8 Italians studied for 'hypermemory'

First study in world on people 'who can remember everything'

(ANSA) - Rome, July 10 - An Italian team has studied eight Italians with total recall or 'hypermemory', in the first study in the world of people able to remember what they were wearing or what they had for lunch on a given day 10 years ago. The study was carried out by the Santa Lucia IRCCS Foundation in Rome and published in the PNAS journal. It also involved the Italian Higher Health Institute (ISS), the La Sapienza University of Rome, the University of Perugia, and the University of Califormia-Irvine. The study paves the way for treatment to help people with memory pathologies regain their memory.
    Although many people are able to accurately remember events with a high emotional connotation, such as a wedding or the birth of a child, normal days are usually forgotten or leave a vague memory at the very most, the researchers said in the study.
    But individuals equipped with autobiographical hypermemory remember everything.
    And now they are the focus, for the first time in the world, of a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study aimed at understanding the neurobiological mechanisms underlying this extraordinary memory capacity, the researchers said in their study.
    "We monitored eight people with hypermemory, identified by the research group among the Italian population starting from 2015, and 21 control subjects with normo-typical memory," said the lead author of the study, Valerio Santangelo of Perugia University and the Santa Lucia Foundation.
    "The extraordinary thing is that, as well as remembering a day in the week on a long-ago date (they remember that the third of August 2011 was a Wednesday, for instance), they present a complete absence of hesitation of conscious effort when they have to bring to mind events they experienced dozens of years previously".
    Patrizia Campolongo, of La Sapienza University and the Santa Lucia Foundation, added: "The results of the study appear to show that hypermemory consists mainly in the capacity to access, via the prefrontal hippocampus circuit, trace memories that are not accessible to other subjects, thus explaining the greater capacity of the hypermemory subjects to revive minute details of their past".
    The study will enable researchers to open up new frontiers in memory research, traditionally studied in terms of hypo-functioning in pathological conditions.
    "Understanding the neurobiological systems underlying memory hyperfunctioning," concludes ISS researcher Simone Macrì, " "de facto supplies important indications on how to intervene to restore adequate functioning of the memory systems in pathological conditions".