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Author Topic: Is Eveything We See/do/experience Remembered ?  (Read 4379 times)

Offline neilep

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Is Eveything We See/do/experience Remembered ?
« on: 19/02/2008 02:25:48 »
When you re-read a book.......you read words and phrases that are familiar to you. They are familiar because you have read them before. You have remembered them. Yet.....if asked to cite a paragraph out loud from memory you can't do it.

Do you think the words are in fact stored there in your brain ?........and that we just do not know how to access them ?

When watching a program , film or a play that we may have seen years and years before......we can often recall what happens in the next scene or what is about to happen.....we have remembered it........

I wonder if every single thing we do and see is in fact stored in every detail and that it is ready to be recalled and that we do not know how.


I have often had those fleeting memory hits when for no reason (that I can fathom) a memory comes back to me....it may even be years later and it may be the most banalest of memories.......something as trite as letting go of a sweetie wrapper out of a car window as a seven year old........I'm not questioning the fact as to why did I recall it...I am asking if every instance/experience of our lives is in fact pedantically recorded ?


what do you think ?


 

Offline Karen W.

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Is Eveything We See/do/experience Remembered ?
« Reply #1 on: 19/02/2008 02:33:05 »
I wonder about that also.. You know when they hypmotize people they say they can go back and recall what they were doing at certain points of their lives that they would not recall otherwise so it makes me think that we hide it away and that we have to have the right prompt or cue the sweetie so to speak to recall the memory but with the right prompt that yes it may be there! I am just guessing but thats what I think may be indeed happening.. like memories induced by trauma and hidden too!. Same as your sweetie wrapper..
 

another_someone

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Re: Is Eveything We See/do/experience Remembered ?
« Reply #2 on: 19/02/2008 02:48:48 »
There are three different issues here:

  • What do we remember.
  • How do we recollect what we remember.
  • Whether, and in what circumstances, do we lose memory (note that I am referring to losing memory, rather than losing memories - since memories are not discrete events that are individually lost, but a continuum that we lose bits of).

Firstly, we do not remember what we see or hear, we remember our own interpretation.  This is particularly important when, for instance, you are remembering the words in a book or a film - you do not remember the shapes on the page, you remember the meaning of the words - you have already interpreted the shapes into units of language before you normally would commit them to memory.  This is important because it is one of the reasons why you often misremember things, because you misinterpreted it in the first place.

The process of recollection and forgetting is to some extent intertwined, but also linked to comprehension.  Most memories we do not remember, we remember remembering - that is, we remembered it, thought about it, and put 9it back in our memory.  In this way, we have reinforced our original memory.  So things we think about more often are reinforced, and so are quicker to recall next time we seek to remember it, while things we don't think about often we weaken our memory of.

This leads to another problem.  Just as we interpret our original memory, so when we think about it again, we reinterpret it, and so can further distort the original memory by our new interpretation.

So, the question is, is a distorted memory really an act of forgetting?  If, in recalling, and reinterpreting an event, and modifying (often simplifying) the original event, are you forgetting details of the original event?
 

another_someone

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Is Eveything We See/do/experience Remembered ?
« Reply #3 on: 19/02/2008 02:49:49 »
I wonder about that also.. You know when they hypmotize people they say they can go back and recall what they were doing at certain points of their lives that they would not recall otherwise so it makes me think that we hide it away and that we have to have the right prompt or cue the sweetie so to speak to recall the memory but with the right prompt that yes it may be there! I am just guessing but thats what I think may be indeed happening.. like memories induced by trauma and hidden too!. Same as your sweetie wrapper..

But, as Eth is fond of mentioning, there is also the risk of creating false memories.
 

Offline Karen W.

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Is Eveything We See/do/experience Remembered ?
« Reply #4 on: 19/02/2008 03:11:07 »
Yes I remember him saying that! How does one distinguish between them... I have no trouble knowing the real memories from dreams, but I suspect there is a deeper meaning behind Eths statement!
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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Is Eveything We See/do/experience Remembered ?
« Reply #5 on: 19/02/2008 08:52:27 »
It's almost impossible to distinguish false memories from real memories as the person having the false memories honestly & truly believes them to be real.

It is worth noting that false memories are usually based on real memories that have been distorted - either by time and subsequent events, or by other means such as dubious counselling methods.

For instance, if we witness a crime and give a statement some considerable time later, parts of what we remember may have been influenced by speaking with others or by things we have read. We may have started out thinking the criminal had fair hair, but someone else may have convinced us he was bald. When we give our statement we will, in all honesty, state that the perpetrator was bald. This is 1 of the reasons that I object to the use of lie detectors.

Similarly, we may have done something with a friend and then months, or even years, later when discussing it, you find you have different recollections of the event.

There was a song in the musical Gigi (sung by Maurice Chevalier and, I believe, Leslie Caron) that illustrates this point very nicely.

http://er.neoxer.com/lyrics/gigi.html
 

Offline neilep

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Is Eveything We See/do/experience Remembered ?
« Reply #6 on: 19/02/2008 11:39:58 »
Thank you all for you very insightful and valuable answers.

I still do wonder that in addition to the method of remembering, and the various influences that can affect our recollection, that the original true facts of that memory is still there..........I can understand that we may not remember the shape of words, but their meaning.....though I do wonder if the shape of the words is also  remembered. Some people do have photographic memories.....maybe they have access to a route we don't. I also realise that these people maybe savants but it still does lead to the fact that it is possible.


The 'sweetie wrapper' memory was a bona-fide recollection. I remember the day quite well. Now, unless the whole set of events of that day are false then I have had an extensive mind-warp ! I have corroborated the days events with my mummy though. I can see that one might say that the sweetie wrapper maybe a memory that I have implanted there. Would the fact that I recall the car, (not our car !) the location, the weather , the road and the people serve to confirm the memory is real ?
 

another_someone

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Is Eveything We See/do/experience Remembered ?
« Reply #7 on: 19/02/2008 16:50:50 »
Thank you all for you very insightful and valuable answers.

I still do wonder that in addition to the method of remembering, and the various influences that can affect our recollection, that the original true facts of that memory is still there..........I can understand that we may not remember the shape of words, but their meaning.....though I do wonder if the shape of the words is also  remembered. Some people do have photographic memories.....maybe they have access to a route we don't. I also realise that these people maybe savants but it still does lead to the fact that it is possible.

I suspect it is not so much that some people have access to information that most of us lack, but they lack interpretation of the information, so they only see the raw information (which is what they remember) and not the meaning of that information.

Intelligence is all about interpreting information, understanding what is (or appears to be) salient about it, and discarding that which is noise.

The 'sweetie wrapper' memory was a bona-fide recollection. I remember the day quite well. Now, unless the whole set of events of that day are false then I have had an extensive mind-warp ! I have corroborated the days events with my mummy though. I can see that one might say that the sweetie wrapper maybe a memory that I have implanted there. Would the fact that I recall the car, (not our car !) the location, the weather , the road and the people serve to confirm the memory is real ?

I cannot say how much of what you remember is real and how much is fabricated, or resequenced.

Ofcourse, what you remember is consistent and makes sense - but that is the whole point of memory, that we remember a few bits that form the underlying structure and that is enough to fill in the details when we need to, but those details are back filled and may not be totally accurately backfilled.

That you remember the car, and the road, and the location, and the weather, would corroborate that they are all genuine memories; what it does not corroborate is that they are all memories of the same event.  How many other times in your life did you see that road and that car - are you sure the memory of the car and road are for that day, or was it remembered from another day?  The sweet paper incident very possibly did happen, but did it actually happen when you were 7, or maybe when you were 5, or when you were 10?  It may have happened in a fairly similar way several times, and your memory of it is a composite of all the other memories.
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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Is Eveything We See/do/experience Remembered ?
« Reply #8 on: 19/02/2008 19:58:22 »
George has stated it very well, especially in his last paragraph about the way memories can become composited.

If we see something a lot - say, the bedroom that we are growing up in - then that gets imprinted deeply. Events that happen within that room are superimposed on that deep imprint, but are not themselves necessarily deeply imprinted. As such, it may become difficult to fully separate one from another.

Think of it as the cast in a play. The scenery remains the same while the characters come and go. When remembering a certain part of the play a few weeks later, we may remember a dialogue between 2 characters - but was there another character in the background? We may remember that there was, when, in fact, that character had been standing there at a different moment. Or maybe we remember a different character having been there rather than the one who actually was.

We could quite happily swear an oath that what we remember is fact, when it is actually 2 memories, or more, that have become composited.

A further point to consider is perceptual embellishment. This is when we ourselves add detail to a memory because it would fit in with what we believe we are seeing.

As an example, there was some research a few years ago (and some of it was used in an advertising campaign) about how people interpreted various photographs and video sequences. One I distinctly remember was of a black man running along a road with 2 uniformed police officers running behind him. Most people who saw the clip interpreted it as the black man being a criminal and the 2 policemen were chasing him. Many of the subjects "remembered", when questioned about it some weeks later, that he had a look of panic on his face and some even recollected that he knocked people over in his haste to escape.

When the whole clip was played it transpired that the black man was also a police officer - plain clothes - and the 3 of them were chasing a 4th man who was the real criminal.

The subjects who remembered the look of panic etc. had embellished their own perception of the event to add weight to what they perceived was happening. Yet any one of them would have sworn that they actually saw what they said they had and it would have shown as truth on a lie detector.
« Last Edit: 19/02/2008 20:11:32 by DoctorBeaver »
 

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Is Eveything We See/do/experience Remembered ?
« Reply #8 on: 19/02/2008 19:58:22 »

 

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