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Author Topic: How do I prove that it is a life event memory and not a dream memory?  (Read 8403 times)


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In principle, I agree with how your definitions relate to memory storage and retrieval. I have 1 area in which my thoughts are perhaps slightly different to yours, which can be highlighted in 2 areas in your text:

As you say, the difference between us is not a huge gulf, and since both of us are speculating about things for which we have only limited hard evidence, some of it will have to come down to unprovable speculation on both of our parts.

In the first paragraph, you discuss the premise that memory fills in the parts that it doesn’t remember with details from other events. In the second paragraph, you discuss the brain spending time finding keys to unlock memories that have remained closed for some time. My train of thought is this: My memory of the dog episode to date has been that I have recalled many times over the last 15 years the event and the pertinent information to the event, ie, those memories I shared yesterday. The recollection of clothing and so on are not relevant to the event in that the event title, if it were to be labelled for storage would be “Dog bite” and not “Things that people were wearing on such and such a date. Oh, and that dog thing too”. This means that I have not ever spent the time recalling or trying to recall what they were wearing. This is I think where we differ in thought. To me, this does not mean that I didn’t store this information somehow. All it means is that I haven’t accessed it for a considerable time, and hence the immediate links are missing. As you say, there may be elements that have been filled in through later or earlier events, in that I know about the collar, but that is not proof that I didn’t make a memory of it from that occasion. The second paragraph from your comments supports how I think it would be recalled, in that if I were given time, some other stimulus and perhaps trained in a different mechanism for extracting the memories, I would be able to. How much time, I don’t know. Perhaps even longer that our own lifetime?

I don't think there is anything there that I disagree with, but I think what we have agreed about differs from the original premise that you ever stored an image of the event.

So, as I say, in principle, I agree. Older memories are probably bits of an event which you then add knowledge to, to create a “pseudo” memory, but I do believe that it is all stored somewhere, and therefore that I do have a sensory memory of that incident - it’s just that the correct stimuli have not yet been applied, which is why it cannot yet be fully recalled.

My early replay was phrased to deliberately indicate that you almost certainly did originally store more facts about the event than you now recall (how much more facts, and how much was missing right from the start will have to remain speculation).  But the key point I was trying to make was that right from the start, you never stored a complete unitary memory of the incident, but right at the beginning you had already broken the image down into separate abstract ideas.  This is why different ideas from the image have a different life span in your memory, for if they were only ever stored as a single unitary visual image, you would expect that you recall all of the visual parts from the image equally.  Even more so, if you remember the image, then you should readily remember what the people in the image were wearing, for those are visual parts of the image, even as you may forget that one of the people in the image was your girlfriend (for the fact that she was your girlfriend cannot be obvious from the visual image, but is an unequivocal abstract fact that was extracted from the original incident - it is part of your original interpretation of the incident, but not part of the image).

Offline dentstudent

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I think that we've taken this as far as we can - I also think that we've established that memory is a rather complex and intricate process. Thanks for the discussion George.

Offline coglanglab

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OK, I will try and explain my understanding about how memory works, but I will stress that this is my own conjecture based on my observations, and not anything authoritative.

Firstly, memory obviously comes in many forms.

another_someone's explanation was a nice start. There are definitely many, many types of memories, and they differ from each other in different ways.

For instance, if considering just visual memory, there is iconic memory, short-term memory and long-term memory. Visual iconic memory is almost like an echo or an after-image. It lasts only a very brief period of time (a few hundred milliseconds), and is essentially a reconstruction of the original visual experience.

Right after that, you have visual short-term memory, which is said to last a few seconds. Some recent research I did suggests that it isn't so much limited by time as by space. When you see something new, whatever was in your short-term memory gets pushed out in favor of the new information. You can also read these blog posts I wrote about visual short-term memory:

newbielink: [nonactive]
newbielink: [nonactive]

Then, there is long-term memory, which we are all more familiar with.

And that's just visual memory, which is distinguishable for verbal memory, which definitely has long-term and short-term components. I don't recall if there is an iconic verbal memory as well.

Long-term visual and verbal memory, along with other types of memory, is generally considered to be part of declarative memory, which is generally your memory for facts. I believe declarative memory also includes "source memory," which is the memory for where you learned something. This is a bit different from the memory itself. It's one of the reasons advertising works. You remember that you heard Trident is the best toothpaste; you forget that you heard that in a commercial.

There is also procedural memory, which is the memory for how to do something, like ride a bicycle.

What amnesics have lost is long-term declarative memory. Procedural memory and short-term memory systems are all intact, which is why they can remember new facts only for short periods of time, but they can learn entire new skills (like how to play the piano) and it sitll sticks with them.


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Offline dkv

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There is no distinction ...
If we close our eyes and imagine a real world event then it illuminates the same area of brain which is used during "real" world event.
Dream theory can not be falsified.

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