Give him any date and Brad Williams can start a stream of details about what happened on that day in his life. Asked what happened on August 18, 1965, when he was 8 years old, the 51-year-old Brad recalled it was a Wednesday and he was with his family when they stopped at Red Barn Hamburger during a road trip through Michigan; he had a hamburger; they stayed at a motel that night in Clare, Michigan. It seemed more like a cabin.
Name a date from the last 40 years and, after a few moments, he can typically tell you what he did that day and what was in the news.
When asked about November 7, 1991, as a test, he said “Let’s see. That would be around when Magic Johnson announced he had HIV. Yes, a Thursday. There was a big snowstorm here the week before.” The interviewer asked him about 20 other dates associated with historical events. He recalled all the events on those dates, including the birth of the first test-tube baby in 1978, the toxic-gas leak in Bhopal, India, in 1984, and Billie Jean King’s victory over Bobby Riggs in tennis’ “Battle of the Sexes” in 1973.
“I’ve always been this way,” Williams said. “Growing up, I never really had reason to think I wasn’t like everyone else.”
Dr. James McGaugh, research neurobiologist at the University of California, studied Williams. When asked how he does it, McGaugh replied,
“You want the Nobel Prize right now? Tell me that answer and I’ll publish it. We don’t know. We do know that he carries this information with him, that it’s detailed, that it’s just there. That’s what we want to know — why is it there?”
The implied question is "Why is the memory in the brain?" As long as researchers keep asking that question, they won't find an explanation. The phenomenon exists because memories aren't confined to the brain.
- Scientists study man's amazing memory. (2008, February 22). MSNBC. Retrieved February 23, 2008, from http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23296808/.