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Thread: MEMORY New Scientist article

  1. #1 MEMORY New Scientist article 
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    I read this article over coffee and cake yesterday. There are some terrific research results and theories reported.

    If you want to read it - do it now on-line.

    Access to articles in back issues can be tricky to access for those of us without an on-line subscription. The ultimate guide to memory - New Scientist

    I particularly liked the approach linking depression and memory - more particularly, the fact that people with depressive disorders have very general memories of events in the past rather than being able to remember the details of even the most pleasurable events in their past. Non-depressed people will talk about the guests, the decorations, the jokes, the music at a birthday or other significant event. Depressed people will just say 'that made me happy' or similar vague comments with no specifics. Great chance for research on improved therapies. Strongly recommended.

    Same for the link between good and poor memories of the past and capacity to envisage and plan for the future.

    Reading this may give some people cause to pause about relatives and friends who 'are boring' because they repeat the details of past events in 'excruciating' detail. That process is very helpful and psychologically healthy for most people.


    "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill
    "nature is like a game of Jenga; you never know which brick you pull out will cause the whole stack to collapse" Lucy Cooke
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  3. #2  
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    It actually seems kind of counter reason - depressed people are ruminating a lot - so they should be remembering better an event than non-depressed people, right?
    I mean, they think about something so many times that they should be remembering it better...
    Or does this logic makes no sense?


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  4. #3  
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    they think about something so many times that they should be remembering it better...
    But what we're now finding out about memory is that every time you remember something, what goes into your memory, ready for the next time, is what you're thinking about it this time.

    That's how false memories arise. That's why some people make false confessions to crimes they had nothing to do with (most false confessions are complete fantasies, of course). That's why some people, especially children, make poor witnesses to crime, especially when faced with aggressive or 'directed' questioning.

    And depressed people? Every time they think about something while they're upset or deeply distressed, they put a depressed overlay on the original memory. So you finish up with people who think someone, everyone, hates them because they've dwelt on chance remarks or transient, meaningless statements - which the people who made them may not even recall because they were intended for someone else, misinterpreted, meaningless or literally thoughtless from the start.

    It's why Cognitive Behavioural Therapy works. It gets people to think things through with a purpose rather than allowing them to create or reinforce negative affect.
    question for you and RonenD1 like this.
    "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill
    "nature is like a game of Jenga; you never know which brick you pull out will cause the whole stack to collapse" Lucy Cooke
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    Nice! Thanks!
    Haven't thought about like that.
    Going to read some more about it now
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    Do depressed people remember negative things as vividly as happy people remember positive things?

    If so it's a case of what your remembering rather than how well your remembering it.

    If you take a happy person to a dinner party, they will remember more of the pleasurable aspects that they apreciate such as decor, jokes, music and all the things they enjoyed... where as a depressed person will not be indulging in the sensual pleasures and therefor will not remember them so clearly, they would have been too distracted by the unhappy memories they have on there mind.

    Perhaps negative experiences are imprinted more strongly in the mind... Because the ego doesn't want to repeat that experience and can use the memory to avoid getting back into that experience.



    What i'm getting from this is that its not quantity of details memorised that makes a differenc
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    I was supposed to delete this sentance but since I didn't, I will finish it off.

    "What i'm getting from this is that its not quantity of details memorised that makes a difference"... in terms of depression/happiness........ It's simply how pleasurable/displeasurable ones experiences have been and indeed how pleasurable/displeasurable one has interpreted those experiences to have been.
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  8. #7  
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    Ever heard of the hot air balloon experiment?

    The researcher talks to a bunch of people, and tells them the experiment is to determine just how much detail of long ago memories people can recall. The subjects are shown old photos of a fairground scene, and a date, and told this was a fair they went to as a child (which is a lie). They are asked to write down everything they remember about their day at the fair, and return with the written report the next day. As the subject departs they are asked to especially give detail on their hot air balloon ride (which, of course, never happened).

    The result is that 30% of the subjects clearly remember the hot air balloon ride that never happened.
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    So in any case - depressed people either view the world in a negative way - and hence remember it that way, or they "make up" bad memories to fit their experience...
    I wonder which one is correct for them (probably both of them in some way right? ), and if someone tested it in an experiment.

    [And a link to the "Hot air balloon" experiment from Wiki just in case you were looking for it : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memory_implantation
    Last edited by RonenD1; November 21st, 2012 at 01:43 AM. Reason: Link fixed
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    The result is that 30% of the subjects clearly remember the hot air balloon ride that never happened.
    No never heard of it and greet it with a certain degree of dubiety.
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    Quote Originally Posted by RonenD1 View Post
    So in any case - depressed people either view the world in a negative way - and hence remember it that way, or they "make up" bad memories to fit their experience...
    I wonder which one is correct for them (probably both of them in some way right? ), and if someone tested it in an experiment.

    [And a link to the "Hot air balloon" experiment from Wiki just in case you were looking for it : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memory_implantation]
    That link doesn't work.

    Happy people could make up happy experiences in the same way... it's not often a case of make up, more a case of perception or interpretation.
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    Which links to the "recovered memory syndrome". This is a very sad myth. Certain nutters developed the theory that psychological trauma was caused by bad things that had happened in the past, and been suppressed so that the victim could no longer remember them. These nutters then decided that 'recovering' those lost memories was a way to get people to face the trauma and overcome it, thereby solving their psychological problems.
    http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/...emory-syndrome

    The 'therapy' consisted of telling questions, over and over again, until the lost memories were 'recovered'. What none of those involved realised is that they were not 'recovering' memories. They were inventing false memories. This became a widespread movement. Many, many people became victims of the 'recovered memory syndrome'. There was an article in Scientific American on this topic, and a hair raising story. The following story was reported as being true.

    A young woman who visited a counsellor for assorted neurotic problems, was put through this recovered/invented memory process. She ended up 'remembering' her father, a Baptist minister, raping her numerous times, and making her pregnant twice, and forcing her twice to have abortions. A trial ensued and her father went to prison. Some years later, the young woman went to a doctor for an unrelated medical problem, and the doctor discovered that she was still a virgin! In due course, her father was released from prison, though with destroyed reputation and career shot to pieces. He forgave his daughter, but at the time of the writing, she still believed her 'recovered memories' and hated her father.

    The weirdest thing about all this is that proper empirical evidence shows that traumatic memories are never suppressed. In fact, they are among the strongest and clearest, and longest lasting memories people ever have.
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    WOW! That's horrible! Can you link to the article maybe?..

    (And QFY - I've fixed the link I posted above... Sorry, sometimes me and the internet don't get along )
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  14. #13  
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    To Ronen

    I am not sure. I no longer subscribe to Scientific American. While it is a great journal, I found myself with too much coming in to do justice with in my reading, and too much money being spent on various subscription.

    There is a related article on False Memories: Scientific American

    But you need to be a subscriber or spend money.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    To Ronen

    I am not sure. I no longer subscribe to Scientific American. While it is a great journal, I found myself with too much coming in to do justice with in my reading, and too much money being spent on various subscription.

    There is a related article on False Memories: Scientific American

    But you need to be a subscriber or spend money.

    Thanks skeptic!
    I probably won't invest in a subscription, but if I decide to buy the issue I'll let you know

    Anyway - at least I found this interesting interview
    (At least it's something to start with)

    It sound much less frighting as she talks about it (not as extreme as I thought it might be)
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  16. #15  
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    Quote Originally Posted by RonenD1 View Post

    It sound much less frighting as she talks about it (not as extreme as I thought it might be)
    It is pretty damn scary if you are the poor sod who ends up in prison because someone has false memories of your fictional misdeeds implanted!
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    Yeah, That's scary for sure!
    (As in - movie style freaky scary :/ )

    But I meant the whole memory changing thing I had in mind (and it was probably just in my head...)
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  18. #17  
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    Have you ever compared memories with siblings or old friends?
    if so:
    Did you both remember the same event the same way?

    (I have a suspicion that most things that people think of as memories, are constructs, or, if you will, reconstructions of a "memory" from a few details, and the rest of the memory is built up around those few details, then mascuerades as a "complete memory")
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    I'm a manic depressed person and have bipolar problems too. I never can get my old thoughts about why I'm depressed out of my head and thinking about them causes me to get into a manic state as well. So I remember exactly what causes my depression , it's just that I can't replace, hide or change what that was. I do see professionals who have helped me with certain medications and consoling but nothing can prevent those thought from entering my mind from time to time which then I become obsessed over.
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    There are some disorders that have a negative effect on memory. People affected with Avoidant PD for example often report having poor memory.
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    Quote Originally Posted by sculptor View Post
    Have you ever compared memories with siblings or old friends?
    if so:
    Did you both remember the same event the same way?

    (I have a suspicion that most things that people think of as memories, are constructs, or, if you will, reconstructions of a "memory" from a few details, and the rest of the memory is built up around those few details, then mascuerades as a "complete memory")
    IMO, it is thought that variety and experience with sensory information allows for a fluidity of interpretation under various circumstances. However, there seem to be certain "memory imprints" which are either "fixed" or hard wired and even when presented with an known illusion, the brain cannot be convinced to chance its symbolic imprint on our mind. If it cannot make sense of it, the brain will use the nearest "improvisation" (almost always wrong).

    Michael Shermer: The pattern behind self-deception | Video on TED.com

    ScienceDirect.com - Neural Networks - Mirror neurons and imitation: A computationally guided review

    Love to make the lady twirl one way then the other.........
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  22. #21  
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    Which links to the "recovered memory syndrome". This is a very sad myth. Certain nutters developed the theory that psychological trauma was caused by bad things that had happened in the past, and been suppressed so that the victim could no longer remember them. These nutters then decided that 'recovering' those lost memories was a way to get people to face the trauma and overcome it, thereby solving their psychological problems.
    http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/...emory-syndrome

    The 'therapy' consisted of telling questions, over and over again, until the lost memories were 'recovered'. What none of those involved realised is that they were not 'recovering' memories. They were inventing false memories. This became a widespread movement. Many, many people became victims of the 'recovered memory syndrome'. There was an article in Scientific American on this topic, and a hair raising story. The following story was reported as being true.

    A young woman who visited a counsellor for assorted neurotic problems, was put through this recovered/invented memory process. She ended up 'remembering' her father, a Baptist minister, raping her numerous times, and making her pregnant twice, and forcing her twice to have abortions. A trial ensued and her father went to prison. Some years later, the young woman went to a doctor for an unrelated medical problem, and the doctor discovered that she was still a virgin! In due course, her father was released from prison, though with destroyed reputation and career shot to pieces. He forgave his daughter, but at the time of the writing, she still believed her 'recovered memories' and hated her father.

    The weirdest thing about all this is that proper empirical evidence shows that traumatic memories are never suppressed. In fact, they are among the strongest and clearest, and longest lasting memories people ever have.
    When I took psychology in highschool and college I remember reading about situations like this especially where children accuse caretakers of abuse. The prosecutors sometimes get so enthusiastic about "protecting" children that they agressively question the kids until the kids "remember" being abused. There have been near witch hunts caused by it. My own kids have told me things that intitially scared me thinking something had happened but I held back on over questioning them so that they didn't "remember" something that didnt happen. Even now I worry about how to investigate things without creating false memories.
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    Speaking badly about people after they are gone and jumping on the bash the band wagon must do very well for a low self-esteem.
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  23. #22  
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    I had a tonic clonic seizure the day after christmas. never had one before and don't know really what triggered it but my memory is shot to hell now. My memory was never great but now Neverfly is telling me about conversations we have had since I got home from the hospital that I don't remember having. I'm having trouble retaining memories for more than 15 minutes. But its random what I forget and what I remember. And I randomly remember that I don't remember stuff, if that makes any sense. It's like I suddenly become aware that I am missing a segment of time. Like I don't remember the drive home. And I don't remember posting the post above.

    Another confirmation to me that the mind is a product of the brain. I literally ceased to exist, mentally, during the seizure. I was in the grocery store looking at lunch meat and suddenly there were two paramedics at my feet and I was in the back of an ambulance. I don't know how much time I lost but during the seizure, my mind did not exist, so I did not exist. As far as I'm concerned, I was dead during the seizure. Only my body was alive, and just barely at that.

    oh apparently I ramble even more than I used to now.....
    Speaking badly about people after they are gone and jumping on the bash the band wagon must do very well for a low self-esteem.
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  24. #23  
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    My sympathy, sea gypsy.
    That sounds like something very nasty. My very best wishes for the maximum recovery.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    My sympathy, sea gypsy.
    That sounds like something very nasty. My very best wishes for the maximum recovery.
    I agree, it's very difficult, especially since I haven't gotten the fake UFO abduction set up, yet...
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  26. #25  
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    I really thought I had something to say here..........
    hmmmmmmmm
    uh,,,,,
    no,
    well, um,
    ...........
    hmmmmmm
    oh well

    maybe it'll come back to me
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  27. #26  
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    You know you got it bad when you go to the bathroom and you are sitting there and can't remember what you went in there for.
    Speaking badly about people after they are gone and jumping on the bash the band wagon must do very well for a low self-esteem.
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  28. #27  
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    long ago and far away

    I attended a lecture on memory
    wherein was said:
    "We've all had the experience of walking into a room, and standing there wondering why we went there"

    wow
    heavy sigh of relief
    (I had thought that I was the only one)
    misery does love company
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  29. #28  
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    same situation..sometimes it occurred to me.
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  30. #29  
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    Me as well. I've also hunted for things I had in my hand all along.

    Tom Rush - Remember Song - YouTube
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