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November 27, 1991

Touching on the Keys to Visual Memory

Author Affiliations

Chevy Chase, Md

Chevy Chase, Md

JAMA. 1991;266(20):2833-2834. doi:10.1001/jama.1991.03470200045028

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To the Editor.  —I have made a clinical observation about memory, which I cannot explain but invite others to try. For 30 years, I have taken notes on my patients using a typewriter and the "touch-typing" system without looking at the keyboard or losing eye contact with my patients.Today, I tried to draw a picture of the keyboard from memory but could not go beyond figuring out a few of the home keys. An informal survey of secretaries at the hospital who touch type revealed that when their keyboards were covered, none was any better than I.After looking at the keyboard and studying it briefly, I was able to reconstruct it, but was unable to visualize the board with which I was so familiar without "re-encoding."How can this inability to visually construct the keyboard be squared with the functional facility that allows me to use it? Is