The term hyperthymestic syndrome was proposed by James L. McGaugh, a neurobiologist at the University of California, Irvine, and his colleagues, following their case study of the woman known as A.J. (The study was published in the journal Neurocase, and is available as a PDF; there’s also this story on NPR.)
Now in her mid-40s, A.J. contacted the researchers, telling them about her “non-stop, uncontrollable and totally exhausting” autobiographical memory. While researchers have been fortunate enough to study a number of amnesic patients (see, for example, the case of H.M.) A.J. was, until recently, the only confirmed case of hyperthymesia.
But since last summer, McGaugh has been working with another individual with a superior autobiographical memory. Brad Williams is a 51-year old radio news anchor from La Crosse, Wisconsin. Like AJ, Williams can recall, with remarkable accuracy and reliability, the personal events that occurred on any day in his past. But unlike others with superior memory, Williams (and A.J.) do not use practised mnemonics to store such vast amounts of information.
Williams is the subject of a forthcoming documentary called Unforgettable. You can watch the trailer below.