There are people with supermemories, called highly superior autobiographical memory (HSAM), i.e., the detailed recollection of events that occurred in the distant past. Although the recollection of, say the weather on this day 15 years ago may not be entirely accurate (errors occur) and may contain gaps (maybe an hour of sunshine on a predominantly rainy day is not recollected), their memories are clearly superior nonetheless.

I have heard these statements that all memories are stored in the brain and that the reason why we forget is because those memories are simply not accessible anymore. This would metaphorically be like the workings of a hard drive, where deletion of a file removes the flag, but the information is physically still stored, it is just invisible to the user and difficult to access. Following this reasoning, everyone would have HSAM in a way, barred that normally the memories can't readily be accessed.

Hypnosis seems to be capable of enhancing the recollection of memories in people without HSAM, and hence hypnosis is said to improve memory, indirectly indicating that memory storage indeed may generally be higher than apparent in everyday life, but that the brain needs a hand in retrieving those memories.

My question is:

  • Are all conscious1 memories stored, but access is permitted only when its regularly accessed, or enhanced through hypnosis or other means? In other words, does everyone have super memory like HSAM, but do people without HSAM simply lack an efficient way to access those distant memories?

1 With all conscious memories I mean memories of life events that were experienced while being awake and vigilant. For the sake of question focus, I suggest disregarding life events occurring during sleep, coma, anesthesia or other periods of reduced consciousness.


2 Answers 2


This question can be addressed in many ways. One approach that we have taken is to test memory for what has just recently happened a few seconds ago. In these experiments we ask people to find a target in a simple visual search, and report its location. For example we might show them 3 numbers and one letter and ask them to report the location of the letter. After several minutes of doing this task, we give them a surprise question in which we ask them to tell us the actual letter that they had just located in the most recent trial (which they saw just a few seconds ago). What we find is that it is easy to find situations in which our participants have very little memory of that letter. What is interesting about this is that they had just located the letter by virtue of the fact that it was a letter. We presume, therefore, that the letter had briefly entered their awareness. This can be debated, if one assumes that one can search for letters without actually experiencing the letters. However we also found the same result with digit-parity tasks (i.e. find the odd number among evens or vice versa).

We called this effect attribute amnesia, since people seem to have amnesia for a specific attribute of a stimulus they had just selected.

So while there are lots of ways to interpret this finding, the clearest result seems to be that performing a mental operation that selects a piece of visual information can leave a memory trace so weak that it cannot be remembered just a few seconds later. Our interpretation is that the memory was never created in the first place. We believe that the brain has filters on memory encoding that allow us to process information without remembering it. It is also possible that it was encoded into memory and immediately forgotten but we do not favor this view as it seems less parsimonious than the filter that prevents encoding in the first place.

Here are some articles on this phenomenon: Chen, H., & Wyble, B. (2015). Amnesia for object attributes: Failure to report attended information that had just reached conscious awareness. Psychological science, 26(2), 203-210.

Chen, H., Swan, G., & Wyble, B. (2016). Prolonged focal attention without binding: Tracking a ball for half a minute without remembering its color. Cognition, 147, 144-148.

Chen, H., & Wyble, B. (2016). Attribute amnesia reflects a lack of memory consolidation for attended information. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 42(2), 225.

Here are some freely-available pre-prints of related articles if you cannot access the ones above: https://psyarxiv.com/gbdcr/ https://psyarxiv.com/87yg2/

I apologize that not all of our work is available on preprint servers yet. I'd be happy to email copies of published articles if you email me at [email protected]


This may seem far fetched at first. Give the concepts given below some time. Do your research and experiments first before disregarding the information below. In other words: You might need to put in a little effort/work for the information below to mean anything to you.

Thomas Campbell his Theory Of Everything (TOE) has a view on this. He says you can focus your intent to get any information you desire. He compares a clear focussed intent with a proper database query. You then need to be open to receive the outcome, and not distort it with your analytical mind, at first. He has several video's where he guides you through remote viewing what is inside boxes. I was stunned to experience accuracies in my perception, over multiple times, which has proven this mechanism to work (for me) without a doubt.

These are slides of one of his presentations. You can view the presentations on youtube. Search for "Remote Viewing by intent". http://www.my-big-toe.com/uploads/HawaiiSlides.pdf

What he mentions in his book (http://www.intradimensions.net/mybigtoe.pdf) is that your brain is the interface, but not the storage location.

I see a relation here with recollecting past memories. They might well be those intent based queries. You can get better with practise on the mechanism to query, retreive and interpret the information. Whether it are 'your' memories or other information from a past event.

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    $\begingroup$ This is a scientific site. I quickly looked for existing publications of Thomas Campbell, and could find none. In other words, none of his work has been peer reviewed, nor proven. Given that, I'm not sure a philosophical answer constitutes as an answer here. $\endgroup$
    – Steven Jeuris
    Sep 1, 2015 at 16:47
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    $\begingroup$ @StevenJeuris He is scientist who worked for NASA and military. The first who proposed the earth was a globe was lit on fire. Your loss if you disregard the info given above based on the mere fact that all pioneers simply don't have peers to review it. Scientist only think objectively, while what Tom describes is about subjective experience. How can I prove to you that I am conscious while dreaming and asked a person a question who teaches me life lessons? That's simply not done objectively. Your loss... $\endgroup$ Sep 1, 2015 at 17:28
  • $\begingroup$ And BTW. The CIA has made a protocol on remote viewing to train their agents. There is lots of evidence those things are reality. If you open up to it you will experience it yourself. That will be your scientific proof. $\endgroup$ Sep 1, 2015 at 17:32
  • $\begingroup$ @MikedeKlerk I'm with you, but you're wasting your time. Unfortunately it's not mainstream science, so you can't do much, so all Paranormal topics are censored here. A scientific theory must be testable or refutable predictions of what should happen or be seen. All NASA/CIA did some confidential projects, but actually nothing has been officially proven. And some former guys doesn't have any power. So I guess that kind of discoveries needs to come out of the academies to be real. Meanwhile they're just treated as pseudoscience. $\endgroup$
    – kenorb
    Sep 2, 2015 at 14:32
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    $\begingroup$ How come the higgs boson was already (theoretical) science when its existence wasn't proven? Logical derivations required it to exist. Decades later it was proven with the LHC. With Campbells My Big TOE it is the same. He uses logical derivations, supported by his experiments (and he did experiments the scientific way). Let me ask this: what is the common accepted explanation for the double slit experiment? Look up Tom's explanation for the double slit experiment, it makes more sense. youtube.com/watch?v=LW6Mq352f0E He is a scientist. $\endgroup$ Sep 3, 2015 at 5:50

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