A Case of Unusual Autobiographical Memory

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A Case of Unusual Autobiographical Memory

This report describes a woman, AJ, who claims to have exceptional, automatic and uncontrollable autobiographical memory. When she was eight years old her parents made a move to the west coast which AJ claims was traumatizing to her and caused her to want to organize her memories from back east. That's when she started keeping a diary. At age 12, she realized she had a great detailed memory. By age 14, her recall became automatic. Despite her abilities, she had a hard time in school because she "hated it". There were also numerous things in her history that point to OCD, like her numerous phobias and her obsession with neatness. She was rigorously tested to see if her claims were true. To test her authenticity, they used her years of diaries, tested her from a book of events, asked her mother and asked her what day of the week certain days fell out on. She was never told in advance what she would be tested on.

The results of her tests were very odd. Her memory differs from other cases of exceptional memory because her memory is only on personal things and things that she finds interesting and closely linked to dates and her personal experiences on them. As by the other cases of superior memory where people were able to remember random strings of numbers and other random information, it was never reported that these people have great autobiographical memory and were never bothered by constant automatic memorization. She claimed that when the right retrieval cues are presented, her memory goes on automatic and moves from one memory to the next. Also, by the other cases, it is believed that these people have mastered memory strategies (e.g. the method of loci) and have practiced. AJ is not a gifted memorizer. She had terribly hard times remembering random numbers of the "War of Ghosts" story. Also, other good memorizers are not born with these abilities and they have control over them. The main thing that makes her...
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