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What is Superior Autobiographical Memory

What is Superior Autobiographical Memory - Actress Marilu Henner is best known for her turn on "Taxi" and a 2008 stint on "Celebrity Apprentice." But her brain is far more remarkable than her IMDB credits.

As "60 Minutes" reported last night, Henner is one of just six Americans diagnosed with "superior autobiographical memory," or hyperthymesia. People with the condition have the incredible ability to recall exactly what happened each day of their lives, starting at a very young age. Ask Henner what happened on, say, May 18, 1993, and she can tell you about the weather, news headlines, and personal happenings.

What is Superior Autobiographical Memory

Intrigued? Here are five more facts about superior autobiographical memory.

1. It was first announced in 2006.
In 2006, neurobiologist James McGaugh discussed the first known case of superior autobiographical memory in the medical journal "Neurocase." The woman had reached out to McGaugh in 2000, saying to him an e-mail, "I just hope somehow you can help me. I'm 34 years old, and since I was 11, I've had this unbelievable ability to recall my past."

2. A pristine memory isn't always a good thing.
In her memoir, "The Woman Who Can't Forget," the first woman diagnosed with superior autobiographical memory, Jill Price, writes, "Imagine being able to remember every fight you ever had with a friend, every time someone let you down, all the stupid mistakes you've ever made."

3. Lesley Stahl diagnosed it in Marilu Henner.
"60 Minutes" correspondent Lesley Stahl has been friends with Henner for years, and when she started working on the superior autobiographical memory segment for the show, she realized that it sounded a whole lot like Henner.

4. Their memories are pretty normal in other respects.
Jill Price has "below-average memorization skills," according to the "Seattle Post-Intelligencer." Sometimes the condition helps with games and trivia, but it doesn't assure victory: Brad Williams, the second American identified with superior autobiographical memory, came in second on "Jeopardy!"

What is Superior Autobiographical Memory


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