I am one of the 100 people in the world who can remember the day we were born

By Caitlin Tilley, health reporter for Dailymail.Com

4:12 PM May 20, 2024, updated 4:19 PM May 20, 2024



Two women have revealed what it’s like to live with an incredible condition that has left them remembering what it was like to be a baby.

Emily Nash, 18, from Ottawa, Canada, is the youngest known person with a condition that gives her an incredible, photographic memory.

Her brain is “organized like a calendar,” as she puts it, and she has the ability to replay, rewind, and fast forward any significant experience or event.

She claims to vividly remember learning to walk and being chased around the house by her parents, just like them.

Becky Sharrock, 34, Australia’s only known case of HSAM, claims she remembers the day she was born and the “intense curiosity” she felt as a newborn.

Emily Nash, 18, from Canada, is the youngest person identified with High Superior Autobiographical Memory, or HSAM: the ability to accurately recall an exceptional number of experiences and the associated dates of events that occurred over a large portion of happened in someone’s life.
The family had no idea why she could remember things so well, and assumed she was simply blessed with an “excellent memory,” her mother said.
Mrs. Nash’s first memory is of her mother in her high chair as an infant

Very superior autobiographical memory, or HSAM, affects only about 100 people in the world.

The condition was only discovered in 2000 and remains poorly understood.

For most people, the brain only stores 50 percent of new information within an hour of learning it, continually freeing up storage space to create more room for new memories.

One theory is that in people with HSAM their The brain may not be able to determine and filter what information is unimportant, meaning it remembers almost everything, whether it is notable or not.

Ms Nash told 60 Minutes Australia: ‘My brain is organized almost like a calendar. Each date specifically resembles a movie where I can repeat, rewind, and fast forward. And the more I delve into a specific day, the more vivid and the more details I can extract from that day.’

“It’s almost like a reliving, like I was there just a few seconds ago,” she added.

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The condition applies not only to experiences, but also to facts. Ms. Nash’s parents, Julie and Jason, nicknamed their daughter Wikipedia because of the vast amount of trivia knowledge she can remember.

The family had no idea why she could remember things so well and assumed she was blessed with an “excellent memory,” her mother said.

Mrs. Nash’s first memory is of her mother in her high chair as an infant. She claims she remembers learning to walk.

“I remember my parents started chasing me around the house because I was so excited to learn to walk and it turned into a run.

“I think I even learned those two things on the same day,” she recalled.

It wasn’t until she was formally tested at the age of 17 by Dr. Carmen Westerberg, professor of psychology bee Texas State Universitythat they realized the full extent of her abilities.

Her mother, Julie, said the family is now focusing on making happy memories because Mrs. Nash will remember everything.

“From the moment I found out, I had to change my parenting in terms of, this will be a lasting memory,” her mother said. “So we sweat a little less about the little things.”

Ms Nash said it can be difficult to remember every promise her parents and friends have made, but she has learned to forgive them and tries not to hold grudges.

Rebecca Sharrock, 34, is the only famous person in Australia with HSAM, which allows her to recall all her memories

Ms Nash has volunteered for science and researchers are studying her brain to hopefully find a cure for debilitating memory loss conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s.

They will try to understand what exactly is happening and what is going right in Ms. Nash’s brain, so they may be able to figure out what is going wrong in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease.

“Knowing that I can help with my memory is a very rewarding experience,” Ms Nash said.

She is partly motivated by seeing two of her grandparents suffer from dementia.

Later this year she will go to university to study science and memory herself.

Sleep studies in which she has already participated have shown that it is not that Ms. Nash absorbs or learns more information than anyone else, but that she simply does not forget it.

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“While she sleeps, her brain stores it more efficiently than other people,” says Dr. Westerberg, who worked on the studies.

“The why is still a big mystery,” she added.

Like Ms. Nash, Ms. Sharrock said she “remembers pretty much every second of every day.”

“I remember at least 95 percent of the time.”

When she was younger, she said she was “so smart that it would embarrass me a little as a kid.”

Mrs Sharrock even claims she remembers the exact day she was born.

“I have a memory that I assume was my birth. I found myself just wrapped in a blanket and having my ankle cut off with a tag.

“Of course, that can’t be proven 100 percent for skeptics,” she said.

‘I had an intense curiosity. As a baby I didn’t know the word curiosity, but I wanted to know everything about everything. I was probably about 5,000 percent more curious than I am now.”

Ms Sharrock also has autism, which heightens the sense of chaos that comes with being able to remember everything.

“I often get distracted by random flashbacks that pop into my mind, but they just come involuntarily,” she said.

When Mrs Sharrock was younger, she said she was ‘so smart it would embarrass me a bit as a child’
“I have a memory that I assume was my birth. I found myself just wrapped in a blanket and having my ankle cut off with a tag. “Of course that can’t be proven 100 percent for skeptics,” Ms Sharrock said

There are days she would like to forget, she said.

‘I have moments of self-pity where I think to myself: why do I have to have this memory disorder, why can’t I just forget certain things. It’s a curse to have.”

Research has found that, compared to normal people, people with the condition have a disruption in connectivity between the hippocampus – a part of the brain that plays a key role in learning and memory – and multiple networks used in sensing of salience – which decides which information is important – while participants were in a resting state.

This means people with HSAM may not be able to determine what information does not need to be stored, meaning they remember almost everything.

Some researchers have suggested that HSAM may be a special form of OCD because there are similarities between the structure of their brains and that of OCD patients.

Both have an enlarged caudate – which is involved in processes such as procedural learning.

There is a link between autobiographical memory and autism, because the sensory experience of some people with autism helps events become deeply entrenched in their memory.

Some people with autism also have a memory that is photographic or nearly photographic.

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