Constructive memory

Constructive Memory. Some Proves for its Plausibility. Reasonings

Flush Bulbs memory

As it seems from the experimental results, there is no much correspondence between the confidence and lucidity of remembered flushbulbs memory and their actual authenticity. People blend different memories, overlap time slices and no matter how vivid their memory is, there is no correlation between that vividness and the validity of the flash bulbs.

Flash bulbs recollections are interesting phenomena. Prior emergence of cognitive science and its research their validity has been irrefutable. Nowadays man just ask himself: “If I can not believe to my memory, i.e. to myself, what should believe in?” Well, from the cognitive perspective the answer would be: “Trust in the experimental data and statistics” – not very consoling answer, is it? …

Episodic memory remembering

As the experimental research shows, the accuracy of memory trace retrieval from the episodic memory is in a literal sense rare exception, but not the rule. If the reproduction of some information is seldom, omission of details, simplifications and generalizations are observed. In the case of frequent reproduction very often the details fall in certain stereotype, memorizing is stable, but again there are generalizations, equalization to well known stereotypes, inherent to ones culture, understandings, moral, intellect and so on. When the information is new for the subject, while recalling, he tends to transform it to known facts. When the information is familiar to the subject, he memorizes it much easier and more accurately. In most cases there is rationalization and reduction of the real data. Names, phrases and events are easily changed so that they appear in forms current within the social group to which the subject belongs. All the transformations, changes, rationalizations, abbreviations and blending occur stronger with the passage of time after the information introducing.

During remembering one has tendency to transform, to elaborate in the direction of accepted conventional representations. Episodic retrieval leads to simplification of the data, to reducing of the small details to the grosser ones.

What do we actually remember? Do we remember the last three hours in details? Can we reconstruct accurately ever your movement, feeling and thought? No – we can not. Our memory is so fragile and insecure that one seldom can trust it completely.

Associative construction – constructing non presented in the list items by unconscious association

Here the article shows similar to the above stated facts – one tends to transform the memory traces. In the case of associative constructions the subject makes unconscious associations relating different attributes of the information, thus creating non existing new elements and structures.

One example: You are walking in the late evening dask. On the street you see something long and moving. In your mind flashes the notion – this is a snake! When you approach, you realize it was just a little branch, waving from the wind.

Memory illusions, psychoanalytic discoveries and hypnoses as proof for constructive properties of the memory

Most of the previously discussed properties of the constructive memory: blending, transformations, reductions, simplifications, abbreviations, rationalizations, etc. – as a matter of fact might be called memory illusions, because they represent the data distorted as the illusions do.

Psychoanalyses has made great research and reached the same conclusion as the cognitive science – the autobiographic memories are actually highly incorrect and mixed up with fantasies, blending, induced by suggestions memories and interferences (retroactive). Hypnosis could not resolve these problems, as many hoped. Induced through hypnosis memories were to big extent false and had the constructive properties mentioned above.

As we see, through many various experiments, different researches observe the constructive properties of our memory. Why our memory is in such pitiful undeveloped state? What makes as such imperfect creatures? So far no one can answer correctly to these questions, regardless his scientific titles and knowledge.

Metacognition in memory illusions evoking

Another form of memory illusions have been studied by the scientists in the field of decision making. For example, the availability heuristic is such illusion. Another interesting memory illusion is based on the metacognitive phenomena déjà vu (I have already seen it)) and jamais vu. The first one is metacognitive illusion making someone believe he has experienced something. In reality he never did. Jamais vu (I have never seen) is metacognitive illusion making one believe he has never experienced something that he actually experienced.

Metacognition is exceptionally interesting phenomena. As it is depicted, it is the ability one to observe his own conscious processes, i.e. thinking, feeling and actions – thinking about the thinking. My experience shows that it is not only thinking of higher order, but it is that implicit center of our cognition, the center of our consciousness, the central pillar to which every one of us clings in the life storms. Metacognition is widely explored in the eastern meditative systems. Unlike cognitive scientific approach, which observes from besides and collects data, the meditative systems delve into the middle of the studied subject, as the main instrument used of them is the mind itself. In that field, cognitive science is less than baby …

Reconstruction and confabulation

Confabulation can be regarded as exaggerated example of the normal memory illusions and distortions. Confabulation is striking example what our memory could be if deteriorates just a bit.

Constructive memory study is in its beginning yet. As the researches show, this field has a bright future. We are more and more convinced that our memory is not just a stable store for information with secure retrieval of memory traces. Unfortunately it is not so. Perhaps with the development of the human – computer’s interaction, our memory will be greatly helped by some electronic devices in the future. So far the research in the field of constructive memory reveals the truth as it is: our memory is imperfect, insecure, easily distorted and deceived… May be with our development as a species this will change one day! Hopefully sooner!


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Author: Orlin Baev, cognitive psychologist, cognitive behavioral psychotherapist and cognitive hypnotherapist

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