When I saw the movie “The Bone Collector”, I saw a part of the movie which showed the female character (played by Angelina Jolie) looking at an image in her mind, and she could see everything in the image. I was just wondering if that’s how a person, who has a photographic mind, sees things in his/her mind.
No, it’s not.
They only see the image that they’re trying to remember. Not everything that was around the image.
Just out of curiosity, are you so endowed? I wish I was. I’d read a book once, give it to a friend, then recall it as often as I want. I’d do the same thing with music, movies, and any other non-interactive source of entertainment and information. Hey, It’d make for a less cluttered life. I could also violate copyright laws very easily. (Ok, so I rambled a little, so sue me.)
Making a Distinction: There is supposed to be something called an “eidetic” memory, which I believe means that somebody can look at something without necessarily comprehending it at the time, but later can call it back up and assess it then.
I can’t do that.
I’m So Clever: However, I do have the ability to replay audio, video and still-frame in my head. For example, when I go to a book trying to find a passage I’ve read before, I can almost always recall which side it was on (left page or right page) and roughly where it was on the page.
I can also listen to a familiar song in my head, in hi-fi, as a matter of will. (Unfortunately, it tends to skip around a bit.)
Counter-point: Now I imagine some people who read this will say, “Well, can’t everybody do all that?” I’m not sure that’s true. I know, for example, that one of my sisters can’t picture anything mentally, although she is highly intelligent. (I’ve heard that men can visualize images better than women, and that women mentally manipulate words better – you may fire at will.)
On to the Original Topic: When I see things in my mind, it’s as if I’m seeing something in a dark room, and I can only make out what I am “looking” directly at. (Neurologists and opthamologists: I gather that I can only “see” what I’d perceive without saccades.)
It is most certainly not something “everyone has”. I have an exceptionally bad visual memory. My girlfriend HATES watching movies with me because I ask her questions like “Uh, is that the same person who had the dynamite sticks, or is that the school teacher?” or “Is that Cher?”
I once got off the plane to visit my folks and had a moment’s worry that I would not recognize them among the folks looking for deplaning passengers. (As it turned out, the fact that they were staring at me and waving helped a great deal).
I can, however, replay something like Ferde Grofé’s Grand Canyon Suite in my head and contrast one recording (conducted by the composer) with another (conducted by someone more recent), comparing how they handled emphasis and cadence and surges and swells.
Unfortunately, it isn’t socially convenient to say “I can’t remember faces worth a damn, but I never forget a person. Say something that is genuinely you and I’ll let you know if I’ve met you before in a way that counts”.
AHunter3: Before I respond, I have to say that your sig (“Disable similes in this post”) made me laugh out loud!
Anyway, you said, “I can, however, replay something like Ferde Grofé’s Grand Canyon Suite in my head and contrast one recording (conducted by the composer) with another (conducted by someone more recent)”.
I am amazed at how good our sound memory is. Back around August I bought a CD by the group “Gentle Giant”. I noticed something just a bit odd about one little piece of it. For some reason, I mentioned this to an expert on that group, asking him why only that tiny part sounded somehow “wrong” to me.
Well, he told me, “Oh, yeah, the CD is mastered from the same tapes as the vinyl version, except for that short section you mentioned. They moved the track of the original singer’s BROTHER up to the front, whereas before he was singing background.”
I spotted the difference even though I hadn’t listened to the record in over ten years. That surprised me.
Unfortunately I don’t have a photographic mind or even a good memory. I wish I did though. It’d be really useful.
I don’t have a strictly photographic memory, but I am endowed with a few bizarre gifts.
I can often remember stupid movie trivia. Stuff that I don’t even care about. But obviously I see the movie credits, and now I know this stuff forever. For instance, I can see a character actor on TV, try to place them for a moment, and just “see” in my head their name in the credits of some other show they were in. It works like this a lot for me. Once I almost scared myself by “remembering” someone on TV that I had was certain that I had taken no notice to. But I saw them in some other show, and my mind says “That’s so-and-so!” And I’m thinking “DAMN!!! How did I know that?” Creepy. And pretty fricking useless, if you ask me. However, I am known as the resident expert among all my friends and family when it comes to movie trivia. One friend calls my gift “mutant”. When someone I know dares disbute my information about some movie trivia, etc., I merely reply “Hey, it’s ME.” (Meaning - “You are talking to The One With the Mutant Gift!”)
I also have no problem noticing if there is a difference in how a familiar piece of music sounds … like if they have a different conductor. And yes, even if I haven’t heard it in many years.
However, if I meet someone and they tell me their name, I usually forget it immediately. I have to see their name in print to be able to remember it.
I have a terrible memory on most days, but it performs extremely well sometimes. For example, I remember everything absolutely fine no matter what kind of intoxicants I take and in what quantitities. There have been several occasions when I have reminded a friend of something we did the night before and been rewarded with a blank look. Curiously, nobody has ever enlightened me in a similar manner–and yes, I like large quantities!
My memory is also selectively quirky. I can sit down and attempt to memorize a history article and not manage in a whole day, yet I have caused several of my relationships to end because of minute details that I remember. Everybody tells small lies at one point or another, or says things that they don’t really mean–I happen to be able to remember the things that someone important says to me, and replay them several months afterwards when a similar topic comes up. Remembering all these little data means building up a very accurate and very intimate profile of a person, including such elements as insecurity and infidelity. It also means having arguments and being accused of lying during a disagreement when I use this strange recall.
I too find that I remember the portion of a page in a book (not a magazine) where I read a certain sentence or paragraph, but that may just be because I love to read.
What I’d really like to know is how women seem to have PERFECT recall when it comes to recalling ANYTHING having to do with your relationship!
My wife does this to me all the time. For example:
ME: “Sorry I was such a jerk but I goofed just this once so give me a break.”
WIFE: “No way buster! Seven years ago on our fifth date you did EXACTLY the same thing! You had just ordered a Leinenkugel beer at Joe’s Bar when you did this the first time. I remember cuz the Bull’s were half-way through the third quarter and winning 62-53 against the Pistons!”
Ok…so maybe not exactly like that but you get the idea. This has happened to me with every woman I ever dated. Heck…even my mother and sister can pull this on me. Even scarier with them since they dredge stuff up from 20+ years ago.
Also, it doesn’t all have to be bad memories…the women also see, to remember a few good things here and there (maybe 80/20 bad stuff to good stuff).
So what gives? I’ve speculated to them that they just make this stuff up to get me but since I can’t remember that clearly I’m told to shut-up and take my lumps like a man.
Easy. Look at a photograph for 5 seconds. Close your eyes, try to remember the photo. It’s like that. You see it because the brain remembers it.
I’ve always been very good at remembering what I read. If I have to recall something from a text book for a test or whatever, I can call the picture of the page I need and “re-read” it. However, that power comes and goes for some reason.
When I was working on my English Final and reading The Stand, I had to pull out some quotes. Like a fool, I forgot to write down what page they came from. But I was able to remember approximately what page it was on, and where on the page.
Depending on the song, I can pick out differences. For example, when A Hard Days Night was digitially formatted, all the songs that were recorded originally in Mono, became Stereo. Very minute difference. But in one version of “If I Fall” McCartney’s voice is different then the other version. I picked that out the second I heard it.
Names and faces? Forget about it.
Every little thing that’s ever happened in my relationship? You betcha. I forget NOTHING when it comes to my BF. Drives him crazy. =)
I have an incredible memory. I do remember things
visually and especially audio. I recall conversations
I had years ago word for word. I’m learning foreign
languages just from listening to various musicals in
the language (German and now Swedish and Dutch).
It’s just the type of brain I have. It remembers everything. I don’t take any credit for it.
Actually, I have a photogenic memory. The CAT scan was simply a marvel to look at.
I do have a degree of photographic memory. It works with many things, especially if I read the information. However, it wasn’t until I was in my 20’s that I could remember math formulas.
I was discussing “photographic” recall with a friend when he informed me that he had a “pornographic memory”.
“I can recollect in perfect detail,” he said, “anything done by naked people!”
I only barely believed him.
Pornographic memory is just a matter of increased attention.
As posted by other people in this thread, I can re-read a page in my head when trying to remember answers on a test. I don’t just see the answer I am looking for, I see everything around it just as if I was looking at the book.
I also remember things I hear exactly as they were–inflection, etc. This drives my husband nuts.
I also have a weird ability to remember trivial facts, like who was the cinematographer on certain movies. (I discovered this while watching a movie with my husband, Singles, I think. Anyway, I saw the cinematographer was Tak Fujimoto and I said, "Hey, he was the cinematographer on Ferris Bueller’s Day Off! and he just looked at me, shook his head, got up and left the room. He was a little freaked out. Now he just rolls his eyes when I say things like that.)