What a Mind F*#K!
In an attempt to understand why my dearest memories, those moments spent with family, friends, and colleagues that remain crystal clear to me, vary from others I shared these experiences with, I began reading about the brain and reasons for memory loss. The more information I gathered, the more amazed I became. To be honest, it's overwhelming what the brain is capable of and, thankfully, there's a wealth of information addressing the infinite facets of this magical organ!
Much of the brain functions are like a thief in the night stealing moments our conscious mind doesn't register. In less than a second, it anonymously retains anything you see, touch, or smell, without cognitive control. By utilizing automatic response, it stores information derived from all of our senses.
Research shows we articulate our memories differently to different audiences. That seems obvious to me since I don't mind spinning a yarn and injecting a bit of drama and humor, with a pinch of exaggeration, always taking into consideration the audience. An example might be a college reunion attended with my old classmates as well as their wives and family. Some of the tales might require some editing so they're more appropriate for the venue.
The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology states that not only do the stories change on these occasions, but the memory is now changed. Furthermore, each time the memory is recalled it will be altered. This is known as the "audience-tuning effect".
I question the latter theory for it has been my experience that the stories we hear from family and friends on Thanksgiving, Christmas, barbecues, or other family events are tedious in their consistency. I appreciate that stories might be embellished considering the audience and the libations being consumed, but they inevitably return to the same boring tales we've come to love. There are numerous explanations as to why embellishments might happen every time we recall a previous experience, taking into consideration what we believe to be true and what we want to be true!
Published on November 20, 2018, in Nature Communications, the findings offer new insights into the mechanisms of both memory and decision making. According to Columbia University researchers, the brain plays back and prioritizes high-reward events for later retrieval and filters out the neutral, inconsequential events, retaining memories that will be useful to future decisions.
If that's true, why do I still remember my first wife?!?
Four Types Of Memory Loss
According to the Terra Vista Foundation, memory loss isn't a simple thing, and there are many factors at work when considering the process of memory loss. There are four different types of memory: sensory, short-term, working, and long-term memory.
· Short-Term Memory—Short-term memory loss is one of the first symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. You might recall your loved one asking the same question multiple times in the course of a day, or a couple of days. This is commonly described as the inability to recall information that was just recently given to you. The amount of time concerning 'short-term' can be from a couple of seconds, up to a few days.
· Sensory Memory—Sensory memory is considered the 'shortest-term' memory. It usually is only 3 seconds recalling sensory experiences (memories related to seeing, hearing, tasting, etc.) Sensory memory is often not referred to so much in detecting Alzheimer's because it is subtle and these memories are too short.
· Working Memory—Working memory is also noticed in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease, as it is closely linked to the short-term memory. Working memory is what allows our brains to keep limited amounts of information stored up long enough to use it. It helps us to process our thoughts and to form plans, as well as to develop ideas. As you can see, the short-term memory and the working memory work together.
· Long-Term Memory—Long-term memory is usually visible in Alzheimer's patients later on in diagnosis. These memories are from a few weeks to early memories from life. The process of memory moves from sensory to short-term to long-term. This explains why long-term memory is the last to be affected in the disease.
It's inconceivable that the human brain isn't considered the wonder of creation! Especially since it weighs just 3 pounds with billions of nerve cells that exchange data with other neurons faster than a speeding bullet and more powerful than a locomotive. While reading this blog, your brain is carrying out an immense number of highly complex functions including guiding the muscles in your eyes, adjusting so you can see with equally sharp clarity in changing light conditions.
The capacity the brain has to store and disseminate information, to mention just a few of the plethora of its capacity, totally BLOWS MY MIND MAN!
Through Whose Eyes Will We Experience The Truth?
If in fact our memories do change simply by recalling and sharing them, how do cultures who document their history with only paintings and stories rely on these traditions to maintain a consistent message as time passes? Since much of the truth has been omitted from our history books, is the truth now a lie? If men wrote the Bible from information gathered from other men, or from their own memories, why would anyone be surprised when its content is questioned? One example is the debate between the Old and New Testaments.
The ability to question and inquire into other’s beliefs is a gift of free men and women. To blindly believe everything we’re told is naïve and troublesome to me. Since the truth has become so subject and vague, we must teach our children to have an open mind and to utilize that mind to find their own beliefs. If they don’t, they will spend their lives living someone else’s truth!
Back in the day, in most grade school history books, Native Americans were either portrayed as ignorant for selling the Island of Manhattan for beads and trinkets, or savages who needed to be stopped from slaughtering the settlers. How many of us read about "The Trail of Tears" in the school history books when we were growing up?
"The Trail of Tears" was a 1,000+ mile journey on foot that claimed the lives of 4,000 Cherokee Indians as they were forced to move from their tribal lands from as far away as southwestern North Carolina and northwestern Georgia out to the new Indian Territory of Oklahoma. This tragedy silenced a culture that could have taught us how to respect the earth so it could continue to thrive, and to take only what we need from it.
But I don't recall hearing any book reports read in class addressing the "Indian Removal Act" created by Andrew Jackson, the seventh President of the United States, specifically to exile Native Americans from their ancestral land in spite of agreeing to never remove them from said land, while also banning the use of their language and traditions. Their language and traditions expressed who they were, and without them they would cease to exist as they once were!
With all the information gathered, it appears truth is a subjective thing in spite of the fact that it isn’t subjective at all. When antipathy befriends indifference and ignorance, it allows the haters to commit unthinkable human rights crimes; therefore, the plight of the Native Americans happened!
The truth we learned came from the perspective of progress being sacrosanct, capitalism taking precedence over fairness, and the Anglo-Saxon perception of superiority. This allowed them to look at the fate of Native Americans as collateral damage.
Historic Indian tales and mythology teach appropriate behavior and the repercussions of not following the laws of nature. Native Americans who have abandoned their traditions in order to embrace mainstream culture and the American lifestyle are now encountering an increase in disease! Almost a century ago, there was virtually no diabetes in the Indian communities, but today it runs rampant except for those Elders who continue to observe their traditions.
My personal concern involves short-term memory loss, for this has become my Achilles Heel surpassing trips to the bathroom. I perused through my collection of Reader’s Digest and found nothing relevant so I located a 1959 edition of "The Bronx Journal On Short-Term Memory Loss and Potato Latkes Recipes" and found some pertinent information.
I'm sure many of you have found yourself in a room wondering why you're there! There is a name for this dilemma and an answer to why we find ourselves in these situations. It's referred to as "Event Boundary" in the mind! Research shows that when we pass through a doorway leaving a room and entering another, one set of thoughts end and/or separate from the next thought.
Meaning: Your brain files away the thoughts you had in the previous room, and prepares a blank slate for the new locale. The thought you had to go to another room and turn out the light could very well evaporate once you pass through the doorway from one room to another, leaving you wondering why you're there!
As we can see, there is so much we can't fathom about the brain, but knowing its importance must be conveyed to all of our youth for it is the touchstone to all they will achieve and aspire to. The brain is the “Holy Grail of Knowledge” and a healthy wellbeing! Not integrating basic moral standards and spiritual guidance to the brain, nor nurturing it with positive information, a healthy diet, physical stimulation, and ethical boundaries is naïve and dangerous considering the havoc it can create.
The mind runs the show, writes the script, and, ultimately, will direct what part you’ll play unless you create the best part available utilizing the unending, wondrous, and magical things your brain is capable of!
WHAT A MIND F&*K!