Marilu Henner – also sometimes written as Mary Lou Henner – most famous for her role as Elaine Nardo in the classic sitcom Taxi, last night appeared on CBS’ 60 Minutes to document her incredible memory.
Henner, born Mary Lucy Denise Pudlowski on April 6th, 1952, is gifted with a rare ability called superior autobiographical memory. Her superior memory allows her to remember every day of her life as if it was yesterday, and often with people who have this trait they can recall memories from their earliest days.
The condition goes by a few names and is also referred to as Hyperthymesia, Piking or Hyperthymestic Syndrome. A study was conducted on the first person found to have super memory ability and the results were published in 2008.
For the first time ever five of the six were brought together by 60 Minutes, and during the show they discussed their experiences and feelings, the positives and the drawbacks of having such vivid memories.
One thing they all agree on is how surprising it is that so many people (family and friends) forget so many things.
Doctors were also brought in on the show to explain possible causes for the trait and they reported that MRI scans have shown people with Hyperthymesia have an enlarged temporal lobe, and their caudate nucleus is also oversized.
The caudate nucleus lies deep within the brain’s core. Doctors have discovered a connection between its over sizing and obsessive compulsive disorders in the subject. Experts are still unclear as to whether the increased size is due to memory exercise or if the subjects are born that way.
Hyperthymesia is different to photographic or eidetic memory, a condition where the subject is able to study an image for a short time then recall it in almost perfect detail for a while afterwards.
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images: turanfm.com, nature.com