Talking Memory With
Star Of Film And Screen Who Made Her First Mark On Taxi Talks About The Benefits Of Having A Great Memory And Her Own Seemingly Magical Talents
Marilu Henner. Image by Jeff Katz and used under a Creative Commons License.
By Joey Hancock
Special for Modern Times Magazine
March 5, 2013 — In today's fast paced world, it is easy to forget small moments that make up an average day, but this doesn’t have to be the case according to actress, and best selling author Marilu Henner.
Henner is one of a handful of people in the world who have an extraordinary ability, known as Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory (HSAM), to remember everything, everyday, going back to their childhood. Henner is now helping people reach their full memory potential through her book Total Memory Makeover, out in hardcover and coming to paperback in May.
Henner believes everyone has the potential to maximize their memory by training one’s mind to pick up on events that happen throughout a day by using their key memory senses.
“Everyone has a primary track in which they have embedded their memories,” says Henner. “I always say play to your strengths. Relate other experiences to memories that are already there.”
By relating experiences to the memories, a person can make a snapshot of that experience which stores in the brain. The key to remembering is finding your dominant sense.
“Once you find yours you can work with that, and when you play to your strengths it works better,” said Henner.
People use all of their senses to remember. The key is to figure out what is your dominant sense. For instance if your dominant sense is visual, Henner suggests taking a snapshot of your day and pick out the moments you want to remember. For sound oriented people, close your eyes and think about the sounds you heard throughout the day.
Henner also spoke about how people today who are constantly checking their phones adds to the flurry of the day and assists in not remembering as much as one can.
There are many theories on how to make one’s memory better. In 2010, 60 Minutes aired a story on HSAMers. Henner, along with four others, were submitted to four days of testing and scans in order for doctors to officially determine if these people had HSAM.
One of the doctors conducting the study, Dr. Larry Cahill, a professor of Neurobiology, and Biological Sciences at the University of California, discussed cluttered minds and said in the 60 Minutes interview, “A little forgetting is needed to help you subtract and generalize.”
This seems like a logical theory. One must replace insignificant memories with ones that matter, but Henner strongly disagrees with this idea.
“I totally disagree with forgetting is essential. Clutter is still there. These small memories can contain other memories and help reinforce those memories,” said Henner.
In Henner’s book she discusses how a person with a normal memory can use these cluttered memories and help to bring out the memories that a person doesn’t want to forget.
Famous psychologist William James, once said, “If we remembered everything we should on most occasions be as ill off as if we remembered nothing.”
Henner and the other handful of HSAMers prove that this statement just isn’t true and the more memories we have the better off we are even if those memories are bad ones.
“You don’t want to avoid bad experiences. They make up your life. Your memory is your story,” said Henner.
Other than the amazing answers you can get by asking one of these people what they did on a certain day dating back decades, there is a lot of real science, and doctors are hopeful to better understand the ability in order to help in other areas of mental problems like Alzheimer’s.
At the end of the 60 Minutes broadcast, Dr. Cahill posed some very intriguing questions that doctors in the field of memory are seeking answers to.
“As you watch these remarkable people and as you think back on my three children how little they can actually remember when they were 4, 5, 6. You start to wonder why are we the default state? Why are we normal and why they’re the unusual ones? Why didn’t we evolve such that most of us are like them and we are the unusual ones who can hardly remember anything? It just makes you wonder.”
Along with teaching classes on tapping into your memory at www.Marilu.com, Henner is very busy writing a new book, working on her one woman show, consulting on the CBS drama, Unforgettable starting again in July.
Henner is also starring in this season’s Celebrity Apprentice, which started March 4 on NBC.
Speaking about Celebrity Apprentice Henner said, “It’s going to be great fun. We make a lot of money for charity. The game was fast moving and it was a blast.”
This season Henner is playing for The Alzheimer’s Association and all money she wins on the show will be donated to the organization.
Joey Hancock is a freelance writer living in Sierra Vista, Ariz.
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