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I'm not sure what you mean by "constructed reality". This makes it sound like a fabricated memory, and so may not be an actual one but some more easily stored version, which then may be readable as a the actual memory. In thinking about recollection, it seems to me that visual memories appear as photographic stills yet audio memories can be streamed. I can see only a picture of Julian Lloyd Webber playing Elgar at the Barbican yet I can "hear" the music as it should be. I suspect the sources of this might be different, in that I'm not recalling the music from the actual situation, but a CD of the said concerto, but the point remains the same.
I'm not sure if I agree with your last paragraph, George, if only because I need further explanation. The social conditioning of interpretation of memories and therefore memory creation - I don't see how this is the case from dream memories. I can see this interpretation being correct for life-events, but a dream is usually something that is not shared and I think is stored differently - how does social conditioning interact with something that is entirely personal?
Let me put forward another scenario (this may be more true for some people than for others, but it is true of everyone to some extent). If you see a person for the first time (you are not concentrating on them, they are merely part of the scene you observe), and they have some blemish on the side of their face, but you do not notice the blemish, then your mind will interpolate the image as if it was a blemish free face, and you could swear blind that no blemish existed on the face.
I was not talking specifically about dream memories, but about memories in general.The issues with dream memories are the same, but magnified, in that they have fewer reality checks (although the reality checks can often part of the distortions one has even with real memories). In a sense, the lack of reality check is one way in which one tries to separate 'real' memories from dream memories (if they seem too unreal, they are assumed to be a dream. The problem is that this line is not always clear, and depends upon one's own prejudices about reality. For instance, one may have a dream recollection of an early traumatic experience, but it may only appear to be a dream because you cannot believe it did happen to you. A psychologist may then help convince you that the dream was actually a 'real' memory - the problem is, there is no real way of knowing if the memory was actually 'real', or has been promoted from dream to reality merely by the suggestion of the psychologist (of course, people like Eth will no doubt come in and say that modern psychologists are aware of these risks, and try to mitigate against them - hopefully he will be right, at least most of the time).
I partially agree. I think that you are correct in saying that someone will maintain that the face is blemish free, but I think that their subconscious does notice this, and this information can be accessed, for example through hypnosis.
This is clear to me from the point of view of the psyche hiding these traumata as dreams in a kind of denial. However, what about the rather more benign imagery? It would seem that if your memory is of, say going to buy an ice cream or some other rather more ordinary event (i.e. non-traumatic), that therefore this is much more likely to have been a “real” event and not a dream.
You say that you remember picking bluebells with your dad, but what is it you remember. You have told me a remembered fact, and that you remember that as a fact is one thing. What I would question is that the sensory information you remember of that occasion (as distinct from the summary fact) is anything like complete. I suspect that you remember the fact, maybe have a few fragments of sensory information, and backfilled most of the rest of the sensory information with similar memories from future dates, but memories that make sense with the facts you know of the time.How much of the conversation (word by word) can you remember of that time? Can you remember how high the sun was in the sky? Can you even remember the colour of shirt your dad was wearing on that day (possibly you can, but if so, I am sure that as I add more and more such questions, there will be more and more gaps in your knowledge, or sensory information that has been backfilled into the memory)?
This takes me back to my earlier point, that the memory is more of a photographic still, and not a film. I've no answer to any of your questions, but this doesn't surprise or worry me! But then, even my memory of washing this morning is a still picture. Why should one be more true just because there's 34 years diffrence?
I wonder if I can extend this discussion into a slight tangent please? Are memories stored in several areas of the brain and then 'pulled together' e.g. a bit of sensory input added to a conscious event?And, are people like schizophrenics in a living dream?I am sure that there nust be information on this from PET or other scans.
Yet you told me what you were doing (a movie), not what the image was that you had in your mind.
I was describing what the event was, not describing a sequence as in a movie. When you look at a photo, you say “ah, this is me when I was at the sea when we visited my aging aunt Mathilda who lived in a small hut made of earth and wood” not “Ah this is me standing by the sea” because that’s obvious from the photo. It’s impossible to relate a moment in time without some descriptors of this type and so the description of an event to any 3rd person will inevitably sound is if it is a movie.I would also add that there could be a sequence of stills, so when I was bitten by a dog, I remember going into the hallway, going to pet the dog, then the dog biting my finger as 3 separate images, but which relate a textual “movie”.
It was one of those brown leather ones that darken as it gets older. The dog was a King Charles Spaniel called (oddly, this is the bit I can't remember) (yet), and it had cataracts in both eyes. It bit me on the index finger of my right hand down to the knuckle, and I was the only one who said the damn thing shouldn't be put down.....It was in (about!) 1992.......
I do not believe you have any sensory memory of that incident, for if you do have a true visual recollection of the incident, it cannot be explained how you can remember that your mother and girlfriend were present, yet you do not recollect such components of the same visual image as anything pertaining to the clothing they were wearing. Rather, you remember many facts of the incident, but the only way you are able to verbalise those facts is by trying to reconstruct a visual image by backfilling sensory information from the abstract facts that you recall
As to why it sometimes takes a long time to access some old memories; I suspect that after having searched its recent memories, and failed to find the information it is looking for, the brain then goes about trying to construct lots of different keys with which it might be able to locate the information in the longer term storage. It may be that some event may occur that might suddenly trigger the right key to be created, but even if this event does not take place, the brain keeps on trying one key after another. Probably, while the brain is quiescent, it has less other tasks to undertake, and so can rush through more key trials, which is probably why one most often finds the memory one is looking for when one is actually resting, and apparently thinking of nothing.
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:
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?
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.