Dr. Oz says Jill's condition is particularly interesting to researchers because of how her memories are intertwined with emotions...and come with an instant recall of the emotions she felt at the time.
While others have since been diagnosed with the condition called hypothyemezia, Dr. Oz says Jill was the first. "I have my own syndrome," she says.
How do we store memories? Dr. Oz says it starts in the amygdala, part of the reptilian brain—the oldest part of the human brain, a remnant of our evolutionary history. "Reptiles are just responsive; they're instinctual beings. Humans, theoretically—not all of us do it all the time—we're supposed to use the outer part of the brain to temper what we do."
Because of the structure of the amygdala, this part of the brain has us constantly in a natural state of anxiety. "The amygdala is the brain's fire alarm. It's just shooting out messages all the time: 'Hey, watch out! Look left! Look right! Not good! Don't trust! Evil! Good!' All of those messages are being shot up to your head."
Then, the middle parts of the reptilian brain integrate that initial reaction to attempt to make sense of what you just figured out through sensation—creating a memory. "If there's something bad happening, you want to remember it so you don't get in that situation again," Dr. Oz says.