Where's a cut tag when I need one? Sorry about the length here. (And coming back to this after the general conversation has cheerfully cavorted elsewhere.)
I was afraid I'd scared you off.
Thank you - actually the two you link to are some of the ones I stumbled across. I was mostly wondering if there was a particularly good book or some such - I can hit the primary literature (in my copious free time - and yeah, since at this point my hobbies have more or less taken over my life, that's not really a complaint) and maybe there are some decent reviews, but darn it would be nice if their were a treatment with both breadth and depth.
I dunno, But if you find one that somebody with a Scientific American
-level grasp of neurochemistry can manage, I'd love to read it.
The case being referred to was one of the Russian case studies, and it was of an adult. The professor was actually making kind of the opposite point - that this person had to do a lot of replaying their own memories to find things, and that integrated knowledge is really more efficient. What I took from it was a little different because I was filtering it through my own experience - I guess it's possible that the integration bit would be a problem for some people* but I was mostly taken by the similarities to my experience trying to find things.
...it isn't my experience that one form of recall precludes the others.
Actually, if anything, at this point my abstracted memory is efficient enough that I have a hell of a time remembering specific concrete detail. OTOH, my learning process is extremely bottom up: I have to start with practical applications and work to theory for the theory to make any sense to me. I think this is a manifestation of the intuitive/kinesthetic thing: my brain is not good at specific pieces of data in isolation. However, if I can understand the system
, then the individual processes become intuitively obvious.
It sounds to me, by contrast, as if you are highly sequential. Which I think pretty much puts us at polar opposites for thinking styles, which is kind of really neat.
Shapes and patterns and motion sounds a bit like my spatial abstracts, though they've generally been fairly closely tied to my mathematical aptitude (and also my difficulties discussing math with many people, though I'm doing a lot better with this. It is odd - generally the verbal capacity is pretty resilient, but if I'm doing intense enough math or algorithm work it almost hurts to shift over and try to talk about it in English.) Do you do abstracted mathematical relationships, but not specific arithmetical ones?
It's complicated. I do well with geometry, for example, because I can hold the whole system in my head. With mathematics, I hae a series of issues. One is that unless you have a Nashian brain that does it all for you automagically, it's not generally recommended to work complex sequences of operations as an apprehended gestalt. But my brain gestalts or synthesizes *everything*. In addition to that, I have the dyscalculia thing, which means that it's perfectly possible for me to see 3+2, think 3+2, and write down the answer to 3x
2. And I will not see the error. (I'm not hypersimplifying here: it kicks in with operations that small.)
So I can work a formula, follow the steps in the correct order (which already takes maximum concentration for me), and still get the wrong answer because I made a first-grade mistake.
Historically, I've done a lot better in physics, because you can *tell* by inspection when the answer makes no damned sense, and go back and look for mistakes or re-work the problem until it does make sense. Also, I had some success a year or so back in teaching myself algebra, because if I got the wrong answer I just reworked the damned problem until I got the right one, or until I located my error.
Also, I get anxiety attacks when confronted with mathematical problems, which is probably based on the fact that I didn't manage to get diagnosed with a learning disability until after my fourth year of college.
When you say specialized form of recall... is this mostly that it's closer to a raw sensory stream rather than abstracted information? (For me, for the sensory stream to persist best - and definitely for it to be indexed well - it needs to be kind of wrapped together with integrated matrices.) Or the tying to a single sense? Or...?
Well, the raw sensory stream thing is LLI--lowered latent inhibition--which is linked to (surprise) autism spectrum disorders and, well, genius. Basically, it means the subject's filtering software doesn't work so well, so they notice more than most people. Which, if you have the processing power to work it, turns you into Sherlock Holmes--or Richard Feynman. If you don't, it can send you into withdrawal.
Generally, eideticism is described as not being more information, but rather longer access to it. The ability to hold the clear image in your head as if it were still before your eyes. Apparently, visual eidetics will scan their memory of an image with their eyes to find a piece of data. (This also bears some resemblance to techniques of guided memory used in cognitive interviews, where associations are used to bring back forgotten bits of data.)
(You may see some of this information come back in a future episode of SU. *g*)
(LLI: I do not have this one. I don't think. Unless it's why I can't hold conversations in crowds. Most people seem to be able to pick out a conversation stream in a crowded room, but... not so much. Otoh, you know the gorilla basketball thing? Those never fool me, unless they require noticing that a person has been replaced by another person, because I am fairly faceblind.)
Though is that sort of thing that uncommon even now? I think of all the people I have known who could quote at least most of The Hitchhiker's Guide from memory - possibly a less laudable trait, but still.
That's repeated exposure, though. These guys could pick up a play in a day or two. We just don't train for the facility any more.
One of the things I really enjoyed about Carruther's book is her analysis of how many of the things that we tend to attribute to creativity were attributed in the middle ages to memory. There tends to be a bit of a cultural bias now against "learning by rote" but there isn't anything about having a capacious memory and flexible working memory that enslaves one to the past.
Yeah. Also, it's a lot less necessary now. You can get the book out of the library or off the internet again any time you want.
Some of this synthesis stuff may also share genetic code with schizophrenia (yay) and even better, sometimes they may manifest the same way. (Nash's brain apparently got him information about the aliens the same way it got him information about the maths, which is why it took him so long to learn to sort out which was which. The fact that he did eventually learn to parse one from the other seems to me a testament both to neuroplasticity and cognitive tactics. And, you know, the man's own stubborn.)
So how do most people experience memory?
Damned if I know. It sounds to me like you've got more going on than eideticism, frankly--that sounds like a pretty hefty information steam.
Traumatic memory seems from recent studies to be stored as a metaphorical pyramid, of sorts. Basically, it gets encoded as an eidetic image even in a non-eidetic brain, and associations can recall that traumatic memory as vividly as if it were currently occurring. So say I hand you a rose and then slap you hard enough to knock a tooth out. The next time I hand you a rose, your brain will associate that with the slap, and send a strong signal to your body to get the hell out of this incredibly hazardous situation. That signal will include a "flashbulb" memory of what happened the last time somebody handed you a rose and you failed to run.
This is adaptive in a world where the smell of a skunk is followed by chemical warfare, and your body wants to not encounter that second skunk. It is NOT adaptive in a world where the song that was playing when your lover left you could come on the radio at any time.