A Woman Who Remembers Everything

A woman in New York City who remembers everything:

Owen described her computer-like recall, explaining that she visualizes a page in a calendar before getting down to the actual memory.

“For me, I will often see a calendar in my head, and it’s usually a month at a time,” she said.

“When I hear the date, it’s like my brain immediately goes to a position on a calendar and once I locate it, I see what happened instantly.”

Owen’s mind seamlessly hops from era to era, year to year without a hitch.

“I usually describe it as time travel. As soon as you say that date, I’m instantly there,” she said. “I know how I felt, I know what happened that day. It’s as if it happened five minutes ago, as opposed to 22 years ago.”

She will be featured on 60 Minutes this Sunday.

Update: the videos are online — part 1, part 2

5 comments

  • I just was getting online to send you the link to this on the 60 minutes website…..so amazing. Makes me feel like I have an absolute crap memory lol. I can’t even remember what I did for my birthday last year. Barely, anyways…..well maybe that’s cuz I drank a lot haha. But you know what I mean…

  • Thanks — I didn’t know they were online. I added links to the videos above…

  • People with autobiographical memory are talented in things unrelated to mnemonists. And they can’t do well in memory contests from what I understand. I perused Jill Price’s book, she is one of these rare people with autobiographical memory. In testing she was given some rows of numbers to memorize in a few minutes (any of the top 500 memory competitors could do it it in 10-15 seconds, IMO). She could do no better than an average person.

  • Interesting… I wonder if people with her ability would have any special advantage if they did put in the effort to train.

    I’ve heard that even trained mnemonists can’t memorize better than average people if it’s memorizing something that they haven’t trained to memorize. I’m not sure if I believe that though, because once you understand the concepts of association and location, it seems like they could be applied to just about anything.

    I still haven’t been able to watch the videos because they won’t play on my computer.

  • I saw the 60 Minutes program. From what I understand these people with autobiographical memory are using a different part of their brain than mnemonists. These people have larger part of the brain that also is related to obsessive compulsive disorder. While the mnemonists in using loci exercise the hippocampus. These autobiographical memory people are good at the calendar trick discussed in most memory books.