Something I found very interesting in these past four chapters was the phenomena of hyperthymestic syndrome. This is where one has a memory far superior than the norm. One with hyperthymestic syndrome can remember literally everything that they have experienced. They can also remember which day of the week corresponds with a given date. However, these people also suffer from remembering depressing or traumatizing events very vividly, and being unable to forget them. While to one without this syndrome, it seems incredibly "cool" because it appears so impossible and amazing. However, is it possible that it could also be a curse?
nyckl008: October 2011 Archives
How memories are stored is a mysterious phenomena that I have always questioned. Most people don't take the time to think of how amazing it is that a taxi driver can get you to any destination with only an address. Most people don't know that this ability to memorize surroundings is directly correlated with the size of the hippocampus.
In the movie, "50 First Dates," a character suffers from short term memory loss. The character, 10 second Tom, has a short term memory that lasts ten seconds. There is no clear answer as to why short term memory occurs, or if it is a result of damage to the hippocampus.
Memory has always amazed me. It is incredible how memories are stored and saved over time. Whenever I start to ponder this phenomenon, how memories are stored, I can't help but get the image of Dumbledore's pensieve from the Harry Potter series. When I read about the hippocampus in the third chapter, I was instantly drawn in.
I always thought that taxi drivers just studied maps all the time...It hadn't occurred to me that their brains could actually be proportioned differently. However, it is still inconclusive as to if their time and experience driving causes the enlarged hippocampi or if those with larger hippocampi naturally fall to the taxi driving profession because it is a natural "talent."
Another aspect of memory that has always intrigued me is short term memory loss. When I was reading about the hippocampus, I was under the impression that it was only in charge of one's spatial memory, or remembering where things are around them in their environment. However, damage to the hippocampus can result in inabilities to form new memories. I first became interested in this concept when I saw the movie, "50 First Dates," where there is a woman who suffered an accident and from then on could not form new memories: she relived the same date for the rest of her life. In this movie, there is a man named Tom who has a short term memory of 10 seconds. Here is a link to a short clip showing his condition: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jk7WuvNKe_g
However, the text doesn't explicitly say that this is the cause of short term memory. One hypothesis stated that the hippocampus stores memories briefly before they are transferred to the cortex to be stored permanently. In this case, it could be the cause to short term memory loss. However, another hypothesis says that memories are directly stored in the cortex and merely strengthen over time. This hypothesis does not suggest that damage to the hippocampus results in short term memory loss. Therefore, I do not yet have a clear answer to my ever-growing interest in memory, and short term memory loss, but I am excited to learn further and hopefully get my questions answered.