Do you like tests? If you’re like most kids, the answer is probably a resounding “No!” Tests can be a lot of work, especially in subjects like history that have a ton of facts to remember.

Sometimes you might wish you had a better memory. Have you ever gotten down to the last couple of questions on a test, but you just can’t seem to remember the answer? At these times, you probably wish you could see the pages of your textbook like a photograph in your memory.

Do you know someone who has a really good memory? Some people are gifted in special ways when it comes to exceptional memory. Some people even claim to have a photographic memory. This means they can recall things they’ve seen or read with almost-perfect precision, even down to the smallest of details.

Photographic memory is the common name for eidetic memory. The word “eidetic” comes from the Greek word that means “seen.” Eidetic memory is actually broader than photographic memory.

Photographic memory often refers to precise recall of mainly visual images. Eidetic memory, on the other hand, refers to precise recall that can involve details gained from the other senses, such as hearing, feeling, taste and smell.

One example of eidetic memory is the ability to study an image for about 30 seconds and keep an almost-perfect photographic memory of that image in the mind after it’s removed. People who can do this — sometimes called eidetickers — claim that they can “see” the image in their minds as if it was still right before their eyes.

True eidetic memory is very rare. Some scientists have observed that individuals with autism or autism spectrum disorders, such as Asperger syndrome, may occasionally exhibit exceptional memory that resembles eidetic or photographic memory.

For the most part, though, extraordinary memory events are just that — extraordinary, but not necessarily up to the level of eidetic or photographic memory. In fact, most claims of true eidetic or photographic memory are merely word-of-mouth reports that haven’t been proven scientifically.

Many people have developed extraordinary memories over time by using a variety of skills and learning techniques. For example, a Japanese engineer — Akira Haraguchi — has memorized the mathematical constant pi to its first 100,000 decimal places. But does he have a photographic memory? Nope! He’s just good with numbers!

94 Join the Discussion

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  1. When I looked I thought this would a great story. I’m in Mrs. Hess’ class I cannot wait to watch the video in 30 minutes. By the way you Wonderopolis friends make the world better.

    • Thanks for WONDERing with us today, Isaiah! We hope you enjoy the Wonder video today, and we are glad you and your Wonder Friends in Mrs. Hess’ class joined us today! WOHOO! :)

  2. I didn’t know an insect could lift that much. To me that video was pretty interesting but I think it made a few people jealous because a little insect could carry that much. I sure was and it was driving me crazy. I can’t wait to see this new video at school in like 30 minutes. I don`t know how it’s so close. ;)

    • We’re glad you learned something new with us, Jake! We don’t think you have to worry about the strength of ants, though… we are heavier as human beings because we have more muscle mass! Thanks for sharing your comment! :)

  3. We read a book about Cam Janson and her photographic memory.

    We think tomorrow’s wonder will be about Jesus.

    • How cool, we’re so glad you are read a book that connected to today’s Wonder, Ms. Bayko’s Class! Thanks for guessing what tomorrow’s Wonder will be, too! :)

  4. We wondered why the cars were moving fast, but most of the people were moving slowly. We weren’t aware there was an eleventh memory. We didn’t know there were ten types of memories before.

    We are looking into learning more about eidetic memory.

    Predictions: perfect stuff (seasons, cars), people who claim to be perfect, perfect weather, perfection, perfectionists, animals that can do a lot, no one is perfect, perfect attendance, baking (perfect cakes), people changing, perfect hearts, perfect life, perfect topic…

    • Hi there, Mrs. Hess! We are glad you and your class learned something new about memory today! The video is showing how a regular person with special memory can see things that are happening very quickly, but still remember is as if it were in slow motion! :)

      Keep up the great WONDERing– we can’t wait to find out if one of your guesses will match tomorrow’s Wonder! HOORAY! :)

  5. I knew about the term one photo = one thousand words but I do not know how you get a photographic memory. Is it scientific or just natural? I think that tomorrow’s wonder of the day will be about the U.S. Navy or about no one being perfect.

    • Hey there, JC, thanks for visiting us today! It would be cool if you could learn how to get a photographic memory, but it’s a skill you are born with (and it’s quite rare!). Thanks for sharing your awesome guesses for tomorrow’s Wonder! :)

  6. Dear Wonderopolis,

    Thanks for the photos, we didn’t know that some people have the amazing ability to remember things just like they are. Some of us believe we have a photographic memory from time to time.

    We think tomorrow’s wonder will be about a model.

    Thank you for the wonders,
    Mrs. Tillman’s 4th graders

    • Hey there, Wonder Friends in Mrs. Tillman’s 4th grade class! We were amazed by today’s Wonder, too! We bet a photographic memory comes in handy from time to time, you lucky ducks! :)

      Thanks for WONDERing with us today! :)

  7. My 3rd grade class LOVED this film. It is so mysterious, and the music is “eerie”, “haunting”, and “beautiful”. We plan on watching it again to try and figure it out! Several members of the class wished they could get the music to play this on the piano. This reminded us of the Wonderopolis film about the haunted house.

    • What great words to describe today’s Wonder! Way to go, Wonder Friends in Mrs. Schlette’s class! HOORAY! Thanks for joining us today, and making connections to other Wonders, too! HOORAY! :)

  8. We thought today’s Wonder was memorable. ;) It reminded Kaitlyn of 39 clues becuase there is a character that has a photographic memory.

    We jumped over to Wonder #233 about Morse code because one of our etymology lessons this week uses tele- and we were curious about telegraphs and telegrams since they show up so often in literature. Thanks for being ready with an answer for us Wonderopolis!!

    We think tomorrow’s wonder will be about Mrs. Ski.


    Seriously, though, we think tomorrow’s wonder will be about Miss Piggy and Kermit, Mary Poppins… actually we are stumped by this one and anxious to get to school tomorrow and learn all about it. :)

    • We like your style, Wonder Friends in Mrs. Ski’s Class! What a great pun and connection to our Wonder today! How awesome that you found another Wonder that connects to your lessons this week– YIPPEE for curiosity!

      We Wonder if you can write a Wonder of your own about the AMAZING Mrs. Ski?! We think it would be really WONDERful!

      We’re all in for a treat tomorrow… keep up the WONDERing in the meantime! :)

  9. Very interesting. I wish I could have photographic
    memory, it would help a lot on tests. :D But, I do pay attention in school, so I’m not too bad. O_o

    • We’re glad you try your best in school, Hazelnut, that’s what really matters! Having a photographic memory would be great, but we like using our imaginations more! :)

    • What a great way to use your imagination, Gabriel! We Wonder what you’d like to remember if you had a photographic memory?! :)

  10. Why did the music have to sound so sad in the photographic memory one? In one of the scenes people to left are not even moving. ; )

    • Great question, Andrea! We don’t like to be sad, but we are glad that today’s Wonder video evoked emotion– that’s the beauty of music! Sometimes it can make you feel different things. :)

  11. I love these little facts of life that you give me :-). Thanks I think I have a photographic memory, thanks for the information. Could you do one about sharks in the sea?

  12. I think the article for today was very interesting I loved the video I just read and watched do you have a photographic memory?

    • We’re thrilled to know that you enjoyed today’s unforgettable Wonder, Kalen! We WISH we had a photographic memory, but unfortunately, we do not! We’ll have to use our imaginations to pretend we do! :)

  13. Hey I thought the wonder of the day was pretty awesome I liked the video some people in my class almost cried about the music I am in the ace class which is a class where we go to do extra curriculum it is so much fun! But I have a question….. can you do a wonder on wolves?

  14. I think this website is amazing and it’s the website you can count on when your ready to take a step forward and make a difference.

  15. Dear Wonderopolis,

    We enjoyed learning about photographic memories. We wish we all had photographic memories, because we would all be A+ students if we did.

    We think tomorrow’s wonder will be about Hawaii, Florida, or even life.

    Thank you for the wonders,
    Mrs. Witkowski’s 4th graders

    • We think it would be nice to have a photographic memory, too! However, we know our Wonder Friends in Mrs. Witkowski’s 4th grade class are great at using their very own imaginations, too! We can’t wait to find out what tomorrow’s Wonder will be… see you soon! :)

    • We’re so glad to hear it, car-car! Thanks for sharing your comment! What was your favorite part of today’s Wonder? :)

  16. We thought the information was interesting. It reminded us of the book character – Cam Jansen. She has a photographic memory and uses it to solve mysteries. But…we really didn’t like the video. It was hard for us to understand. :0(

    We hopped over and then did the video about Hippos. We liked that one much better. And learned a lot!

    We aren’t sure what tomorrow will be about, so we will just be surprised.

    Thank you for making Wonderopolis. It makes our day!!!!

    • Thank you so much for WONDERing with us today, Miss Holden’s 2nd Grade Class! We are glad that you were reminded of Cam Jansen, she sounds very cool! :)

      It’s super that you hopped over to our hippo Wonder, too! HOORAY for learning with great Wonder Friends! :)

  17. Wow that was a good one I am so happy that this web site is here it gives me something to think about at school every day it’s amazing. P.S. Keep up the great work. :0

    • Thank you for WONDERing with us, Merle! We LOVE WONDERing with you, especially at school! Learning new things with a great friend like you makes us smile! :)

  18. We think tomorrow’s Wonder will be about Reese’s because they say it’s the perfect combination of peanut butter and chocolate. We hope Mrs. Ski at least thinks to bring in some Reese’s cups for us. ;)

    Maybe it will be about perfect pitch? We hope it’s as memorable as today’s.

    • YUM, your making us hungry, Mrs. Ski’s PM Class! We hope you have a treat tomorrow! We’ll see you then, for tomorrow’s Wonder. You can fill us in then! :)

  19. Thanks for the wonder! We’re going to work on some memory building skills! We think tomorrow’s wonder will be about the number 10, or perfect ‘pitch’.

  20. Hello,

    Some of us think we might have a photographic memory. We think that what you said is true but we had a couple of questions. We were wondering if Mr. Haraguchi was still alive? Does anyone at Wonderopolis have a photographic memory?

    Please write back. :)

    • Hi there, Wonder Friends in Ms. Fulenwider’s Class! We wish we had a photographic memory sometimes, but we’ll just keep our memory sharp in other ways– like WONDERing! :) Mr. Haraguchi is still alive and well– he’s a former engineer who now works with different companies as a consultant! WOW! Thanks for sharing your comment today! :)

    • We love your enthusiasm, Marley! Thanks for sharing your comment about our memory Wonder! While it would be great to remember everything, we agree with you– it could be worse! :-)

    • Hi there, Edgar! We’re so glad you’re here! Thanks for letting us know how much you enjoy WONDERing with us– we look forward to seeing you soon! :)

    • Hi there, Wonder Friend Kathy! We are so glad you’ve been thinking about our photographic Wonder with us; we wish we had a photographic memory from time to time! :-)

      Thanks for sharing your guess for tomorrow’s Wonder… we think you’re on the right track! :)

    • So do we, Manuel! Having a photographic memory would seem like a super power! :) Thanks for WONDERing with us today, Wonder Friend! :)

  21. Hey so it’s true I do HATE tests!!!! And I hate when I come down to the last question and I don’t know the answer. In fact I have a social studies test tomorrow and that’s probably going to happen to me.

    My friends Kate and Colbie have a really good memory if I ask them a question they will remember it from 3 WEEKS AGO!!!!!!!

    I do have a photoghraphic memory from when I was out in Vail, Colorado at winter break!!

    Today’s wonder was really cool!!!! ;) :) ;) :) ;) :)

    • Hi there, Wonder Friend Cate! We hope you do GREAT on your social studies test today! It sounds like your friends, Kate and Colbie, have great memory skills, too! Your trip to Vail sounds WONDERful, Cate! Thanks for sharing your awesome comment! :)

  22. I’m very impressed with Mr. Haraguchi’s ability to remember all of those numbers without having a photographic or eidetic memory! Just thinking about it makes my head hurt!! :)

    My guess is that tomorrow’s Wonder will be about behaving well!

    • It’s crazy to imagine memorizing all those numbers, Gavin! Phew! We are excited to find out what the next Wonder will be; thanks for visiting us, Wonder Friend! :)

    • A photographic memory is very cool to Wonder about, Maya! We’re glad you were surprised by this Wonder… we think it’s cool to imagine what we’d remember with a memory like that! :)

    • We are glad you shared your AWESOME comment, Amy! What a great connection you made from our memory Wonder! HOORAY for Wonder Friends! :)

  23. We can’t believe that anyone can memorize pi up to 100,000 decimal places! What a memory! We tried the online test and ran out of time. We plan to return to it as a class!

    • It’s an incredible talent, we sure do agree, Wonder Friends in Mrs. Stringer’s Class! :)

      We’re proud of you for trying your best on the online test! Phew, it’s a lot to memorize! :)

    • Hi, Wonder Friend Waad! We think having a photographic memory would come in handy from time to time– it would be like having a super power! Thanks for WONDERing with us today! :)

    • We’re sorry to hear that, Mary! We don’t like the feeling confused either. We bet you can better understand with the help of a teacher, parent or older sibling for this Wonder. Keep up the great work! :)

    • Not many people have photographic memories, Chrissy, so don’t you worry! We think it would be cool to remember things exactly as they are from time to time, but we still do a WONDERful job of using our imaginations, don’t we? :)

    • What a great Wonder, Chrissy! We bet you can talk to your family members and friends about falling in love or finding love in relationships! :)

  24. Hi wonderopolis, I just started in the site and I really like it. I just wonder a little bit why the question isn’t usually answered in the wonder.

    • Hi there, Wonder Friend! We’re so glad you’re here– welcome to Wonderopolis! We like to use our imaginations, and help our Wonder Friends think, learn and Wonder! Sometimes there isn’t one specific answer to a question– that’s the beauty of WONDERing! We certainly don’t want to confuse you, but we also want you to do some WONDERing of your own after visiting the site! :)

    • WOW Wonder Friend Luke! You are one lucky duck to have such a SUPER memory! Thanks for telling us all about your connection to this memorable Wonder! :)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • Do you have a photographic memory?
  • What is eidetic memory?
  • Who has memorized pi to the most decimal places?

Wonder Gallery

Photographic Memory61Vimeo Video

Try It Out

Think you might have a photographic memory? Put it to the test! Jump online to take a Photographic Memory Test. You’ll see two images in succession. Can you combine the two in your mind? If you can, you may have a photographic memory!

If not, don’t worry about it! You can always have fun challenging yourself with this fun online Photographic Memory Game. Play with your friends and family members to see who can get to the highest level!

Still Wondering

In ReadWriteThink’s The Mysteries of Memory: Memorization Techniques That Work lesson, children learn techniques that can aid in memorizing information, play online memory games and participate in a class memory game.

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