By Angie Argabrite, Monday, January 9, 2012, at 9:01 am.
Memory has factored heavily into past criminal convictions, but courts are setting new rules to ensure that witness testimony—no matter how clearly we may think we’ve seen and remember a crime—be viewed more like trace evidence rather than the prosecution’s pièce de résistance. There is a handful of people in the world who have what is called “highly superior autobiographical memory” (HSAM), but don’t envy them. Those with this mega-memory function can recall in detail what happened during most every day of their lives, but they’re also more prone to OCD-like behaviors such as hoarding and germophobia and can relive the worst days of their lives as vividly as the best. In other memory news, a study from the University of California at Berkeley reveals that during the dream phase of sleep our memories are reactivated and put into perspective; though, unfortunately, a good night’s sleep was found to do little for the memories of older adults. Scientists are perpetually on the hunt for tricks to fortify memory—whether it be the addition of fish into the diet of an Alzheimer’s patient or the discovery that people who’ve recently exercised fare better on memory tests. Both a blessing and a curse, the human memory continues to mesmerize; but not, apparently, enough to garner ratings, as the freshman CBS series “Unforgettable” demonstrates. The crime procedural, centered on an attractive investigator with HSAM, started its season strong but has seen dwindling viewership. Guess it’s fairly forgettable, after all.