Tuesday, March 17, 2015

New Results in the Study of Memory

It is unclear what to make of this morning's report on memory research filed by BBC News Science Reporter Jonathan Webb. It was definitely helpful that Maria Wimber, the University of Birmingham research whose results were being discussed, went to some length to emphasize that human memory did not follow the store-and-retrieve paradigm of computer memory. When she talked about memory "traces," she seemed to suggested that these were "trails" left by a dynamic process, possibly the way that indentations in the snow indicate not just a path that had been trod but even further details, such as the pace at which that path was traversed. Nevertheless, we must also recognize that the experiment that was discussed in Webb's article, involving recall of photographs of Marilyn Monroe and Albert Einstein, was more than a little artificial. Understanding the making of music is probably a more useful domain in which we may come to understand the dynamics of memory, but it is likely to take some time before we can collect data for such a complex setting.

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