Our lives are a compilation of memories, some we want to keep—others we’d sooner kick to the curb and leave for trash pick-up. We hold on to the good ones, replaying them over and over like a favorite hit record on an antique turntable. The bad ones either hurt or embarrass us. Sometimes we can selectively banish them from coming back to haunt us.
How’d you like to have hyperthymesia or highly superior autobiographical memory, or HSAM? If you did, you’d be Super Memoryman or Memorywoman, able to remember every moment of your life since you were the tender age of ten. But would you want to?
Around the corner from me at the University of California Irvine, researchers studied 11 subjects with HSAM in July. They confirmed another 33 with the gift, and planned to interview more people thought to have such superpowers.
“Health on Today” noted that HSAM individuals “tend to obsess over events (even mundane ones) more than the average person. They ruminate over what happened during the day and organize everything in their minds over and over again.”
That sounds awfully like obsessive/compulsive disorder, doesn’t it? And it sounds like way too much work. I have enough to think about—like my “to do” list of the day, week, and month—to entertain memories of what I had for lunch and with whom on Oct. 18, 1983. How about you?
Do it naturally
Dr. Gary Small, a memory and longevity expert quoted in the story, said he figures people with HSAM automatically do what others are taught to do to improve memory: to focus attention, create associations and give those associations meaning.
I’ll close with a link to this UCLA story about how simple lifestyle changes (yes, again), can help your memory. Remember: I want you to be the very best boomer gal you can be.