Speaking of the cops... I recently had an inspiring interview with Sgt. Vickie Stansberry, the SFPD's sketch artist. (She plays a key role in the book's chapter on how we get images from our minds onto paper).
During our talk, Sgt. Stansberry gave me a demonstration of what it is like to have your mind picked clean by a forensic artist. Trippy. I got a shock seeing how much is stored in our visual brains that we don't ourselves know. And she got a great view of the front of my house. (I had no idea that I knew our front door had three panels until she showed me what I had described to her... like I said, trippy.)
The biggest insight was this: the forensic artist really has three jobs, each one more challenging than the previous. First, she has to get someone to recall a face that they might have seen for no more than a few seconds, and in many cases saw amidst pure trauma. Second, she has to get them to verbally describe that face so that she can draw it. Third, she has to create the fully realized image of a person she herself has never met before. As Sgt. Stansberry says, "The witnesses become my eyes and I become their hands."
There are so many lessons here for visual thinkers that I'm still trying to get them all down, but one that really sticks with me: if you want to recall something vaguely remembered, close your eyes and imagine what happened leading up to the critical moment. Then "play the mental video camera forward frame-by-frame" until right up to the moment of truth and stop there. Your mind will bring it all back, and in greater detail than you ever knew. Whew.
Like Sgt. Stansberry says, it works for finding your keys too.