Friday, December 21, 2007

Amazing memory

Not the kind that allows its possessor to reel off the New York City phone book, but the autobiographical kind. In this piece, Amy Ellis Nutt talks about a couple of people who possess this sort of memory and about what researchers have learned from them. Here's an extract:

"If you take a random date," Williams said, "I can usually tell you what town I was living in, whether I was in school, what job I was working at, and then I can cross-reference to something else."

McGaugh asked, "So if I say the year is 1987, the month is July and the day is the 15th?"

"Well, I was working at the radio station at La Crosse and I had already been working on a play, backstage, on a production of 'Peter Pan.' But that particular date doesn't bring anything specific to mind."

"You didn't give the day of the week," said McGaugh.

"It was a Wednesday."

"So how did you know it was a Wednesday?"

"The Fourth of July was on a Saturday that year."

"How did you know the Fourth of July was on a Saturday?"

"Because it was two days after 'Peter Pan' closed, which was on a Thursday."