Partial RecallMikey 6 comments
What does one have to do in order to commit something to memory permanently? The question that has eluded scientists for years and baffled me at the same time is starting to make me feel old.
Some cases in point. Why can I remember the exact time, location, and weather conditions when I first heard "Music sounds better with you" by Stardust back in 1998, but I can"t remember anything about a particular song I have been hearing a lot of on the radio this week, despite it being back announced every time.
Why do I remember the irrelevant details when I dropped my car keys into a small puddle that had formed in my driveway back in 1990, but can"t remember what I had for lunch 5 days ago?
If there is a part of the brain dedicated to organising priority, it must be flawed. But what constitutes priority? And how is priority decided?
Back in 1998 I loved the aforementioned Stardust single, but today I am more impressed by the new song on the Triple J play list. So should my brain automatically re-organise the priority? Perhaps assign higher priority to the new song and therefore allow me to actually remember the things I want to remember; the things that are important to me now. After all I have already decided the new song is better, so why can"t I remember anything about it?
This situation of often mirrored during times of extreme emotion. You have no doubt heard people who can say they remember exactly where they were when they got news that Kennedy had been shot, or when Elvis died. It would be fair to suggest extreme emotions embed longer lasting more vivid memories.
Perhaps the part of the brain responsible for memory and the other part responsible for emotions such as desire, love and want are not as connected as we may think. I am no neurosurgeon but I imagine it like two badly designed programs. Program A is for priority and Program B is for recall. The programs run independent but are also part of a larger program (Brain) and although they need to communicate with each other they inherently rely on the user to make the connection to transfer a piece of information. Sometimes information is lost during the transfer and all that remains is residue or fragments of data. Not unlike a computer at all.
We want to assign a high priority level to the new information, but existing memories are saying "I was here first take a number and stand in line". It only it were as simple as writing code.
What if we could simply delete memories at a mere thought, allowing ourselves to forget irrelevant data thereby remembering only the things that are important? That"s a scary concept I know, and probably something intentionally not built into "the design". Except I don't believe in "the design" but that's another story. Ironic given my job title is 'Design Director'. I digress...
Could the problem be more related to technology? I know that if I don't have it logged in Microsoft Outlook, I will completely forget the meeting I had organised for the same day. Or if my partner doesn't send a text message to my mobile phone around the time I am driving home from work I will forget to stop at the shops to get baby food and chocolate, despite having discussed it on the phone earlier that day.
Can an over-reliance on technology somehow "dull" the part of the brain that helps us remember important things? It would make for some interesting research at the very least.
I know I am not alone. What irrelevant memories do you still hold? And do you have a method to help you recall things afterwards?Enquiring minds want to know.