Oftentimes, photographic memory is compared to eidetic, because signals registered by our brain can come both through an eye retina (visual perception) as well as from the brain itself (imaginative perception). When speaking of photographic memory, people normally are referring to remaining impulses, for a coherent bright image can actually be preserved for a few minutes on a retina. Unfortunately, this phenomenon applies only to simple and large figures. For example, a person can vividly see (like a photograph) two to three largely-drawn digits.
When it comes to more complex images or even pages with text, this phenomenon is not possible due to the physiology of an eye. An eye perceives information only when it (the eye) is moving, and not in the way you might think. It is always moving, making a lot of micro-movements (micro tremor) while scanning objects. When an eye stops moving (under the influence of a relaxant, for instance), then it goes blind. This can be found in just about any physiology book.
The thing is that, even when an image of a text is preserved on an eye’s retina, we still have to move our eyes to read it which, in turn, makes photographic memory impossible, since the text will move along with our eyes. Therefore, the ability to view a page with a text in your mind while trying to read it is no more than a fairy tale.
On the other hand, though, with the use of GMS or classic mnemonics, it is possible to memorize texts, charts, phone numbers, etc. and reproduce them with the kind of precision that will lead some to believe you are reading straight from pages you are seeing in your mind. In my opinion, it is that type of demonstration that created the myth of photographic memory.
When an image lands on the retina of an eye, it does not just disappear thereafter. Our brain continues to see the perceived image for some time. Still, this happens only if the picture is not “blocked" by something else. If you disguise the picture you saw with another picture or even with 20 different pictures imposed on each other, the effect of consecutive images will not be achieved.
Therefore, the so-called inertness of the visual analyzer (also called iconic or sensory memory) is relative. Strictly speaking, the visual system is not inert but quite mobile. The illusion of inertness appears only in cases when perceived pictures are not blocked by something else.
To test this, you will need a pocket flashlight and a dark room - for example, a bathroom in your house or apartment.
Take your flashlight and enter the bathroom. Turn off the light. Give your eyes about five minutes to adjust to the darkness.
Lift your hand to your eye level and hold it with your palm facing you about 15" away.
Take the flashlight in your other hand and point at the palm.
To prepare for the experiment, your eyes should be directed on the palm. In order to see the consecutive image, it is necessary to fix your eyes on one object. Get ready, and do not move your eyes.
For a short time (one second is enough) light your palm with the flashlight. Lower the palm and continue to fix your eyes at the point where your palm was initially.
In two to three seconds, the consecutive imaging will start "to appear." You will see your hand hanging before your eyes. You will also see a part of the bathroom. The consecutive image will be the same as with a photo laboratory when it is lit by the dim light of the photo lantern.
If you do not move your eyes, the consecutive image will stay for about five seconds and then gradually disappear. If you try to register details of the bathroom, the consecutive image will disappear once you start moving your eyes.
1. The consecutive image appears not at once, but seconds after the light reaches the retina of an eye.
2. The consecutive image is seen for some seconds and then gradually fades away.
3. If your eyes move after the lighting of the flashlight, the consecutive image will be indistinct and will quickly disappear.
4. The consecutive image moves along with your eyes. This means that the picture you continue to see (after the flashlight is off) is actually in the retina of your eyes. If the consecutive image was a product of your brain, it would not move together with your eyes.
5. Excited by the photons of light, your eye receptors continue to generate electrical impulses for a short time; this is what causes the effect of the consecutive image.
6. The consecutive image is not kept in the brain and cannot be reproduced again after it has disappeared.
The above described phenomenon in psychology is referred to as sensory or iconic memory. Paying attention is a question of physiological memory. Therefore, you should not confuse the iconic memory with the ability to remember and retrieve information for subsequent use.
Consecutive Images and Text
In this experiment, you will see that consecutive images cannot be used for instant memorization of a text. It is impossible to read information contained in a text from the consecutive image.
For this experiment, you will need a book and a flashlight. A flash bulb from a camera will do.
Attention! You do not need to do more than two or three experiments with the flashlight.
Open a book to any page with text. Take the book in your left hand and hold it with the text before your eyes at an arms' length. Fix your eyes in the middle of a page. Take the flashlight in your right hand and hold it by your right ear, pointing it directly to a page with text.
Turn the flashlight on. After exposing your retinas to the light, close your eyes and try not to move your eyeballs.
In two to three seconds, you will see the consecutive image. If you do not move your eyes, the vision of the page will remain for a few seconds. If you move your eyes, the consecutive image will collapse.
Note that you will only see the general view of the page - maybe large letters (the heading). Instead of the text, you will only see its location. It will be impossible to actually read it.
Even if the consecutive image was so precise that it would allow you to see the small print, you would still not be able to read it. The reason is that, in order to read the text, you would have to move your eyes - but the text would move along with your eyes since the "picture" is in your eye retina.
- The consecutive image does not keep small details of the perceived image. If the small details were kept (the letters of the text), it would still be impossible to read them, since the image would move along with your eyes; thus, the consecutive image would collapse.
- The so-called photographic memory is impossible. It is impossible to look at a page with text, close your eyes, and then read it off the registered image.
If your friends say that they have a photographic memory, test them. If they can really read a page of the text that was perceived for one or two seconds, you must write to the author of this website. I have been trying to find someone with such ability for some time, but have yet to succeed in my search.
We do not teach Photographic Memory, and we showed you why not. We teach Phenomenal Memory - it is quite different. Phenomenal Memory is a skill of memorization… and mastery of it is just 60 lessons away! Just think about it. All you need to do is complete 60 lessons of our course and your life will be completely different. What are you waiting for? Memory is a basis for every wisdom and skill!
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