Book Definition: An especially clear and persistent form of memory that is quite rare; sometimes known as "photographic memory."


This is very rare, but people with eidetic memory can recall images, sounds, and objects in their memory. The word 'Eidetic' means something related to extraordinary detailed recollection of visuals and images(Greek).Some people see this ability as an advantage,such as being able to remember equations on tests because they can create mental images. But others see it as a curse, because people with eidetic memory struggle to forget bad memories. Ex- It's hard to forget the moments of when you were with your ex-boyfriend. Whether or not this ability is genetic is still unknown.

In Your Own Words

  • Where your brain can almost take a "snapshot" like a camera of something it sees or reads and remember it in complete detail.
  • When you can basically take a "mind photo" of something by just looking at it and being able to recall it completely.
  • The ability to retain images in memory that are high quality, but the most important aspects of the memory are the most detailed.
  • The ability to recall memories with extreme accuracy and in great volumes.
  • Being able to look at something, process it, and reiterating it at a later time with great detail.
  • Being highly sensitive to detail and being able to recall a mental image of the memory.
  • Being able to look at an object once and then recalling exactly what it looked like without seeing it again.
  • Being able to memorize an objects most important, meaningful features in great detail.
  • Mental scans of material to the sharpest detail and the ability to be able to recall it


  • If you flipped through a deck of cards and then were able to recite their exact order by suit/color/number.
  • Glancing at a building as you drive past it and being able to draw it with perfect detail once you get home.
  • Being able to read off many numbers of pi and to recite it back perfectly.
  • The dot pattern in the book. A woman could look at two patterns of dots, combine them into one pattern without seeing the first again, and easily recall the pattern for days afterward.
  • Being able to look at pictures such as this and combining the patterns to make one image.
  • Getting all the answers to your test correct because you can picture the words on the textbook pages you read the night before.
  • Remember the book "Cam Janson" from when we were little....? She was a first grader with a photographic memory that got hired to be used as an investigative reporter because she could remember everything perfectly.
  • Being able to memorize lots of numbers on a page when briefly looking at it.
  • A person can remember exactly word for word what they read because they can take a "picture" of it in their mind.
  • Remembering all your friends phone numbers the first time they give it to you
  • The character Spencer Reid has eidetic memory on the show "Criminal Minds". He can vividly remember events as pictures.
  • Remembering things through mental images.

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Additional Resources

  3. Harvard Test
  • An experiment was done by Leonard Doob in 1964 to see if eidetic imagery is higher among people that are illiterate verses people that are literate. So he went to the Ibo, people in Eastern Nigeria, to test his theory on the rural and urban people. The experimental group varied in age and gender so there was no bias. They were presented a picture that they have never seen before and were asked to describe what they just saw. The results showed that the illiterate group was able to convey what they saw more so than the literate group. Afterwards, Doob concluded that eidetic imagery in the Ibo's decreased with age and schooling.
    • Doob, L. W. (1964). Eidetic images among the Ibo. Ethnology, 3(4), 357-363.

Test your photographic memory!