What’s it like to remember every single day of your life?

16 January 2023

Professor Gail Robinson from UQ’s School of Psychology featured in this Sydney Morning Herald article about photographic memories. 

As a memory researcher, Professor Robinson is sometimes contacted by people who claim to have photographic memories, or HSAM, as well as those who struggle to make episodic memories at all.

She’s met another savant who could recreate buildings and landscapes on the page remarkably accurately, but “it came at a major cost to his other abilities”.

“He couldn’t process faces or words properly.”

Some experts wonder if certain people are better tuned-in to detail.

“There’s one idea that if you focus on the details, you don’t have the gestalt, the whole,” explains Professor Robinson.

Or is it just that an artistic prodigy such as Wilshire will notice what the rest of us might miss if scanning a city skyline – in the way that NBA star LeBron James’ impressive ability to recount play-by-play moments of a basketball game could come down to his sporting expertise.

“I had a patient only yesterday tell me they had a photographic memory,” says Robinson.

“But I don’t think it exists in quite the [Hollywood] form.”

Read the article