Saturday, 29 September 2012

Aurelien Hayman: The Boy who Remembers His Past.

 Aurelien Hayman studies English literature at the Durham University in the UK. He may seem like a regular 20-year-old, but this remarkable young man can recall every moment of every day of his life.

Aurelien is one of just 20 people in the world displaying superior autobiographical memory, or hyperthymesia. He is also the only one of those people that lives in Great Britain.

He doesn't claim to remember every single day of his life. Describing his astonishing gift, he says he couldn't recall details about his life the way he does today, until he was about 14 years old. He describes his childhood memories, up to the age of 11, as “vague recollections.”

“It’s not something that I realized overnight, but when I was 14 I discovered that I was quite good at remembering some things that had happened years before,” he said in an interview with the Daily Mail.

His parents are intellectuals, but they do not share this ability. It is not likely it is inherited as, in previously documented cases, those displaying hyperthymesia had children who didn't have the same abilities.

Professor Giuliana Mazzoni, head of psychology at Hull University, put Aurelien through a series of tests to determine the accuracy of his renditions of certain events.

When she asked him about events that happened on a specific date, she observed the boy would recall details like what conversations he had had, what had been on the news, what he had eaten that day, what he had been wearing, and what the weather had been like etc. Hayman always started by telling her what day of the week the date given to him was.

His renditions of the chains of events, on dates spanning over the last decade, proved to be not only accurate, but quite objective. Most of us remember things like what was on TV, or what the weather was like, in cases in which something marked that specific occasion. For example, one might remember what channel they were watching or what they were wearing when finding out about the attacks on 9/11.


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