The term “photographic memory” is often heard in TV shows and movies. Photographic memory is the ability to remember intricate visual or textual details just like a photograph. This ability further helps one to retrieve from their memory whenever they want to examine it in detail. A photographic memory, for example, can help you remember entire pages of books word to word or describe an architectural design.
However, according to neurobiologists, memory does not work like a camera. So does photographic memory exist?
The scientific term used interchangeably with a photographic memory is Eidetic memory. There are considerable differences between both these terms. Eidetic imagery is proven to exist in a small percentage of children. It describes the ability to recall a visual image for some time after it has been removed from sight. Often, new details can be invented in the image known as “false memories”. People having an eidetic memory have phenomenal memories but can’t capture all the details, especially not textual information contained in all pages of a book. The latter notion has never been proven to exist and remains to be a popular myth.
Nearly 2 to 10 % of children have an eidetic memory, but this ability to remember gradually fades away such and no adult retains it. Few people do have the ability to call details better than others but that’s not photographic memory, it’s just the normal difference in memory people have among each other.
Conclusively, even an extraordinary memory in one domain does not prove the existence of the same across the whole board, however, the former can be honed and improved with practice.