Does Hyperthymesia Make You Smart?
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These Might Be The Smartest People You Could Ever Encounter

How, do you think you could handle a complete recollection of everything that has happened to you, every day, every hour of your life?

These Might Be The Smartest People You Could Ever Encounter


Say that five times fast. If you have it, it may be easy for you.

The word derives from Ancient Greece. It means "Excessive Remembrance." Most people recall their earliest memories happening around the age of 3 or 4, and for the most part, those living with HSAM or Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory do too. However, something extremely rare happens to them around the time of puberty and their already strong memory fortifies. They claim that each day, each event in their lives is spread out before their mind's eye, and they can access each one like a scene selection on a DVD. It sounds unbelievable, but there are much documentation and objective study proving these claims to be true.

When you are a person with superior autobiographical memory, your mind is like an encyclopedia of days; you can flip to any page to relive or rehash specific memories. Although this sounds like a superpower, people with this ability don't always have a say in what vivid memories revisit them, and often struggle with overloads of neural information. That doesn't keep this unique set of skills from being super. Those with hyperthymesia tend to have high cognitive ability in other areas than just memory: they tend to have higher IQs, and emotional intelligence. The National Library of Medicine released this study in 2014 and made groundbreaking observations.

"The neuroimaging data reveals HK's (Subject with Hyperthymesia) right amygdala to be nearly 20% fractionally larger than normals, in the face of significantly reduced gray and white matter volumes. Additionally, HK has significantly increased connectivity between his right amygdala and hippocampus, as well as distal cortical and subcortical regions."

In short, their brains have a specific set of features that enable them to process at a higher rate than most of us. This very well could be the next step in evolutionary fitness. It is theorized

Memory is much like a film reel--where some shots are more visible than others.

An in-depth study covered in The Guardian reports that people with superior memories are susceptible to extreme stress. The act of not being able to forget anything can be more of a curse than a blessing if there are things you don't want to remember.

"There was a nice positive correlation there, showing that the better their memory, the more OCD they were," LePort said, adding that it makes sense: if subjects are exhibiting obsessive behaviors generally, then they might also be obsessively recalling their memories, rehearsing and therefore retrenching them, making them stronger. Every time they access that memory, it is easier because they have done it before – repetition is one of the surest ways to memorize information."

So far, only 22 people in this country have been diagnosed and successfully tested to be hyperthymic. Undoubtedly there are more people out there with this powerful ability. The study didn't begin into hyperthymesia until 2006, so it is unknown whether this genetic mutation is new, or well hidden. Science fiction stories like X-men paint a realistic picture of how genetically dissimilar people can be oppressed, forcibly studied and tested, and ostracized. It's no wonder secrets are kept, especially when they involve being superhuman. Maybe some people don't know their memories are so developed and unique, as they only can compare their experience to themselves. Maybe one day we will learn there are thousands of people with superior memory hiding in plain sight.

Time will tell. Or, it won't.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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