Conundrums Observer or observerless
1 ball no space no time no weight no dimension no colour, no taste no vibration
2 balls seperate so introduces notion of space or distance in a straight line between them
3 balls Triangle relative distance, angles 180 degrees.
Information through sensation
We can only memorise what we observe or imagine but we can only imagine after we have observations to work on, otherwise our memory is a tabula rasa. Observation is through our senses. We can input auditory visual tactile taste and smell, the 5 senses. We also have proprioception a sense of orientation. These allow us to perceive the world about us through the medium of our senses. We also have a perception of time based on the changes in these perceptions.
The world can be observed through other senses that we do not have but are able to piggyback onto by re evaluating them in terms of the senses that we do perceive.
Hence microscopes telescopes Infra red [predator] U Violet radio waves etc as we have learnt from our science talks. Magnetic fields and electrical signals are used by birds and fish and bats used high pitched sounds that we cannot hear. CT scans and MRI and USS are other mediums we use.
Our input is only as good as our receptors [senses] allow. Visual problems, hearing problems reduce our capacity to assess and store information. .
The observations are assessed and recorded in specific areas of the brain, visual cortex, auditory cortex. but also go to all areas of the brain for further consideration, organisation, action and storage. The scope for this central processing room is a little beyond the remit of this talk though it is vital for our talk today on memory.
Memory storage by the brain is still controversial. There is no one site in the brain that it is stored in. Medical studies have shown that multiple variable sites all over the brain are active and activated when using ones senses. The main theory is that the neurons in the brain set up multiple interconnecting pathways and some have the plasticity to store the inputs and retain this as information that can then be used. More recent studies suggest that memory information is actually stored in the cells themselves and is able to be recovered.
Conceptually we liken our brains to computers. This is actually truer than you think but it is not yet proven or understood. [Why explain later re nature of inputs* binary].
Memory is classified partly by storage and partly by the input system.
But also by the use we make of it through our CPU. to organise both our thinking and our emotions. Different areas of the brain help control our different types of thinking and our emotions.
Hence we have a speech [Broca’s] area usually on the left side of the brain where we organise our languages.
Here we have emotional memory, map memory, photographic memory,
Many of these areas have been shown by MRI techniques whereas in the older days brain mapping was done by observation on the changes in thinking people had with brain injuries like stokes.
Why do we have memory, what is it used for and what advantages and problems does it cause?
Evolutionary wise memory was something that developed accidentally in self replicating proteins that helped them survive better. Life itself is memory in that the RNA is a memory code that makes more RNA , a self explaining loop. Humans like to look for reasons for behavior but here none are needed, By definition ongoing replication must have built in mechanisms to do so [cue Aliens again], Evolution dictates that if a better way of doing so comes along it will be incorporated, not that it needs to be.
Hence if a sense developed that was protective it would be incorporated. Sensing food, seeing danger and reacting appropriately were not necessary, just useful improvements., The protobrain was the cell and its cell wall. The memories of pain, heat, thirst and actions to alleviate them improved over time and were coded for by the RNA and developed in the cell.
Some of memories are stored in a special memory organ, the brain. Needed by a gigantic billion cell organism.But every cell in our body had both cellular memory and RNA memory and DNA memory and can react without central nervous involvement. Our immune system has an Immune memory which develops and improves throughout our life without any need to be involved with our brain.Our bodies develop under the remembered response of hormonal and time influences to dramatic changes from birth to adult hood then senescence. Our organs react to food input in the appropriate manner and as humans we have a diurnal lifestyle imposed on us by remembered evolution.
There is a lovely Frank Sinatra song, “Memories are made of this”
(The sweet, sweet memories you’ve given me
You can’t beat the memories you’ve given me)
Take one fresh and tender kiss,
Add one stolen night of bliss,
One girl; one boy; some grief; some joy:
Memories are made of this.
Don’t forget a small moonbeam.
Fold it lightly with a dream.
Your lips and mine,Two sips of wine:
Memories are made of this.
Then add the wedding bells;
One house where lovers dwell;
Three little kids for the flavor.
Stir carefully through the days See how the flavor stays.
These are the dreams you will savor.
With His blessings from above,
Serve it generously with love.
One man, one wife, One love, through life:
So what is a memory, what is memory.
Memory is the ability to store and recall the past events of our life.
To remember words and language rules in a way to think clearly and communicate
To find our way around our world and identify those persons and things we come in contact with. It is the gift that enables our CPU to think clearly and also to plan and think ahead or fall into a muse and remember.
But it also a psychological aide, for good or ill to help us through our lives.
It allows us to develop and express our emotions and helps form the base of our conscious, consciousness and the person we will be through life.
When we are young we have no time for memory we are too busy developing it, When we are old we spend too much time using it and the one thing we fear is losing it.
Memory loss is built in to mist of us like aging. We need all the brain cells we can have even though we do not appear to use them at anywhere near their fill potential . We lose 200,000 a day from birth but this 6 billion over 90 years is only a small part of the 42 billion available.
Nevertheless losing a big chunk of the brain by repeated damage as in boxing or concussion injuries with LOC or strokes is not a good thing. Some people have a sensitivity to alcohol damage to the brain instead of the liver [Wernicke’s encephalitis]. For most of us this is not a problem. B12 deficiency can cause problems. Meningitis, encephalitis and syphilis are infections capable of causing brain damage. The most problematic is Alzheimer’s disease or presenile dementia which is the early onset of dementia. The cause is still unknown though there is a genetic tendency to early disease in some people. MRI has helped diagnosis but it is usually best diagnosed post mortem..
Senile dementia is related to vascular damage from atheroma over many years and usually occurs at a later age. Other rarer conditions exist. Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, etc
I will be controversial here and merely say that I have never been made aware of an effective strategy for countering Alzheimer’s disease.
It behoves all of us to reduce our risk by living life in moderation and avoiding Bungee jumping.
Early diagnosis can make a big difference to the sufferer and their partner.
The best clue is a sudden change in simple tasks by an otherwise reliable person.
Putting plastic dishes in the oven [more than once], Forgetting appointments regularly, losing things or repeated “thefts”. Putting dints in the car and for doctors in the audience people repeatedly asking for lost scripts and what the medicine is for. It is very hard to diagnose but quite obvious when the diagnosis is made.
Should we attempt to improve our memory?
Yes. Old dogs can learn new tricks. One of the secrets of staying younger physically and mentally is to try new challenges and new activities. We still have a capacity, so many brain cells left, that we can easily improve our brains and enjoy life more.
Crosswords, Sudoku, Board and card games, Trips, Trivia and U3A.
The secret to improving your memory is to want to improve your memory.
The tip to improve your memory is to write things down, not necessarily a diary, even a scrap of paper will help
The Zeigarnik Effect
When you start working on something but do not finish it, thoughts of the unfinished work continue to pop into your mind even when you’ve moved on to other things. This can be useful as a counter to procrastination.