Local Woman Can Never Forgive and “Forget”
SALISBURY, Md- Alexandra Wolff can apparently recall her experiences from any random date, like January 3rd 2004.
Wolff says, “It was a Saturday, it was warmer out that day, about 65 degrees.”
We checked those details on the Internet and they were right. However, not just that one time, but four different dates, given to her on the spot, like June 2nd 1998.
Wolff continues, “It was a Tuesday, it was almost the end of the school year, I was getting ready to graduate first grade, I didn't go to school that day I had a stomach ache.”
Alexandra was diagnosed last year with highly superior autobiographical memory, better known as “H-SAM.” In layman's terms, this means she can remember every experience she's ever had, since she was three- years old.
University of California Irvine neurobiology professor Craig Stark says, “Somehow while we forget pretty rapidly so that by a month we're not retrieving anything, these 'H-SAM' individuals forget very very slowly.”
Alexandra is one of just 33 people confirmed to have this rare memory ability by the University of California Irvine, which is now studying H-SAM. It appears researchers are finding that this superior ability to “remember,” is not necessarily the gift one might expect it to be.
Stark says, “This can be a burden because when you remember all of those affronts, fights, so that whenever you see someone you think of those things, that's a difficult thing psychologically to deal with.”
This is a struggle Alexandra feels everyday.
Wolf says, “For example my father died in February of 2010 so his death always stays fresh in my memory all the time.”
She says it's difficult to concentrate on the present because her mind is constantly living in the distant, and even short term past. At the beginning our interview we asked Alexandra to read a line from the newspaper. At the end of our 30 minute conversation, she remembered exactly what the paper said.
Wolff replies, “Bradley Cooper was already planning his spring wardrobe, he was in the front seat at fashion week on Monday.”
It's an astonishing ability, but the question is considering the burden of memories, does Alexandra want to forget? She says “no,” but she says her hope is that through research scientists will find a way to help suppress the difficult memories which prevent her from living in the now