Quick: what did you have for lunch yesterday? How about two days ago? If you remember, then you have a pretty good memory - but how about remembering everything you have seen and experienced throughout your life in vivid detail as if it was happening right now?
Meet Jill Price, the woman who simply could not forget:
The three UC Irvine scientists who studied her decided that her case deserved its own name—hyperthymestic syndrome, academic Greek for "exceptional memory"—and it's not hard to see why.
I come prepared with a stack of questionnaires, and when we return to her house, Price is kind enough to let me administer my tests, easily blowing through the first few. I ask, for example, if she can tell me some dates of famous accidents and airline crashes; she's all but unstoppable. She instantly retrieves from memory the exact dates of the explosions of space shuttle Challenger and Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. She remembers not just that September 25, 1978, was when a PSA flight crashed in San Diego but also that the jet collided with a Cessna. She can go in either direction, disaster to date or date to disaster. When I say "January 13, 1982," Price has no trouble recalling the Air Florida flight that plummeted into the Potomac.
According to McGaugh's Neurocase article, Price is even more astounding on the events of her own life. At the scientists' behest, for example, she recalled—without warning and in just 10 minutes—what she'd done on every Easter since 1980. "April 6, 1980: 9th grade, Easter vacation ends. April 19, 1981: 10th grade, new boyfriend, H. April 11, 1982: 11th grade, grandparents visiting for Passover ..
And before you think it's a wonderful thing to have such a prodigious memory, imagine this: Jill Price remembers all the sad and bad things in her life - the death of loved ones, for instance, like it's happening right now. Time heals all wounds, but not for Jill Price.
Link (Photo: Bryce Duffy)
Here's a clip of Jill Price as interviewed on 20/20 by Diane Sawyer:
Jill recounts her experience in her new book: The Woman Who Can't Forget
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