What if you finished reading this article and remembered every detail of it for the rest of your life? That's the problem people with super-autobiographical memory face—and yes, it's often referred to as a problem, not a gift. Their minds are like a computer hard drive that retains everything: dates, middle names, license plate numbers, even what they eat for lunch on a daily basis. There are only four confirmed super memory cases, a disorder experts say is somewhat related to OCD, though no doubt there are plenty others who haven't been identified yet.
So who are the four individuals who've all recently been the subject of a study at the Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory at the University of California, Irvine? Let's meet them and find out"¦
1. Bob Petrella
According to a piece on ABC news, Petrella "remembers all but two of his birthdays since he turned 5. He recalls where he was and what he did with high school buddies. Grainy images of the 1970s are vivid pictures in his head. "˜I remember all my ATM codes,' he said. "˜I remember people's numbers. [I] lost my cell phone Sept. 24, 2006. A lot of people, if they lost their cell phone, they would panic because they have all these numbers. I didn't have any numbers in my cell phone because I know everybody's numbers up here [in my head].'
2. Jill Price
Like Bob Petrella, Price calls California home, though working as an assistant at a Jewish religious day-school, she's about as far from Hollywood as you can get. And although people she meets at parties are impressed with her ability to remember everything from the date of the Lockerbie plane bombing (December 21, 1988) to the last episode of Dallas (May 3, 1991), in her memoir, she describes super memory as a nuisance, partly because she can't seem to forget painful events, like when someone she was crushing on rejected her.
3. Brad Williams
Unlike Bob Petrella, Williams has a tough time with sports, but excels at pop-culture trivia. For instance, he could name you every Academy Award winner and even nailed all five questions in the category "1984 Movies" when he appeared on Jeopardy! in 1990.
Although the folk at the Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory at the University of California, Irvine don't agree, Williams says he never saw his ability as anything out of the ordinary. "Growing up, I never really had reason to think I wasn't like everyone else," he has said. A feature-length doc on his life, titled Unforgettable, is presently in production.
If you're interested in the subject, remember to check it out once it hits theaters.
4. Rick Baron
According to the USA Today piece on Baron, his sister claims he shows signs of hardcore OCD. "He organizes and catalogs everything. He even keeps his bills in order of the city of the Federal Reserve Bank where they were issued and also by how the sports teams in that city did."