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She can remember more than you

MEMORIES%0AAbigail+Willems%2C+Bay+Port+senior%2C+left+%28with+Olivia+LaBine+Gellerup%2C+right%29+discovered+that+she+had+eidetic+memory+when+she+was+a+child.+Photo+by+K.+Greene
MEMORIES
Abigail Willems, Bay Port senior, left (with Olivia LaBine Gellerup, right) discovered that she had eidetic memory when she was a child. Photo by K. Greene

MEMORIES Abigail Willems, Bay Port senior, left (with Olivia LaBine Gellerup, right) discovered that she had eidetic memory when she was a child. Photo by K. Greene

MEMORIES Abigail Willems, Bay Port senior, left (with Olivia LaBine Gellerup, right) discovered that she had eidetic memory when she was a child. Photo by K. Greene

Taylor Arbour

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Bay Port senior Abbie Willems has a rare talent, one that many people do not know about; she has an eidetic memory, often called a photographic memory, which allows her to remember and visualize information she has read.

An eidetic memory is described as the ability to recall information stored as images after a small amount of exposure and can be used interchangeably with photographic memory. This ability is almost nonexistent in adults and is typically found in school-age children. Abbie realized she possessed this quality in fifth grade, but from a young age she knew something set her apart from her peers.

“I started to get really good at memorizing pages of books and when I would take test I could just see it,” Abbie said. “I kinda knew that I was special because not a lot of people could remember that much.”

Courtney Tilkens, Abbie’s cousin, remembers when they first found out about Abbie’s memory because she had been accused of cheating.  

One common misconception is that she can look as something and instantly have it memorized. That’s not how it works, Abbie explained. She would need to read it a few times beforehand then she would be able to picture the information almost as a snapshot. There are limitations to it as well; these mental images begin to fade after time and she is not able to recall something if she hasn’t looked at it recently.

That is not to say that there are not advantages. Being able to memorize information in a short amount of time without taking the time to commit it to memory like most students gives Abbie a leg up in school. If given a page to memorize, she would be able to remember everything after reading it over only a few times.

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