Home > Uncategorized > Weekly QUEST Discussion Topics, Jan 20

Weekly QUEST Discussion Topics, Jan 20

QUEST Discussion Topics Jan 20

This week we will start by answering any questions people have left over from the overview lectures from the last two weeks. So if you have concerns about that material jot them down and lets hash them out. The Second topic will be Memory. There have been several questions about what we mean by Working memory and long term memory. We will frame our discussion around three recent Scientific American articles.

1.) A Feeling for the Past – Emotion engraves the brain with vivid recollections but cleverly distorts your brain’s record of what really took place …So-called flashbulb memories actually fade considerably even though, paradoxically, they seem so vivid that we hold a misguided confidence in their fidelity … Putting a positive spin on a bad situation—a technique called cognitive reappraisal—can bothenhance accuracy in emotional memories and diminish their negative overtones …Happy memories are susceptible to distortion, too. We tend to recall fewer perceptual details of pleasant events, however, than of troublesome ones…what distinguishes flashbulb memories is “this sense of enhanced vividness and inflated confidence that we have in the accuracy, this sense that I will never forget ‘X.’”… For one thing, emotion is selective in how it enhances memory. Experts noticed long ago the “weapon focus effect”…Instead older adults appear to actively manage their emotions by paying less attention to negative things…How sleep meddles with memories, however, is complex…Another potential way to enhance accuracy in emotional memories while also damping down their negative overtones is to put a positive spin on a bad situation—a technique called cognitive reappraisal…
2.) Totaling Recall: manipulating / erasing memories – decades scientists believed that long-term memories were immutable—unstable for a few hours and then etched into the brain for good. Research now suggests that recalling a memory causes it to revert temporarily to an insecure state, in which the recollection can be added to, modified, even erased…possibility of deleting, or at least muting, parts of human memory with drugs or targeted therapies…To create, or consolidate, stable long-term memories, the brain must synthesize specific proteins in the hours after events occur…brief window before the memory is “reconsolidated,” it is susceptible to perturbation. “We used to think the memories we had were pictures of the original event. Now we know that it is the last version of the memory because each time we retrieve it, it changes a little bit,… Blocking the actions of the enzyme PKMzeta in rats wiped out the animals’ recollections of the event…
3.) Trying to Forget – Solomon Shereshevsky could recite entire speeches, word for word, after hearing them once. In minutes, he memorized complex math formulas, passages in foreign languages and tables consisting of 50 numbers or nonsense syllables. The traces of these sequences were so durably etched in his brain that he could reproduce them years later…weight of all the memories, piled up and overlapping in his brain, created crippling confusion. S could not fathom the meaning of a story, because the words got in the way…The problem with our memories is not that nothing comes to mind—but that irrelevant stuff comes to mind…attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are also more likely to be among the forgetless (to coin a term). In short, memory—and forgetting—can shape your personality…reported that instructions to forget some learned items could enhance memory for others. Forgetting is therefore not a sign of an inferior intellect— but quite the opposite. The purpose of forgetting, he wrote, is to prevent thoughts no longer needed from interfering with the handling of current information…There’s a huge range in how effective people are at forgetting…

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