectively until he was nine years old, but instead relied heavily on visual information and drawing.  Wiltshire’s inability to verbalize at a young age may have contributed to his potentially photographic or eidetic ability.  However, the idea that disabled inhibitory mechanisms enable photographic memory is purely speculative, further demonstrating a desire to explain his extraordinary memory ability as photographic in nature.
The media’s attachment to the concept of photographic memory is clearly illustrated by its interpretation of scientific data.  A recent study by Lopez-Aranda et al. (2009) found that expression of the RGS-14 protein in layer 6 neurons of the V2 visual cortex in rats extended long-term object recognition memory from 45 minutes to many months.  This study may have been misinterpreted, as the authors defined object recognition by object exploration time and their results were contrary to the current multiple-domain model of visual memory.  Additionally, the original article does not mention photographic memory – it only comments on long-term visual memory; however, the media extrapolated from this article that the RGS-14 protein may be utilized to produce a photographic memory pill in the future (Smith, 2009).  Photographic memory is an appealing and magical concept – we want to believe in it because it is exciting.  However, there are few documented cases of photographic memory and its adaptive purpose is questionable.  Therefore, until there is further research proving the opposite, it can be concluded that photographic memory is simply a construct developed by our culture to explain extraordinary memory ability.
Foer, J. (2006, April). Kaavya Syndrome. Slate. Retrieved April 18, 2010, from
Giger, A. D., & Srinivasan, M. V. (1995). Pattern recognition in honeybees: eidetic imagery and  
orientation discrimination. J Comp Physiol A, 176, 791-795.
la Brecque, M. (1972). Photographic Memory. Leonardo, 5, 347-349.
Lopez-Aranda, M. F., Lopez-Tellez, J. F., Navarro-Lobato, I., Masmudi-Martin, M., Gutierrez,
            A., & Khan, Z. U. (2009). Role of Layer 6 of V2 Visual Cortex in Object-Recognition
            Memory.  Science, 375, 87-89.
Searleman, A. (2007, March). Is there such a thing as photographic memory? And if so, can it be 
learned?  Scientific American. Retrieved April 18, 2010, from
Smith, D. (2009, July). Coming Soon: Photographic Memory in a Pill? Popular Science.   
Retrieved April 18, 2010, from
Biography. The Stephen Wiltshire Gallery. Retrieved from


Veronica Cavazos's picture

Memory in general

I believe if it has a significance in your life positive or negative you can retain it. Unfortunately, our age and trauma play a huge role in our memory. Especially when we do something we love such as vacations, special occasions, and holidays are important to us and we can remember most of these times in our lives. What I have found amazing in Cognitive Neuroscience is that a small child's memory is at its highest peak in their baby lives. They can retain more although they were not trained to do so. That explains how they are familiar when their parents are not present, their favorite pacifier, and many other things. Take an exam for example if you are not well prepared and panicked you will not remember anything. When you take an exam you spent hours taking and 90%-100% of the time you can not remember anything on that test and we do not have a photographic memory for this or can recall verbally a few questions. Very interesting topic. Another favorite memory is Biblical stories and verses. We can remember things we read and visually see them as we read the Bible and I can retain this for many years. A memory I pray I never lose. I believe God has a lot to do with what is and is not important to remember. The positive things in our life are what keep s heading the right direction.

Kaan's picture

I have an eidetic memory

I have been told that I have an eidetic memory and in fact, my memory is exactly how it is described above. I can recall images with great detail but only for a limited time (however, some memories stay in my head forever). This helps a lot in school because I can mentally view my notes.

Kelly H's picture

I disagree...

...with the mainstream belief that eidetic and photographic memory don't truly exist. If they don't, then neither do I.

I really relate with what Anna said. I must visualize something to learn it. In school, I could flip back through the textbooks in my mind to find the answer. At work, I was undergoing a peer testing where my peers would ask me questions about the manufacturing process. I'm a chemical engineer and I was starting in a new facility. Anyway, I was referring to my notes by recalling the image of the page, and I answered all questions correctly, however, I was annoyed that my peers felt that was cheating. What?!! Just because they couldn't do that themselves?? They asked what I was "looking" at since I needed to "view" the page which generally involves me staring in space briefly and scrolling through to where the answer is written. So, I confessed that I was viewing it in my mind and they felt that was cheating because I should just "KNOW" the answers. Well, I did, but I needed to visualize it.

I can truly only learn and understand something that I see visually; I have people spell words or names out for me sometimes if I'm unfamiliar with them so I can visualize it in my mind and store it away for later. I imagine that I'm "burning" the name on the inside of my forehead. But, I don't have endless storage capacity so, as other things happen in life, I've had to clear my cache, so to speak.

A coworker once refused to give me books or drawings to learn a manufacturing process because, in her words, "everyone learns best when someone talks about it or teaches it out loud". I never could convince her that she was wrong...dead wrong.

The other thing for me is, when someone asks me to recall an event or fact, I will call up the image in my mind to see what I was doing when the fact first came to me. IOW, I travel for business a lot so I often will see myself on a hotel room bed with a computer in my lap and I can recall what I was doing at that time. And it isn't a snapshot. Although, I don't usually remember things like smells, I DO hear the voices replay in my head and I watch myself in the video as an outsider.

I asked my husband once if that's how he recalls memories of something from the past and he said a definite 'no'. I don't have a clue how "normal" folks recall things but they don't do it my way LOL.

So, I think perhaps the scientific community needs to redefine their definitions of photographic and eidetic memory rather than stating that no one has that ability. Perhaps their definitions are too strict because, in fact, a small population definitely has this ability. No, I don't remember everything that has happened or everything I've ever read but images are how I recall things.

My recall for numbers is amazing. So was my mother's. Perhaps a genetic factor? I cannot/do not use mnemonics! That's too hard and makes no sense to me! For phone numbers, though, I will visualize a telephone keypad and "press" the number as it's given to me. Maybe that's patterning but I don't do it that way for numbers other than telephone numbers. And PI... 3.14159265358979 That's as far as I've gotten and it's as far as I care to get. Anything more would waste my time and buffer space :)

John Harris's picture

Eidetic Imagery. I am 85 years old

I followed my son when he went on cruises to the med and to Scotland. I had a number of air plane passes and train passes so I traveled to Spain, France, England, Scotland. I spent time in Sardina, Barcelona, Malaga, Paris, Edinburg, etc. I am able to walk the hills in the capital of Sardina and actually have images of the little Italian woman who said hello to me in Italian as I walked down to the Main Street and can see the outside of the building where I stayed. I came out looking for a place to eat dinner an came across a small restaurant at the end of the block but hunted for at least an hour only to come back . I entered the restaurant an they seated me at a small table with two merchant marines. I can picture them.

I have the ability to jump to Padua where I can see the tomb of St Anthony, the museum of Giotto, he restaurant where I had dinner every night and see the waiter who I asked if Padua revered Giotto or St Anthony. Of course Vienice was close and I can ride a boat to the other shore and seat myself into another small restaurant.

I have the ability to jump to Rome and see the pickpocket who stole my wallet and I can jump off the train and push him in the chest when another man runs up to me and tells me that the other man does not have the wallet. I also can see the other man who was not so well dresses and much heavier. The man who helped me told me the general direction to the main police station. On my journey, which was long, I can see the tall policeman that I asked for more directions he didn't understand me but pointed a direction. I found the station and was assigned to a small Italian lady who understood some English. She took down the report. She finnaly finished it and said mama Mia mama Mia and and pointed the direction to the train station. What was strange to me is I see the man who helped me with the thief going into a store on the way. Maybe not a coincidence. I have the ability to jump to baggage section which was an enormous room but I can still see the white shopping bag I checked with my luggage. I have the the ability to jump to Barcelona and wal the the main
Avenue. I can visuall jump to Arezzo, to Arles, to Nice, to Scotland with the same vivid images.

Serendip Visitor's picture

photographic, eidetic or simply good memory?

I'm not sure what kind of memory I have-eidetic or photographic. I can recall conversations and events from the time I was three. I can open a book to the exact picture after not having seen it for 30 years. I recall events as if they were theater plays. And I do this now, at 63, as well as having done it my whole life. So I don't agree with the language ability theory. I am not very smart and I do have problems with relationships. But my memory baffles me and those around me. I read a book very slowly, but then recall passages and where to find them quite easily because I know the events in the story. I also tend to dwell on the not so good events and so I am often sad. And then I make myself snap out of it. Can any one relate to these traits?

Serendip Visitor's picture

I definitely can relate. The

I definitely can relate. The only difference for me is the way I experience those memories - I feel like I'm there, so it's more like virtual reality. It's 360, and I can look around, hear, smell, feel everything. It's pretty intense and I get lost in them sometimes. It's one of my favorite pastimes, but it can cause trouble. For example, I am still as in love with a high school ex boyfriend today as I was 10 years ago, because to me it feels like yesterday. I still remember his face, his voice, the way his hands felt, the way he kissed me. When I think about it, it's as clear as if he's right there. Doesn't help that he was a great kisser, and went on to be a saintly humanitarian lawyer and documentarian. Oy vey, it does not help. I also often dwell on negative events, but not more often than positive ones - however, since my memory is in no way selective, I don't have that helpful habit of only remembering the positive, like some lucky members of my family. I remember every bit of it, the good and the bad, the happy and sad. My grandma is the same - she and I have an identical tendency to start telling what we think is a happy story, only to end up making everyone feel very depressed by the horrible things that also happened. One example was, in a conversation around the dinner table about loving to swim, my grandma started telling us about how she used to love to swim in the creek by her childhood home in West Virginia. She and her uncles and cousins and friends would all swim in the summer there, until her beloved uncle drowned and died. My aunt, one of the lucky selective memory types in the family, was horrified at this and other recent reveries and blunt discussions my grandma has openly engaged in recently, and is now convinced she's showing early signs of dementia - but I know better. She's always talked like this with me and my immediate family, because we talk that way too. I think a combination of her advanced age making her care less about what others think, and my being more present at family gatherings with this aunt have simply been revealing a side of grandma she's not accustomed to.

Anyway, that was a novel that was essentially just intended to say "me too." :)

Brett Martin Moore's picture

Memory - mine is amazing.

I have photographic memory. Whilst at university in the 90's I realized that if I added some queues such as an aromatherapy whilst studying or had the same song playing whilst studying, then I could go into the exam and get the song playing in my head or have the oil on my hand, and I could literally read off the pages of the book I had been reading. I also rarely if ever forget anything. Sometimes I forget details after a significant amount of time ie 10 years or more but by using memory mapping.. recalling what I do recall about something, the event soon jumps into my mind in perfect clarity. I can recall so much information it is amazing. The more interest I have in the subject, the better I remember it. I do not usually remember mundane things like where did I put my wallet last night unless I do a step by step review.. this takes me a little while to work out but then I can recall everything from every action, every sound, every word spoken etc. I can also glance at someone then pull up the image I captured in my mind and examine it in more detail but if I have no interest in holding onto that image it vanishes like normal short term memory. It is not perfect however. I find some things do not stick very well. Names were hard but have come easily now. Learning a second language is hard for me (Spanish). I find there is a difference between visual auditory and kinesthetic too. If something stands out to me as unusual, I can recall an entire day of every word of every conversation. I proved this by quoting my case note entries (I am a nurse) from 12 months previous and added more detail than I had in the notes.

As a hypnotherapist I am able to get clients to recall long forgotten memories too.. so this just adds to my attempt to define what in fact I actually have. I cannot tell you every detail of every day. I must admit I do spend a lot of time in review and thus need plenty of stimulation to stay in the present. I have an exceptional imagination too so that also adds to my talent. I am about to sit an official Mensa test too as my IQ in the past has proven to be over the 99% percentile. I am not sure if this has any impact on memory.

Development. I was an unusual child. I had ADHD diagnosed in early adult hood but then that faded by the 30s and became something like Bipolar 2 disorder. I seem to have problems with relationships in that people find it hard to feel connected to me despite an amazing ability at empathy. I am able to predict what people say based on my experiences with hypnotherapy counseling and psych but that is not an unnatural skill.. Erickson described doing the same and allowed his clients to believe he was in some way a "mind reader". Nothing that explains my memory.. nothing like in the movies. I cannot tell you what I ate on the 14th of February of any year let alone what the weather was like. I generally need to WANT the memory to stay or do a review of what I experienced shortly afterwards. If I am not interested in what I am doing ie absent minded, then I suffer the same recall problems as anyone else unless as stated above, I do a step by step memory map recreation and then I recall everything. But if more than a few days passes.. no the memories are gone forever.

Brett Moore.

David's picture


If researchers want a perfect specimen to study for eidetic and photographic memory, they should be studying someone like me. I know I have both.

Anna's picture

Extended period eidetic memory?

I wonder if some people may just be able to store eidetic memories longer than outlined in these studies? I used to "read" notes from my memory when taking history tests and other similar tests in high school, and still use similar visual memories in my job as a graphic designer on a daily basis - I have a rather accurate recall of fonts (everyone in the office asks me to identify fonts when we receive flattened files to code or update from clients) and can remember images as if I were looking at them, but not necessarily forever, and not without a little bit of concentration. I just have to decide to remember it and fixate on it for 30 seconds to a minute, and then it's in there for as long as I continue to recall it. The notes I mentioned I would never look at after class, yet I could accurately "read" them when information from them was needed without having seen them for a week or more. However, if I try to recall them now (about a decade later) it's rather vague impressions of my handwriting in the vibrant blue and pink ink that I favored, the faded lines of the notebook paper, and the pink and orange highlighter I used to call out important parts of the notes. I still rely on visual memory every day to keep myself from forgetting to do important things or my grocery list, and am very good at creating drawings from "my head" or memory. Whenever I try to remember conversations or specific information, I generally "read" it - everything is stored as images of text or just vivid color images in my mind, and I remember seemingly inconsequential events that few other people do (but have been corroborated enough times to know they're not false memories) like a movie playing in full color and with stereo sound. This has made interpersonal relationships difficult, as most people have very selective memories and are often made uncomfortable when you bring up something they said or did in the first grade 15 years later, and leads to a lot of arguments and me seeming like a grudge-holder in romantic relationships, since I never forget a slight (nor a favor). I cannot read most books more than once, because as soon as I start reading I am suddenly flooded with the memory of the rest of the book, get bored, and drop it. I have problems, too, with not being able to forget negative experiences like a lot of people seem to be able to. I don't forget the good ones either, so I'm not just biased, but remembering every single negative experience in your life does take a toll. Every stubbed toe, every nice day since I was 2 years old I remember as vividly as if it were yesterday. Some of them I have to really dig for, particularly during puberty for some reason, but they're all still there if I make an effort. I also used to regularly think I knew people I had met for the first time, only to realize later that I'd simply seen them at the mall or grocery store days or months before and just remembered their face for some reason (of course this one is difficult to corroborate). I think these things are tied together. I know this means little since it's all self-reported and anecdotal, but it leads me to some discomfort with the rather limited definition of eidetic memory here. I agree that a true photographic memory - by the definition of the photograph being completely indestructible and permanent - probably doesn't exist, but perhaps the capacity of our brains is greater than we give ourselves credit for, and the storing mechanisms may vary more than these (frankly quite small) studies would indicate. Anyway, just some food for thought. I'm not a scientist, just a nerd with a big and bloated brain full of useless knowledge and annoyingly specific memories.

pamperedjane's picture

I Thought I Was The Only One

All my 47 years, the churning in my stomach from negative memories that haunt me - every word, look, disappointment, feeling......I'm forever overcome, without warning, with every imaginable feeling from my life-recollections. They callously, unwittingly, unwelcomingly hijack my psyche.....oh, there are those rushes of joy as well, but if only I could hold on to the joy. Every single thing you described, Anna, I too, experience and have experienced my entire life....same with the disinterest at the first sign of a "repeat" or familiarity...... I Truly Thank You - for today is the first time in my life, I am no longer suffering alone in my own little world - just knowing there is even ONE other soul who understands, now makes life so much brighter.

Anna's picture

Pamperedjane, I'm really

Pamperedjane, I'm really happy I was able to make you feel less alone. That's a terrible feeling I've felt myself many times. It may help you further to know there's a whole family full of me. My grandma, my father, my sister and brother, and I suspect my great-grandfather all have this trait. Do try to focus on the joy as much as you can. It can be quite a balm for the tough times - it's gotten me through quite a few desperate times when I was inches from hurling myself off a ledge (literally). Through my experience with a debilitating chronic illness and excruciating cluster headaches, I've learned to be an observer of my own mind as much as or more than an inhabitant of it. I recommend trying to cultivate that ability. It's essentially cognitive behavior therapy or mindfulness meditation - just let that anguish bubble up, watch it, observe it, try to understand it as objectively as possible, and let it pass like so many menstrual cramps ;) Because it will. I don't know your life - you may have suffered more than I, but that you had some joy means you'll almost certainly have more. I hope you can hold onto it, and I hope any of this makes a lick of sense.

Paul Grobstein's picture

eidetic vs linguistic representations

"The tendency of eidetic memory to manifest in young and old populations is particularly interesting in light of research indicating that verbalization during the time that a person studies the original image interferes with eidetic image formation.Therefore, it is plausible that the variation in frequency of eidetic imagery is due to dependence on linguistic ability"

A very intriguing idea, that linguistic representation interferes with eidetic representation.  Very much worth exploring further.