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How Human Memory Works

I’ve always been fascinated by the way human memory works.  I’ve never thought that it was a “linear” process.  That is, I have never thought of it like a film, with a start and an end, and parts in the middle.  Not only does that not seem to make sense when memory is always a “work in progress,” but memory doesn’t always allow us to remember recent events as clearly as a linear process would suggest.

I’ve often thought of memory as a multidimensional matter, starting with the 3 physical dimensions, a 4th in time, and several other sensual dimensions including smell, taste, and sound.  Memories, it seems to me, are process of recording that is like a multidimensional spreadsheet, where different vectors can enable us to construct and deconstruct our ability to recall what has happened in our past.  In addition, rather unlike a movie, in which only that which has been recorded can be replayed, our memories include not only the “actual” events, but also our feelings and impressions, as well as our fantasies, which then allow us to remember our special “version” of events.

Recent discoveries about how our brains work and of the memory device itself confirm some of my impressions, dispel others, and cause me to think again about how I remember and forget.  If you, too, are fascinated by the power and process of human memory, then I think you’ll find this Big Think video of Dr. Antonio Damasio very interesting!

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