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Ask Dr. Julie: Is Eidetic Memory The Same As Photographic Memory?

In this segment of Ask Dr. Julie, we have a great question that comes in from one of our YouTube followers, Peanut-B. Great name! So Peanut asks whether or not eidetic memory is this the same thing as photographic memory; if it’s real and whether or it’s something that can be developed, and are people born with it?

So there’s maybe some controversy on this topic and people question whether or not a photographic memory is really real. Well, at the end of the day, the thing that we’re really wanting to know is “can people look at something and remember it really easily?” Yes. If you have a great visual recall, memory recall, you might be able to look at something and remember a lot of details from it or all of it, or even hone in on a complete page of information. I can remember myself, in college, I would be studying for a test and on the test, I would sit there and I’d think, “Oh, that answer was on page 423. Wait a minute, let me close my eyes and zoom in on the page.”

So I would get a visual of the page and I would zoom in on it. So yes, some people do have kind of that type of photographic memory. Mine probably came from me looking at it 10 times, but it still meant that I had good visual recall for what I was seeing. And to this day, I still do. A lot of people have the ability to grow that, build it or rewire it better, and actually enhance that over time. There are certain skills that you can do in order to try and enhance your visual memory. Of course, that’s what we work on in our clinic.

So if someone comes in and they have binocular vision or two-eyed vision skill problems, then they may not have the most robust visual memory and visual recall, but that’s something that we work on to get that to be better and better. Yes, a lot of people have the ability to look at something and say, “I can remember that from looking at it one time and remember it, just like I could almost see it like a snapshot in my mind.” Absolutely.

So is it real? I think so, yes. Are people born with it? No, not necessarily. I don’t think that someone’s born with the ability to have a great visual recall over someone else. It actually has more to do with binocular skills. So if someone is born with great binocular skills, they may have a little bit of a better ability to remember by visual recall versus someone who isn’t having binocular vision skills so great, they may struggle a little bit more.

Some people will compensate by having better visual recall because they can’t remember things auditorily. So there’s a lot of factors that go into this. I can’t necessarily say that we’ve located a gene, or something like that, that says that that person will have a photographic memory over someone else, but you can enhance it. It’s what we do all the time in our clinic in working with our patients. And like I said, I myself, can kind of do those things with some regularity. So it is something that people can have.

So I hope this answers your question, Peanut-B. Thanks so much for sending questions into us. We love all of our YouTubers who constantly ask questions and put information out there on our videos, just to be able to learn more. We hope that you subscribe today! Keep those things up and I’ll keep up the videos; answering them for you. Thanks for tuning in and there’ll be more, so tune in later. Don’t forget to contact us if you have any more questions!