SEXIEST PERSONS ALIVE

Saturday, January 05, 2008

remember to remember



How often have you had the thought, "Do I remember that time I was four or do I only remember the picture?" These kinds of doubts, was it real or was it kodak, have increased exponentially over the years, leaving me to assume that its simply the corrosive aspects of aging. Neuroscientist, Joseph Ledoux, however, offers an intriquing explanation of memory that helps explain this phenonemon. Most of us think that memory is something stored and then later accessed as needed. Like a dresser drawer with clothes, say. We open the drawer, wear the shirt, then put it back until we need it next time. However, Ledoux talks about a lab study indicating that each time a memory is pulled into conscious awareness, "it has to be restored as a new memory in order to be accessible later. The old memory is either not there or is inaccessible. In short, your memory about something is only as good as your last memory about something."


So when you're looking through the photo album and you "remember" wearing those pajamas, jumping on that bed, you only retain that which you remember via the photograph. All of the "real" memories, not captured by camera (laughing, the bed squeaking, mother's perfume) get replaced by the single snapshot.


Unless, I assume, we put the picture down and allow our minds to recall those fuller details, allowing the rich tapestry of our "real" memory to go back into the memory capsule.


This new concept of memory suggests there's a distinctly negative side to taking so many still life and video pictures. One the one hand, we see a picture and are "reminded." But on the other hand, our ability to once again retrieve the fullness of that memory becomes short-circuited. Something to think about the next time you're looking through the photo album.


7 comments:

Feminist Gal said...

and there's always the possibility of creating false memories - harder to do with photos but I frequently find myself "remembering" times from childhood only after my parents desribe them :)

PhD in Yogurtry said...

yes, and then there's the controversial repressed memory syndrome where therapists (inadvertently)lead a client to believe they have memories of sexual abuse when, in fact, they don't

Feminist Gal said...

i see you're a psychologist - i actually just finished applying to clinical psych ph.d. programs for the fall... now i wait to see if they'll admit a student with nontraditional research interests (i want to study body image and CBT through a feminist perspective) :)

PhD in Yogurtry said...

How many programs? They were quite competitive, when I was applying, esp clinical (moi aussi). Feminist perspective & body image doesn't sound so non-traditional, not in the psych arena. have you not found any profs doing research or with clinical interests in same? Good luck.

Feminist Gal said...

i've applied to 10 programs, all over the country. From VT to McGill and TX :)
I have found faculty doing the work i'm interested in but none are doing it from an outwardly "feminist perspective". After talking with them through email, however, i think the programs i applied to will all be a good fit :) I'll know soon enough, ugh, i hate not being in control of my destiny!

PhD in Yogurtry said...

Yes, I remember. Not fun. Its very frustrating not knowing where you will be in less than a year's time. Hard to plan. But it is very exciting. And you've taken the big first step, filling out all those applications. I hope you get in to at least one or two. Keep me posted.

Lilith said...

Wow, that makes sense. Sometimes when I remember things from a long time ago, especially when I remember past relationships, I feel like it never really happened and I'm just remembering some story. I guess those memories are weirder because they involve feelings that I just don't have anymore (towards those people).