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.