Bob Petrella can remember virtually every day of his life. He is one of only 56 people known to have “highly superior autobiographical memory” (HSAM). His condition isn’t always fun – he has obsessions like the urge to wash his keys every time he drops them – but he does have fun with it, too. When he was 13 (he remembers the exact date, Friday, January 3, 1964), he created an imaginary college basketball team called the Holland College Golden Knights. Petrella remembers every player and every game the Golden Knights played over the past 50 seasons. (The team made it to 10 NCAA championships. They won five.)
Dr. James McGaugh, an expert in memory and cognition at the University of California Irvine, has studied the 56 people identified with HSAM and says none to his knowledge has created such a fantasy world. Isn’t the team just another kind of obsession? Dr. McGaugh tells Lesley Stahl on 60 Minutes (April 19, 7pm on CBS), "I guess you could say the fantasy team is another form of obsession," he tells Stahl, but a harmless one. "In some sense, it's a good idea to have an imaginary basketball team because it doesn't cost anything and it's a lot of fun."
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