NORTH TEXAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – How would you feel about being able to remember everything, I mean every single thing, about your life?
Lewisville resident Bill Brown can remember everything from his childhood, back to November 30, 1977 when he spent some time in England. He remembers getting on the school bus and the driver giving him a flyer for a football match between Ipswich Town and Manchester City.
But it wasn’t until brown saw a show featuring people with superior memories on CBS’ 60 Minutes that he realized he has Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory or HSAM.
Brown can recall the day a date falls on and the details of his life surrounding it. Inane details like he went to Pizza Hut on Saturday September 6, 1986, with his friend Dave Smith and watched the movie Top Gun.
But if you think people with HSAM are superhuman, you’d be wrong.
“They don’t have what they call a remarkable memory all around,” explained Dr. Michael Rugg, who studies Human Memory at The Center for Vital Longevity at the University of Texas at Dallas. “They have this extraordinary autobiographical memory but it does not mean that they have great memory for arbitrary information that does not directly relate to their experience.”
Though you may not have HSAM Dr. Rugg has some simple strategies to improve your memory. “When trying to learn information, understand that information and what it means, what’s its significance and then relating it to other significant things in your memory,” he suggested.
And for those of you who struggle to remember a license plate or phone number—here’s a tip. Try not to remember individual numbers. “I would engage in what’s called chunking,” said Dr. Rugg. “Take the area code, the three number part and the four number part and try to find a relationship.”
Dr. Rugg’s other strategy is “retrieval practice” which he says is very efficient to memorize details. Try to understand the meaning or reason for what you’re trying to remember, and then write down as many details on paper. This will help you retain information much longer.
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