What are the principles underlying Memory?

Though sometimes the Ancient Greeks in the process of understanding the essence of memory introduced not such real theories about its construction, they realized that two underlying principles ensure perfect memory. These are imagination and associations. So, how each of them benefits the remembering process?

  • Introduction

  • Though sometimes the Ancient Greeks in the process of understanding the essence of memory introduced not such real theories about its construction, they realized that two underlying principles ensure perfect memory. These are imagination and associations.
  • Principles underlying Memory

  • Imagination provides the creation and development of the separate parts of memory and associations provide the connection between those different parts so that they can be a source for each other. Now let’s try to remember something, for example, the favorite work of our favorite singer or musician and we will notice that before remembering the name we do some steps. First, we remember the situation where we learned or used the name of that work, then we reach to the process of learning or using, remember and pronounce it. For example, we remember us sitting in front of the computer, then the moment of reading the name. And this process also recalls some new moments in our memory connected to that name. These moments are associations. Now let’s imagine that we are reading about an event (be it a book, news, or something else). During the process of reading some images are formed in our mind, due to which that event remains in our memory as the combinations of mental images, which afterward if needed we can reproduce. The brighter and clearer those images are the more easily we can remember them. Here our imagination works. These processes happen so quickly that we unconsciously skip them, but if we try to pay attention to them continually (encoding, storing, reproducing) we will gradually realize that they are happening and will take them under the conscious control. We can also mention that mnemonic devices, which are required to store something in memory and to reproduce them later very quickly, are built on this basis, about which we will yet speak.
  • Associations

  • According to their origin associations can be of two kinds intentional (which happen without our will) and unintentional (which occur with our will).
  • Unintentional associations

  • Unintentional associations happen unconsciously with the influence of external conditions or as Daniel Hume describes as a result of “external coincidences.” “You never think of slipping on the pavement, but when it happens, and you get the corresponding associations you will remember about it for a long time appearing in that kind of situations”, - said Danielle Lapp.
  • Intentional associations

  • It is not difficult to guess that when unintentional associations occur regardless of us, without our own influence, then intentional associations occur with our will, and it happens either unconsciously or consciously. For example, during the process of thinking about some memories, we can create associations about other memories or about newly formed mental images, which we usually do unconsciously. But, for example, when we listen to music, and at the same time we intentionally remember any positive event that happened to us, then we create an association linked with that music and that positive memory, but now we do it consciously. To be more practical let’s introduce three methods due to which we can create associations between two or more events. 1. Analogical method: this allows us to create associations between two events through the similarities existing in them, and these events don’t need to be identical. For example, associating somebody’s blue eyes with the sea through the analogical method, you create an association between blue eyes and the sea and when seeing the sea you are likely to remember the blue eyes of that person and consequently you will also remember that person. 2. Differential method: in this case, the contrasts existing in things or events are used as connecting links. This example can somehow be surprising, but it will clearly express the whole essence of this method. Let’s imagine that you have met a girl or a woman whose name is Pretty, but you think she is ugly. I guess that you will never forget her name because you have already created an association through the contrast existing between her name and appearance which is rather impressive. 3. Grouping method: To use this method we need at least three events or things, but to understand its productivity we need a large number of events or ideas. For example, we should remember our shopping list which includes this kind of foods: cucumber, tomato, green pepper, strawberry, apple, bread, eggplant, basil, cookie, tarragon, peach, watercress croissant, watermelon. Not let’s classify them in groups; 1. Vegetables: Cucumber, tomato, green pepper, eggplant 2. Fruit: Strawberry, apple, peach, watermelon 3. Greens: Basil, tarragon, watercress 4. Bakery products: Bread, cookie, croissant. With this example, we just wanted to give you a notion about grouping method, and you can include in this list as many things as you wish. The problem is that our brain likes categorized things and it works better when it deals with things which are in a particular order rather than in a chaotic state, creating associations between the name of the group (such as vegetables) and the components of that group (such as cucumber, tomato and so on). By the way, you can also think and find your own methods of creating associations.
  • Imagination

  • At first sight, we may think that we don’t need any necessary explanation for this phenomenon and all of us know what it is because it seems very simple. But hold on… Is it? Let’s check There is a widespread opinion that imagination and logic are opposite poles, and the development of one of them influences negatively on the functions of the other. That is to say that if the imagination is improved logic suffers, and this statement which can be a virus for the mind makes human mental field filled with false and unreal mental images and with a particular sequence of those images, which damage person, taking him from the reality. And as we know, logic builds reality. There are lots of details though, but let’s not forget the purpose of the book and leave the discussion of those details for another case. Now we will mention a significant fact according to which logic and imagination don’t contradict each other and can co-operate with each other, and this seems to be the right version. The descriptions of imagination may differ depending on the context. For this case we can bring this explanation: imagination is one of the components of our mental system, through which we can influence on the things (views, voices, e.g.) existing in our mind (change their shape, link each other and so on).
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