(And I once thought that that post on selecting departments and advisors to Alena would have to be my longest ever on this forum...)
I was afraid I'd scared you off.
Oh, no. While it's an odd conversation (particularly in that I keep wondering how I could possibly not have discussed much of this with anyone before, and yet a lot of it I haven't, even with K, who knows more of it than most) and particularly odd to have in a public forum, this is just about my schedule. I'm online a lot, but whether I have the time to write out something lengthy fluctuates. (The primary components are general schedule-y stuff, and pain levels, but it's at least a quintic.) Obsessive grad student + 2-3 hours a day of physical training. And I habitually overschedule myself. (Right now I'm waiting for a meeting with my PI that was supposed to start an hour ago. I usually only write this much at the lab if I really need a break, but I feel like this kind of delay grants some license. It's not like I can start an experiment now... though I could be coding. Bah.)
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.
I will let you know. Though, again, neurobiologist, and before that biochem - not necessarily filters I have a good handle on.
...it isn't my experience that one form of recall precludes the others.
My brain would completely not work if it did. Especially these days, since I've grown to reply pretty heavily on association across different modalities.
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.
I must have been particularly incoherent (which isn't surprising, yesterday was at the high end for pain considering that I didn't go home early or anything) - sequence is the bit that's most broken for me. The only place that sequence really holds together on its own is in audio, and even that breaks down sometimes if there are sections that don't have strong logically implied sequence. And the index, and the spatial abstracts, aren't particularly sequential, at least on a general basis. So, say, if I remember that I read that chocolate had tooth decay reducing properties, and I want to figure out when I read it, the process is something like "okay, that was in a magazine, 'cause I can see that, and I'm guessing by the size and art style it was Ranger Rick, but not certain of that, and I was sitting on the northwest side of the round mahogany dining table, which means it was after we got that set of heirlooms, and the chairs had red seats - when did mom put those on? (anyhow, we're in the age 9-11 range here I think) and the table is covered in blue oilskin with small white flowers arranged in an alternating diamond pattern (and hey, the parquet was a lot less worn back then, wasn't it?) and the angle of the outdoor light suggests at least a month, probably six weeks, off of summer solstice one way or the other..."
*blink* Good gods, y'know, I've never tried to write one of those out. That's kind of horrifying. It's really fast in my head... and not words. And I guess this is what I mean when I say that visual isn't my primary modality, but I've come to use it a lot.
I think that's one of the reasons why being able to communicate mathematical ideas is sometimes difficult - I'm pretty verbal, but speach is really linear, and it's stuff that's not inherently linear. And I love higher dimensional modelling. I can usually make the translation if I've had a chance to think about it, but if I'm solving a novel problem or doing design work things get kind of dodgy. (And I tend to get really nauseatingly chipper and bounce on my toes a lot. There are people who enjoy working with me, but I really try to be sensitive to the fact that many more when exposed to this sort of thing want to run from the room. Like, say, the whole rest of the lab, when our advisor, K and I all get going...)
I am a field based learner, I believe. I need some kind of a conceptual hook, but there are many kinds that will do, though not all equally well. Once I've found a way into a topic, I'll tend to chew through whatever source I have to construct the abstracts... but the source material doesn't necessarily go away. It's slower to access though.
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 3x2. And I will not see the error. (I'm not hypersimplifying here: it kicks in with operations that small.)
Historically one of my big problems with math has been taking the time to work through the process, instead of just doing whatever work I needed (sometimes this means "stare at it") and then writing down the answer. At least now I really understand the need for a well defined process. If someone had given me Apostol's Calculus when I was, oh, ten, maybe, my life would likely be completely different. (Apostol has something like minor deity status in my world. He's teaching me to be a grown up mathematician. And he's doing it right, and he's completely rigorous and makes sense, and his expectations are kind of high. Or at least, in his book. It's amazing.)
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.
Hey, a lot of serious mathematicians suck at arithmetic.
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.
Gods, physics was always the worst for me, because they cared all about process, and my process was always not what they thought it should be, and they didn't really care about the answers, which sucked because that was the part I was good at. Though I did have more fun with it later, and I guess I do a fair bit of physics now.
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.
Ouch. Math is in my top three list of things to cry over, but for different reasons, I think.
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.
Thank you for that clue by four. (You mean that's unusual? Oh, darn, that would explain a lot... And that too. Why didn't this occur to me before?) (Actually, I know that - one of my early assimilated social rules is that people often like the product of my thinking, but they'd really rather be protected from the process.)
Oh, crap. That would really explain a lot.
My poor reticular formation!
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*)
Heh. I would kind of expect. (Though actually, I'm probably misguessing the context.)
(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.)
I seem to lose words to background noise pretty easily, but I can do conversations in crowds under most circumstances. I do have weirdly intermittant prospagnosia - I key a lot more off of voices and how people move.
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.
Um, I think I don't really have much of a reference point for what counts as normal here. (Though I thought it wasn't uncommon now for actors - who one presumes in effect train for such things - to pick up scripts like that now. The whole repetoir construct is probably different, though.)
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.
Well, necessary is an interesting one. I have good onboard graphing software. For certain classes of equations, or certain classes of interactions, it's pretty easy to project how things will interact and what they'll do. Or any variety of stuff of that general sort. I don't think it would work so well if I didn't have pretty good working memory. (This is both a lot of fun, sometimes, and one of the things I'm most likely to end up in trouble over. And academia is weird - people are more tolerant of a lot of my intellectual oddities, but the oddities are also a lot more visible.)
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.)
Synthesis and memory both. (A friend who does a lot of studies on COMT is of the opinion that the reason the 108 valine to methionine mutation is increasing in certain northern european populations is the memory link, despite the increased risk of schizophrenia. And I'm assuming you saw the articles that were circulating recently linking schizophrenia to both creativity and depression?)
And that makes a fair bit of intuitive sense to me. These things really aren't a problem for me in my life. But I suspect that's "I've done a good job adapting around them." And I did have a meditative practice from when I was, oh, six or so. Yeah, I was a weird kid, but there might be a big dose of being a weird and very self-protective kid. I'm good at emotional stability (and neurochemically blessed, but there's a lot of practice involved, too - and it's when I'm upset that the thickness of memories makes things seem most haunted). I'm good at not being distracted. (Um. Not everyone who knows me would agree, but I think what I say is correct if not necessarily complete.) But I can kind of feel the potential for being overwhelmed by my own mind. Not a frightening thing, I mean, this is home, I live here, but I don't think it would necessarily take that much to perturb the system into unmanageability.
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.
It's only been the last ten years or so that it's even occurred to me that there might be something unusual about my memory. (I know that sounds like a while, but it's been a busy ten years.) And I've spent more time thinking about optimization strategies, or how some of the ars memoria work relates to some of the modelling, and suchlike, than wondering whether it was classifiable by standard criteria. (I did live with a person who described themself as eidetic, and I did wonder a few times that their memory didn't seem to be that different than mine, really, but I didn't really push the thought.) But whatever goes on there, it's pretty clearly not the oddest thing about my brain and, yeah, well. I did make a general decision some time ago that what I did with it was far more important than what it all was. Probably not something to push to extremes, but I like doing things.
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.
Well, from pure circuit standpoint that makes sense. I suppose something got put in backwards in my head. I've rather suspected that for years.
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.
Funny you should mention that. Skunk (chou you) was the vocabulary word for the day a couple of days back during forms practice with my elderly chinese neighbor. And yes, they have them around Xi'an, too. (A skunk came frollicking through our practice ground. And then we had to assure eachother that we understood the hazards.)
Though repeated and yet unrelated sensory stimulous isn't exactly a new phenomenon. Nor is superstition confined to humans. (Or dreaming. We have evidence that even slugs dream. Of eating. Which could, come to think of it, be a reinforcement and strengthening of synaptic connections...)