MEMORIES MAKE US WHO WE ARE
Without a memory you fall out of time. You can hold on to memories just long enough to think about them, but once your brain moves on to another topic you could never bring it back. Trapped in this limbo between a pas; you can’t remember and a future you can’t contemplate, But rejoice, you are always very happy free from worry and stresses in life.
What turns your perceptions into long-term memories? Do you forget and think of it as a senior annoyance and nothing more? Do you remember you had breakfast, or that you just woken up? Do you prefer the history channel about WWII? After reading a newspaper headline, have you forgotten how it began?
Most of what we know about memory comes from studying damaged brains. We argue about how many memory systems there are, but there are basically two kinds of memory: those you know you remember, like the color of your car, and those you know without consciously thinking about them, like taking a shower. These unconscious memories are not stored in the hippocampus region, but in the cerebellum. One part of the brain can be damaged but the rest of the brain keeps on working.
We use to think the brain was a perfect video recorder, with all your lifetime memories stored in the brain attic. If you cant find them its not that they disappeared, but you have just lost access to them. With a goggle search, they will certainly be found.
Tragedies and wounds seem to be sharply etched in our immediate memory, but the ones we really need as the name of your dear friend or soul mate, where you left the keys, what day is your doctor appointment, have a habit of disappearing. We waste over a month’s time every year looking for things we have forgotten.
You keep being bombarded with new information, yet so little of it is cataloged so it can be retrieved later, like your new password or user id. What if you had this lost knowledge always at your fingertips. You would know more about our world and especially more about yourself. How many great ideas never got connected because of your failed memories?
What would it be like not to have a palm pilot, a blackberry, a computer address book when we couldn’t always depend on easy access to everything. In the past, the art of memory was codified with a long set of rules and instructions. You were taught not just what to remember, but how to remember.
Today, we replaced our internal memory with an external memory, a super computer allowing us not to store information in our brains. Rather than remembering everything, we remember very little. Digital videos record our experiences, calendars keep track of our schedules and post notes help us scribble notes. By outsourcing your memory have you lost something?
You want to preserve your past, and keep it all. All your recorded I pod songs, all the videotapes and digital camera photos, and all our diaries and calendars, will all be stored by the internet.
Your memory has a way to protect you. You remember the comforting good things, but also your entire bad choices and wounds hat are still beating you over and over after 10 or more years.
Your sensory organs feed information to a mass of neurons that interpret it, and gives us a sense of what is happening now and what will happen in the future, so you can respond in the best way. Your brain is a predictor machine, trying to make order out of the chaos in your life. You don’t need to remember most things that come to your brain.
You can remember every detail of your life, but can’t tell the important from the trivial. You can’t prioritize, nor generalize. It may be better to forget and not remember. That might make you more human.
Many of us will get Alzheimer’s disease, and many more suffer from mild cognitive impairment. You can’t recall everything that happened today. You look for drugs that will give you artificial memory and have lost the art of memory, which is more effective and safer. It is easier to take a ginkgo biloba or a smart soft drink that may improve your memory, or perhaps dry it up.
Drug companies are always looking for new drugs that will amplify our brain’s natural capacity to remember. It would be sold to college kids before exams or others that want to just be sharper. Study buddies like Ritalin, and Red Bull are used today by over 25% of our college kids.
What if you had a better memory? You could remember things exactly as they happened free of your exaggerations and revisions your mind creates. Would you have memory that forgets your traumas? Would you have memory that remembers only the things you want to remember?
Folks, the internet is stealing your memory!