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Concerto of Atlantis
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I've always had a very good memory. For example, if I owe someone even a dollar, I tend to remember it until I have paid it off. But most people I know tend to have terrible memories. Which got me thinking... why exactly do some people have 'bad' memories when others tend to have very good memories? Is it something that is conscious or does it work on a more subconscious level?

(As a sidenote: In my Creative Arts faculty (Predictably), they really push the idea that memory is unreliable and because of this, it's virtually impossible to know what is fact and what is not fact. :D )

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I've always had a very good memory. For example, if I owe someone even a dollar, I tend to remember it until I have paid it off. But most people I know tend to have terrible memories. Which got me thinking... why exactly do some people have 'bad' memories when others tend to have very good memories? Is it something that is conscious or does it work on a more subconscious level?

Long-term memory is a very complex subject, one that has neurological and epistemological components, among others. In general, focusing on that which is most directly under our own control, both clarity of thought, and inter-relating thoughts and ideas, are two essentials. A thought that is clear and distinct, one that is filed away connected to several related categories, is more easily retained than a fuzzy, hazy notion that just moves fleetingly out of the conscious mind. The subconscious is capable of making remarkable integrations, but what it can accomplish is delimited by the nature of that which it is fed.

Also, to take your simple example of remembering a debt: for one whose subconscious is on the premise that a debt is both a legal and moral commitment, and for one who does not characteristically suppress one's feelings, then to the degree that one has filed away the debt as connected to the premises that apply, and to the degree that there exists a natural "flow" between conscious and subconscious, then one should not be surprised of being "reminded" of the debt under a multitude of circumstances that touch upon how the debt was stored, and what meaning is attached.

(As a sidenote: In my Creative Arts faculty (Predictably), they really push the idea that memory is unreliable and because of this, it's virtually impossible to know what is fact and what is not fact.  :D )

Is that a fact? :D

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why exactly do some people have 'bad' memories when others tend to have very good memories?

I have the following list of possible causes of memory impairment:

deficiency of folic acid (B9)

deficiency of niacin (B3)

deficiency of omega-3 oils

deficiency of thiamin (B1)

deficiency of zinc

excess of copper 15 mg

aspartame (nutrasweet)

chronic sleep deficiency

mercury

I'm sure this list is very incomplete.

Probably deficiency of magnesium should be added.

Brain diseases and brain injuries.

Genetic differences between people.

Etc.

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Is that a fact?  :o

I'm not sure anymore. :D But seriously, it's like they go on this voyages of 'discovery' to find some new angle to attack the existence of objective reality with. Their newest approach seems to be to attack memory.

What you said about how memory makes a lot of sense. From personal experience, the more logic-oriented, rational individuals I have known have tended to have the best memories. Whereas just about everyone I've encountered in the Creative Arts faculty have had terrible memories. :P This is probably why they've concluded that because their memories are terrible, every memory - even one that is working at its potential must be terrible. Come to think of it... The naturalist approach to art is also very prevelent in the faculty...

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Harry Binswanger's work on psycho-epistemology has some interesting implications for memory improvement. Here's what I've gathered from it (off the top of my head, & just the basics). Memory is imprinted and accessed in a sort of web of connections. I think this is fairly easily established introspectively. Think about what happens when you daydream about past events: you might think of where you lived five years ago, then think of who you lived with, then think of a social event including the person you lived with, then think of another person who was there, then remember something funny they said which reminds you of some important news event from that time... etc.

The basic elements in memory preservation & access, psycho-epistemologically (i.e., putting aside innate biological issues) are the number of connections, the method of ordering, and the strength of the connections. In practice, this means: the degree to which you integrate or fail to integrate, the degree to which you think in essentials or don't, and the extent of your cognitive value-connections. Integration helps by creating new connections between cognitive items; thinking in fundamentals helps by creating connections between the *right* cognitive items, i.e. those which are most relevant to each other; and of course, if you regard something as important, you're more likely to remember it than if you regard it as trivial.

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I have the following list of possible causes of memory impairment:

deficiency of folic acid (B9)

deficiency of niacin (B3)

deficiency of omega-3 oils

deficiency of thiamin (B1)

deficiency of zinc

excess of copper 15 mg

aspartame (nutrasweet)

chronic sleep deficiency

mercury

I'm sure this list is very incomplete.

Probably deficiency of magnesium should be added.

Brain diseases and brain injuries.

Genetic differences between people.

Etc.

There are certainly physical problems which can cause one to have a bad memory (I have such a physical abnormality), but my own experience has taught me that with the knowledge and use of a proper epistemology, one can overcome many of these problems. It may take more work, and the use of various techniques that normal brain function doesn't require, but I've been able to overcome much of the mental aspects of my disability by such understanding (to the surprise of my neurologist).

One thing I still have trouble with, though, is the ability to remember words. I often struggle to remember the words I want to express a particular concept. I know what I want, I know that there is a specific word I want, and I know that I know the word, but it flits about my mind, refusing to be attached to the proper concept. There is great joy when it is found.

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One thing I still have trouble with, though, is the ability to remember words.  I often struggle to remember the words I want to express a particular concept.  I know what I want, I know that there is a specific word I want, and I know that I know the word, but it flits about my mind, refusing to be attached to the proper concept.  There is great joy when it is found.

Considering how well you do express yourself, I wonder if what you describe is actuallya problem. It may instead just be a reflection of your own increasing awareness of, and striving for, greater and greater clarity and precision in thought and words.

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I think drug use has a large effect on memory. People that drink a lot and or use other recreational drugs tend to have very poor memories. If the use is not prolonged and is stopped the memory seems to return. Considering how widespread the use of alchohol and drugs is these days, that could explain why a lot of people have poor memories. Combine that with poor diet and lack of sleep and you have a zombie-fest.

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Considering how well you do express yourself, I wonder if what you describe is actuallya problem. It may instead just be a reflection of your own increasing awareness of, and striving for, greater and greater clarity and precision in thought and words.

Stephen, your words are a wonderful reward! I do fairly well by writing because I can take my time. It is much different when I try to communicate directly. My speech is very halting because I constantly have to search for the words I want. I have a large vocabulary -- or I did when I was younger, before things got so bad. This problem becomes more pronounced when I am excited about what I am discussing (and I can get quite passionate!). My brain over reacts to any stimuli, douching my brain in chemicals, leaving me with nothing but a highly exagerated emotional response. That's when my mind just goes blank. Frustration is a charged emotion as it is, but it is amplified when I can't focus or concentrate. :dough:

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