What is happening when you know you know something?

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Offline thedoc

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Dominic Parker  asked the Naked Scientists:


Hi Chris I actually emailed in with a question for you guys in my first year at uni here in Nottingham studying neuroscience, so its quite fitting that I felt the need to ask another just as I'm set to graduate.


In terms of my limited understanding of how memory works, it seems that through LTP and other mechanisms you can physically strengthen a synapse to make a stronger memory. However, what exactly is going on at a basic structural level in these two examples:


How is it that you can be told something (e.g. 'fact x') and be aware you have been told it before (the accompanying phrase usually being "oh yeah, I knew that"). Yet you wouldn't have been able to state the fact alone.

Similarly, when asked a question, how can you find yourself saying "I know it, I just can't remember it", since this seems to imply you have consolidated the memory of learning the fact, without consolidating the fact itself. This particular example making an all too regular appearance at any pub quiz I've ever attended.


I'm afraid it was incredibly hard to try and word this question clearly but I hope the phrases as examples make it easier to understand


thanks very much!

Dominic Parker  

What do you think?
« Last Edit: 29/09/2015 16:33:58 by _system »