I was stunned to realise the other day that our memory is
spacialised. This seems important, particularly in the field of
education and secondary school teaching, the area where I work. It
appears our brain only remembers something because it takes a
snapshot of the place we were physically looking at when we
encountered whatever. If we weren't looking consciously at some thing
we are much less likely to have a memory imprint.
You are sitting reading and realise that you are hungry. A biscuit
appears increasingly necessary. You get up eventually and go to the
kitchen but by the time you arrive there, you have forgotten what you
got up to do. You are probably thinking deeply about what you have
The cure? Walk back to the place where you had the thought (assuming
of course you can at least remember where you were when you had the
thought) and the thought pops back into your head. Try it.
Try this fascinating experiment:
get a roomful of people (a school classroom full of kids is great for
this) and run this algorithm:
inform them that they are going to be given a list of words to
remember. The words will be spoken once only so they are going to
have to concentrate like crazy to be in a position to spruke the full
list at the end. Part of this involves them not taking their eyes off
you for one second. Then - without telling them this was going to
happen - stand in a different part of the room as you slowly deliver
each word. Make use of as many different places as there are words on
the list, say a maximum of ten words.
Then, say "It's a race to see who can write out the list correctly
first". You now stand stock still.
Every single head in the room will be seen turning this way and that
in a frenzy as each brain looks at the place where it knows a
"snapshot" is stored spatially. In effect they are now consciously
looking at nothing much because you are standing still. The point
appears to be that it seems to be the physical act of recalling as
much data about the *environment* that forms part of the snapshot as
the actual datum to be recalled.
Is memory something you can wind in reverse, like Hermoine does with
her watch in Harry Potter?
Anyone like to comment on this effect?
Creativity usually means finding a way of being right by being wrong
somehow. Being right
by being right is not a creative act. It is mannerist at best,
plagiarism at worst. - Kim Jones
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