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  
been reading.

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?

Kim Jones

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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