Training eidetic memory, aka short term visual memory

Some say that eidetic memory does not really exist, while others claim to have eidetic memory. Possibly they address different aspects of short-term visual memory. What I can do is explain how each of us can enjoy a small amount of eidetic memory which is available to each and every one of us. There are blog posts here and here that share similar insights.

What is eidetic memory?

eidetic memory

It is important to know about eidetic memory definition. When we see something for a short while, it generates a sort of photographic image in our mind. Now we can access this photography several seconds or more after the initial exposure and gather details we want to use. This “photography” is probably stronger and lasts longer when there is a lot of adrenaline in our blood, so if you could mindfully generate adrenaline rush you could control the eidetic memory much better. There are accounts of martial artists, savants and illusionists who can generate eidetic memory tests for long periods of time.
I personally had such an experience with one old illusionist, who looked at a picture for very little time and then described it in great detail several minutes later.

There is a way debated in literature of improving photographic memory via so-called “military method”. The person sits in a dark room and sees a short exposure of a scene of interest and then needs to describe the scene in great detail. With practice, the accuracy of details becomes larger and exposure time becomes shorter, until we can get a very detailed account from split-second exposure.

Savants probably get the eidetic memory via strong focus and synesthesia. Using more senses and getting more focus on specific senses probably enables utilization of more brain power to memorize images. Since savants are born this way, it is very hard to understand how they develop and use their skills.


Some schools of speedreading claim that people skilled in their techniques can read at speed above 10000 wpm, by memorizing the book eidetically and recalling the page of interest when being examined. Personally I can read 10000 wpm using visual flow, essentially small-scale eidetic memory, I have issues processing information above that speed.

When we read from our memory there is no delay due to saccadic eye movement, so we can theoretically read very fast. I cannot do this myself for more than a couple of paragraphs, essentially reading vertically and saccading once per section. I have seen people doing this trick with 1-pager, and it is very impressive. My uncle has eidetic memory, and he told me when he drives he can recall everybody and everything in the street several minutes after seeing them. This is something that he trained himself to do using the military method.

For our students we developed a specific exercise to build-up eidetic short-term memory. The training exercise to achieve this is very simple and we advertised throughout all of our courses. You see a screen with several letters for a very short period of time, and then you count the letters you have seen from your photographic memory. You can train this exercise for 10 minutes per day, and slowly your eidetic memory will improve.

We do not claim to teach you full photographic memory that lasts for hours, but we can provide you with limited eidetic memory training that you can use in your life. You do not need magic powers to do this, all you need is 10 minutes of practice per day.

Memory is essential for speedreading. Eidetic memory enables reading speeds of 1000wpm or faster. Check out speedreading masterclass  to increase speedreading. You do not have to pay the full price. Contact [email protected] and ask for a deep discount. Your satisfaction is guaranteed!

Eidetic memory in speedreading


One of the reasons I recommend training eidetic memory is speedreading. We start training the eidetic memory using the “military method” or tachistoscope as the first speedreading exercise, so that when prereading or skimming the page we can create a good representation of the text for the more detailed speedreading. The idea is observing specific symbols or keywords for split second and immediately recognizing them due to their imprint in the eidetic memory.

We are likely to encounter some keywords that immediately associate the text we read with the ideas we know and like. These associations facilitate comprehension, long-term memorization and creative use of the materials.

This part of eidetic memory should last about a minute and should not be very detailed. It is like understanding overall where we are on the map when we travel. Once we revisit already familiar places we notice nuances we are likely to miss originally.


The next exercise is more complex. Once we become intermediate in speedreading we move our eyes in saccading or jumpy motion according to three columns per line. When the eye saccades we temporarily do not see the text physically, yet this does not interfere with speedreading. Why? We use our eidetic memory as it is intended to be used by the forces of evolution.

For example when we run and close our eyes for a second we can complete the landscape around us from the visual memory, so we can continue running. When we see an analog film, after every frame we see a blank screen, yet we complete the image from the eidetic memory. In a similar fashion, when our eyes saccade we do not feel that we go blind for a split second. Constant saccading is hard for the eye muscles but not for the eidetic memory, since we do not have to hold the image for much longer than 200 msec. We get high resolution visualization for a very short time period.

Visual flow

To read faster than 2000 wpm, column saccading does not work very well. The jumpy eye motion is hard for the eye muscle, and the eyes get tired extremely fast. So we use a methodology I call visual flow. Instead of saccading along lines, we saccade along the page – from section to section. A section is around a paragraph or approximately 9 lines of text. What about the rest of the text? We still kind of saccade, but not with our bare eyes. Instead we scan the mental image of the text in the eidetic memory.

This visual flow method is very important for really fast speedreading, and yet it is very complex. First we need to have sufficiently trained peripheral vision to get an entire paragraph in one glance. Next we need to read sufficiently fast to read the entire paragraph from the mental image before the visualization fades away. And then we also need sufficiently trained eidetic memory to keep a detailed visualization long enough to read it. The benefit though is enormous since the eyes do not get tired with computer screens and we can read REALLY fast. I am not able to read 10000 wpm in any other way.


Frequently Asked Question

What is the difference between photographic memory vs eidetic memory


Photographic memory and eidetic memory are often used interchangeably, as different sides of the same skill. Photographic memory refers to an exceptional ability to recall and visualize details of past experiences or information. It involves the ability to retain images in one’s mind with great clarity, allowing for precise recall. On the other hand, eidetic memory refers to the ability to temporarily retain and vividly reproduce images or information after exposure, usually fading within a few minutes. In greek the word eidetikos means form, and it addresses the ability to recall form even when the form is occluded. While both types of memory involve visual recall, photographic memory is considered more subjective and detailed, so an advanced form of eidetic memory. 

How rare is eidetic memory?

When we address the ability to recall occluded shapes or visualize in great detail the things we focused on a second ago but no observe using peripheral memory – you know you can do it. Almost everybody can. And this is good enough for speedreading.

Preserving photographic image for 30 seconds is a rare skill, and it requires training or innate ability. A metaphor would be holding your breath. Everybody can hold breath for 20 seconds, but very few can hold for two minutes without specific training. Holding breath beyond two minutes, say for 20 minutes, is extremely rare. In a similar way, only a handful of people can hold detailed photograph imagery for more than 20 minutes, and many of these people are savants. 

Is flashbulb memory related to eidetic memory?

In times of great need we get a flashbulb memory. It is a permanent photographic image of something stressful that we simply cannot forget. This sort of memory is connected to PTSD and is guarding survivors from near death situations like some visual “never again” statement. Flashbulb memory is related with extreme emotional states, and usually cannot be activated and deactivated at will, except in some hypnotic state. There are accounts of people, like Shaolin monks,  who can at will increase adrenaline level causing reduced sensitivity to pain, high awareness and a sort of flashbulb memory. I do not have the relevant skill set.

Does eidetic memory mean high IQ?

Eidetic memory, often referred to as photographic memory, does not indicate high IQ. While individuals with eidetic memory can vividly recall visual information, intelligence encompasses various cognitive abilities. IQ is a measure of overall intellectual capacity, including problem-solving, reasoning, and comprehension skills. While some people with eidetic memory may have high IQs, intelligence involves a broader range of cognitive functions beyond mere memory recall.

How to develop eidetic memory

Eidetic memory is an evolutionary mechanism that helps us deal with temporary occlusion of objects, for example behind trees.

There are several approaches to developing eidetic memory.

  1. The so-called military method is used to remember a split second exposure for several seconds. We kind of practice it in speedreading.
  2. To prolong the eidetic memory to the level of around a minute, meditative techniques can be used. The idea is blocking temporarily sensory inputs, slowing down breathing and removing focus switches. 
  3. Beyond one minute, there is no clear recipe for eidetic memory. Painters working with reproducing urban landscapes from memory occasionally report photographic memory of 20 minutes. 
  4. Flushbulb memory associated with traumatic events is an extreme example of long-term eidetic memory which we usually try to avoid.

In any case, for most of us, there is very little incentive to develop eidetic memory beyond several seconds. 

Get 4 Free Sample Chapters of the Key To Study Book

Get access to advanced training, and a selection of free apps to train your reading speed and visual memory

You have Successfully Subscribed!

6 Replies to “Training eidetic memory, aka short term visual memory”

    1. I tried it for over two months but it did not work for me in any way. You can try to work on your memory with hypnosis and tell yourself that it is natural to remember everything or a great proportion you see/read. This is one way you can achieve similar results and also I am currently working on this one. You will find many ressouces on the internet regarding the dark-room-method but I found only one success story.

  1. I have actually tried this and i dont have great progress with it. Could you please give me some recommendations on how to approach it. Some flashes are very clear and sometimes the letters are blurry and in two weeks this overall did not change. I even switched to a document with big letters (36) but there is still no progress measurable.
    I am thankful for every answer.

    1. The whole eidetic memory training is a bit experimental. Here are some guidelines:
      1. Use columns that are not very wide (5-7 words) and matching font so you can see 3 lines without moving your eyes.
      2. Start with these ~20 words, only after you can memorize 20 words in the 20 words or 20 images exercise
      3. Do not use just texts. Start with images, like “find the difference” or detailed landscape. Try to recreate the images from your memory.
      4. Practice at least 3 times a day, at least 5 min each time
      5. Have patience. This takes time. If no progress in 2 months, contact me [email protected] and we will think what happened.

      1. Dear Goldentouch,

        thanks for your answer.
        I already use tipp 1, 2 and 3 and think of experimenting with 4 tomorrow.
        Have you accutally tried it and had success with it because the promised outcome is so sensational i dont understand why more have tried it. Would you please tell me how you came across this technique and could tell me about some success stories.

        Thanks for every answer.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.