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MaxE
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06 Apr 2019, 4:30 am

Every English-speaking person has heard the expression "senior moment". It's common, past a certain age, to "lose" words, in particular people's names.

I have found that, when I have a senior moment, I am generally able to recall that thing over a period of time. The length of time since having last thought of it seems to correlate with the amount of time required to recall it.

This week I happened to think of a man I can recall meeting only once, but had been a friend of my mother's when she was single. I hadn't thought of him for a long time. Oddly, I have no trouble remembering his sister's first name and (married) last name. It seemed to take a day or two, then all of a sudden his first name came back to me. Shortly after that, the ethnic derivation of his last name, but only that. Then after another day, the first letter of that name, and shortly after that the name itself (actually a relatively common German vocabulary word although I haven't heard it elsewhere in the US).

I find this process fascinating, particularly in regard to how the brain works in general — how different from a computer. The process actually seems related more to the length of time over which facts have been accumulated than to the brain "slowing down" with age.


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Catana
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06 Apr 2019, 8:01 am

I'm really not sure it has anything to do with aging. Or not entirely. I've been that way all my life, and I attribute it to poor short-term memory. I'm 82, so I do have a pretty good history to look back on and make comparisons. It's possible that the tendency will increase as you get older, I wouldn't totally deny the effects of aging.



Max1951
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07 Apr 2019, 9:13 am

MaxE wrote:
Every English-speaking person has heard the expression "senior moment". It's common, past a certain age, to "lose" words, in particular people's names.

I have found that, when I have a senior moment, I am generally able to recall that thing over a period of time. The length of time since having last thought of it seems to correlate with the amount of time required to recall it.

This week I happened to think of a man I can recall meeting only once, but had been a friend of my mother's when she was single. I hadn't thought of him for a long time. Oddly, I have no trouble remembering his sister's first name and (married) last name. It seemed to take a day or two, then all of a sudden his first name came back to me. Shortly after that, the ethnic derivation of his last name, but only that. Then after another day, the first letter of that name, and shortly after that the name itself (actually a relatively common German vocabulary word although I haven't heard it elsewhere in the US).

I find this process fascinating, particularly in regard to how the brain works in general — how different from a computer. The process actually seems related more to the length of time over which facts have been accumulated than to the brain "slowing down" with age.


Eric Kandel detailed how he explored the chemistry of memory within the neuron, in his autobiography. He experimented with a giant sea slug called Aplasia, because the neurons were very large. He watched what happened within the neuron cell when he created a memory of an electrical shock in the slug. Basically it's a loop of chemical synthesis. Of course memory is also dependent on the connections between neurons and and how they change in Hebbian learning.

Kandel's popularized account chronicling his life and research, In Search of Memory: The Emergence of a New Science of Mind.

I have been studying the origins of consciousness for better than a decade now. I have my own somewhat cloudy theory about how consciousness develops. It is simply a process of 1. remembering and 2. comparing current experience with similar remembered experience. We are born capable of learning, but knowing nothing. B F Skinner called it a Tabula Rasa or Blank Slate. Life experience writes a personality on this blank slate. Consciousness comes in many sizes. A neonate is not as conscious as a 5 day old and a 50 year old is more conscious that a 5 year old. The size of one's consciousness increases with life experience.

If you'd like to talk about how consciousness works, PM me. Warning though, I tend to perseverate on the subject :)



Max1951
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07 Apr 2019, 9:28 am

I've read that when you are trying to remember a fact that just won't come to mind, you should stop trying to remember and go about your business. Your subconscious is still working on the retrieval and will give you the answer when it retrieves the memory. When it does, it seems like the answer plops right out of interstellar space, to a question that you had ceased thinking about. Personally, I believe that this is because connections between neurons were pruned in the forgetting process, and the chemicals have to be re synthesized to rebuild the connection to the memory.



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17 Apr 2019, 5:54 pm

I've also been like that my entire life. I've learned not to try hard to remember things, because that rarely works. Instead, I just wait a bit and *almost* always whatever I want to recall just pops into my head. For years I've told friends to remember this, in case they every hear anyone wondering if I have memory loss. It's not memory loss, it's just the way my memory has always worked.

What I've noticed since I've been in my 50s is that if my regular routines are disrupted, I'm more likely to forget to do things. I will remember to do the task after a short while but then it's out of order (according to the routine I'm used to) and my stress levels can spike. Too many of those instances too close together can lead to a meltdown.


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blazingstar
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26 May 2019, 7:31 pm

Max1951 wrote:
I've read that when you are trying to remember a fact that just won't come to mind, you should stop trying to remember and go about your business. Your subconscious is still working on the retrieval and will give you the answer when it retrieves the memory. When it does, it seems like the answer plops right out of interstellar space, to a question that you had ceased thinking about. Personally, I believe that this is because connections between neurons were pruned in the forgetting process, and the chemicals have to be re synthesized to rebuild the connection to the memory.


I have had that experience in which things come to me, poof! Not only memories, but also in learning. As a pattern learner, I am totally unaware of the process. When my mind is done processing, I suddenly "know" something.


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Max1951
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27 May 2019, 8:45 am

blazingstar wrote:
Max1951 wrote:
I've read that when you are trying to remember a fact that just won't come to mind, you should stop trying to remember and go about your business. Your subconscious is still working on the retrieval and will give you the answer when it retrieves the memory. When it does, it seems like the answer plops right out of interstellar space, to a question that you had ceased thinking about. Personally, I believe that this is because connections between neurons were pruned in the forgetting process, and the chemicals have to be re synthesized to rebuild the connection to the memory.


I have had that experience in which things come to me, poof! Not only memories, but also in learning. As a pattern learner, I am totally unaware of the process. When my mind is done processing, I suddenly "know" something.


I think that I'm learning Spanish like that. I'm not studying Spanish, yet I run into it on television, the internet, and IRL when I try to pick out words I understand, when Spanish speakers are conversing near me.



Sandpiper
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29 May 2019, 12:08 am

I've had a problem with "losing" individual words my whole life. Names are certainly a problem for me at times but the words I lose are equally likely to be words that are commonly used every day.

I remember it happening a lot when I was at school. I would just come to a grinding halt mid sentence because a single common word seemed to have gone missing from my brain. I knew what the rest of the sentence would be but I couldn't continue because of the missing word.

It still happens now which is somewhat annoying when I am in the middle of a safety critical conversation at work. As a work around nowadays I usually start the sentence again with slightly different phrasing so the missing word isn't needed. Obviously this doesn't work with names!


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