How to Develop a Photographic Memory from Scratch

This experiment is an exemplary demonstration of the “Pegging” technique, a mnemonic method that takes advantage of our mind’s propensity to retain images better than sounds and symbols (letters and words by way of illustration). Imagine being able to simply look at a page of information and being able to recall every word simply by referring to your memory. There is documentation of Tibetan monks who do not read to memorize, but “absorb” information from text by simply looking at it. They have been trained to treat the page as an image, remembering not the individual words and letters but the image of the page which they can then retrieve specific words from at will.

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The infographic at the top of the article visualizes the following experiment:

The New York Times article “Story? Unforgettable. The Audience? Often Not” by Benedict Carey discusses the findings of their experiments:

In one experiment, they had 60 University of Waterloo students associate 50 random facts (a shrimp’s heart is in its head; 8 percent of men are color blind) with the faces of 50 famous people, like Madonna, Wayne Gretzky and Oprah Winfrey. Half of the students “told” each fact to one of the faces, reading it aloud when the celebrity’s picture appeared on a computer screen. The other half read each fact silently and saw a different celebrity moments afterward.

The students then took a memory test. They chose from face-fact pairs: those which they remembered from learning a fact, and those they remembered from reading facts out loud in the first phase of the study. The students who simulated telling the facts did 16 percent worse on the test than the students who were fed the facts while seeing celebrity faces.

One of the most effective tactics that can be used in the development of a photographic or eidetic memory is the pegging system. It is unlikely for an individual to develop an eidetic memory my simply mastering the  pegging system, but it will certainly play a strong role in the process.

Our next article will delve into further detail to include:

  1. The history of the pegging system
  2. Its uses
  3. Examples