In this YouTube video by The Blaze it is claimed that Ted Cruz has "audiographic" memory. He does seem to have quite a good memory based on videos I've seen of him, but I'm not sure if Glenn Beck is exaggerating and I can't find the Wall Street Journal article he's referring to.

I know about eidetic memory (photographic memory):

... is an ability to vividly recall images from memory after only a few instances of exposure, with high precision for a brief time after exposure, without using a mnemonic device.

Is there something similar for audio exposures and recall? Audiographic memory does not seem an academic term. Is this phenomenon discussed in academia?

  • The term audiographic memory is not an actual word. The correct terminology is Eidetic memory (for visual triggers) and Echoic memory is the sensory memory register specific to auditory information (sounds). This can refer to any and all sound associated memory triggers (auditory stimuli). It is speculated that Cruz may have a (high performance) autism, which makes his echoic memory a highly reliable functioning tool. – k.rodmann Oct 24 at 9:04

I have been doing some research and this is what I found so far.

First, the memory of sounds is called echoic memory (Alley Dog; Echoic Memory Definition) and is a form of sensory memory. This means that by nature, it is short-term.

However, I found an interesting wikipedia article, followed the source, and found that, in fact, it appears that eidetic memory also includes remembering sounds! (Taylor; Encyclopedia of Human Memory; Superior Autobiographical Memory; p.1099).
So it could be that there isn't a term for it because it is included in this.

When it comes to 'audiographic memory', a thorough search leads me to thinking that indeed, it's not an academic term and is not researched or discussed as such. The only things I can find that use that word are of questionable validity (ex: Bates, Unconscious Processes, 2009).

For some reason, the video link does not work for me, but I hope that this information makes things clearer for you!

Other sources:
-Wikipedia Page; Echoic Memory
-Wikipedia Page; Eidetic Memory

As mentioned before the correct terminology for "audiographic" memory is Echoic, however, "audiographic" isn't a bad term. This is because for auditory sensory input to be stored as long-term memories, the information must be visualized.

A simple way to demonstrate is this goes as follows...
Set a reminder for five minutes and make a sound. When the reminder goes off try to recall the sound.

If you are to do this, you'll find that the sound that you recall is almost hollow in a sense. You'll know that you heard the sound, but you won't be recalling the actual sound, you're recalling the idea of it. In other words, your brain, knowing you heard a sound will "jot it down" and later when it's asked what it heard it will "expand" the idea of audio out into your memory of sound.

When it comes to Ted Cruz's case, it still appears he remembering the idea of the sound and the sound itself. I got that from the mention of transcripts. Ted is just remembering the ideas conveyed by the sound of speech with a high degree of accuracy.

The degree of accuracy Ted is able to accomplish while recalling conversations is due to a technique that is well known as "Memory Palaces". This is also known as The Method of Loci (link at the bottom). What is happening is Ted is memorizing the conversations by visualizing the conversation as a transcript and filing it away to be recalled later. I assume that this happens naturally for him, but you can train yourself to be able to do this.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Method_of_loci

  • Welcome to the Psych & Neuroscience SE! It would be helpful to add references for the concept of echoic memory, so that the question-asker and other readers have an idea of your technical perspective and know where to find more information, as well. – Krysta Nov 21 at 15:55

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