I’ve made occasional references to a certain “Project X” over the past fourteen months, promising you that I would share more about it when the time was right. Well, the time has come, and I have some big news. I would like to invite all of you to tune into "60 Minutes" on CBS this Sunday evening, December 19th. I will be featured in a two-part story about people with an extraordinarily rare memory condition classified as Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory.
Some of you know about my unusual memory that causes me to remember every day of my life with intense clarity. For example, if you ask me about a random date from 1985 onward, I know what day of the week it was and what I did on that day, what the weather was like, possibly what happened in the news, etc. I have written on Kitchen Fiddler about some of my culinary time-travel experiences where my awareness of the current date—and the memories of what happened on that day in any given year—is the actual trigger itself for some very insistent cravings based on meals I’ve had in the past on that particular date.
For the past year I've been involved with memory studies at University of California, Irvine at their Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory. I've been working with Dr. James McGaugh and Dr. Larry Cahill, the neuroscientists who are the first to ever study this extreme autobiographical memory condition. I'm thrilled to be part of this unusual research that is writing a brand-new chapter in the field of memory studies.
I am one of five subjects—along with Brad Williams, Rick Baron, Bob Petrella, and Marilu Henner—who participated in group interviews with Lesley Stahl and in exhaustive memory tests with the UCI researchers throughout the year. The “60 Minutes” film crew also came to a solo recital I gave in New York earlier this year, and they also filmed me in my apartment during CocoaRoar season while I was making Peanut Butter&Sea Salt Truffles. I doubt that the chocolate-making clip will make it into the finished story—I haven’t seen the piece yet—but even without that, I hope that you will tune in on Sunday night and share this crazy and exciting memory adventure with me!
Photo op with Lesley Stahl! This was taken after our big group interview on 12/7/09.