What is Hypermnesia: definition of absolute memory
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What is Hypermnesia: definition of absolute memory

Hypermnesia is a syndrome characterized by exceptional memory. Autobiographical hypermnesia or hyperthymesia, rare, engenders the ability to very precisely and effortlessly remember every day of one’s life from a specific moment in one’s childhood. 

The causes of hypermnesia remain uncertain but recent research demonstrates the presence of abnormally reinforced connections in certain regions of the brain of people suffering from this syndrome.

What is hypermnesia?

Definition of hypermnesia

Hypermnesia is a syndrome characterized by exceptional memory, due to intense activity of certain areas of the brain.

Types of hypermnesias

There are different types of hypermnesia:

  • Autobiographical hypermnesia or hyperthymesia – from the Greek  thymesis, to remember: this type of hypermnesia engenders the exceptional ability to remember very precisely and effortlessly every day of one’s life from a specific moment in one’s childhood;
  • Late paroxysmal emotional hypermnesia or post-traumatic stress disorder: a traumatic scene from a patient’s life resurfaces and is relived as if it were unfolding live in front of them;
  • A particular hypermnesia also affects some people with an autism spectrum disorder who can memorize very precisely almost the entirety of a book or a scene in its smallest details.

Causes of hypermnesia

The causes of hypermnesia remain uncertain. Recent research nevertheless shows that it probably results from abnormally reinforced connections in certain regions of the brain, such as the amygdala and the hippocampus. But researchers are still wondering about the origin of these neurofunctional differences, which could just as well be the consequence of hypermnesia and not its cause.

Diagnosis of hypermnesia

Magnetic resonance imaging makes it possible to observe the different cerebral structures and their possible overdevelopments.

People affected by hypermnesia

Only a few dozen people in the world today are diagnosed with hyperthymesia.

Factors favoring hypermnesia

A traumatic scene experienced can cause late paroxysmal emotional hypermnesia.

Symptoms of Hypermnesia

Autobiographical memory

Hyperthymesia engenders the ability to very precisely and effortlessly remember every day of one’s life from a specific moment in one’s childhood. Listening to date, the hyperthymesia remembers D-Day perfectly and all the personal events that marked this day. This highly superior autobiographical memory turns out to become a real burden on the brain.

obsession with memories

People suffering from hyperthymesia often present in parallel with symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD): like the compulsive accumulation of objects, they accumulate memories. They also have an irrepressible need to organize their environment.

Neurosis

Symptoms of late paroxysmal emotional hypermnesia or post-traumatic stress disorder are affective and emotional. Many former deportees from Nazi camps suffer from this syndrome.

Other symptoms

  • Aggressiveness;
  • Anguish ;
  • Paranoia;
  • Frigidity;
  • Recurring nightmares.

Hypermnesia Treatments

Apart from psychological support, there is currently no treatment for hypermnesia.

Prevent hypermnesia

There is no way to prevent hypermnesia.

Image Credit: Image by jcomp on Freepik

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