Are Our Memories Accurate?

philosoraptor
5 min readNov 16, 2022

The brain has a very special way that memories are imprinted into one’s consciousness. This process manifests by creating networks of energy which travel through the neuron structure of the nervous system, as an impulse that travels extremely fast. The hippocampus is associated with recording episodic memories, which are related to sequential events, personal experiences and the associated values connected to such experiences. The neural networks specifically are strings of neurons that connect to certain energetic feelings in the body and the mind; these can cause action, emotional responses and are deeply related to physical activation of matter through energetic or chemical fluctuations. For example, if one feels pain a neural network has been activated either from an external stimuli into the brain, or the brain detects a potential emotional pain and it relates back to the body; the former of material being interpreted to the brain like stepping on a nail and the latter being a strong trauma from the past causing a discomfort in an external situation. Both are neural responses related to an external situation, however the stimuli themselves have a different relationship to the psyche and likewise material world.

Through these definitions formulated, asking whether memories are accurate or not is besides the question. Memory is then a function of response and conditioning to environmental responses dependent on an implicitly philosophical, therefore subjective interpretive structure represented by the neural networks of the brain materially; knowledge of the brain can be helpful if the concepts are digested with context, but placement of one’s instincts with personal experience cannot be substituted by materialistic fundamentalism.

Memory can become distorted depending on whether a person is confident in their ability to absorb, interpret and qualify an experiential knowledge. In most research trying to qualify experiential knowledge, a subjective questionnaire is used to gather data: a study on the topic concluded such; “metamemory assessments appear to have little value in estimating individual performance in eyewitness free recall settings. With reference to utility in the applied context, this finding suggests that dismissing or questioning the credibility of eyewitness reports based on self-assessments of memory capacity may be unwarranted. Second, at the group level individuals with higher self-ratings of memory capacity had a slightly stronger confidence-accuracy calibration. This is initial evidence that free recall confidence is a better predictor of accuracy among individuals that are not very doubtful about their own memory perform-ance. Third, we find stability in confidence and over/under-confidence measures across eyewitness free recall and other memory tests of similar domain” (Saraiva, 2020).

Psychological research techniques and their attempts to numericalize experiential information, according to such conclusions is ineffectual and at best shallow. Accuracy of complicated events are dependent on interpretation and even in questionnaires: the questions themselves have a selection bias, in what is considered more real, accurate and most of all what is forgotten to be asked. This is an inherent philosophical conundrum; of what is left out, deceived even by the researchers, what interpretations are potentially true but dismissed or if the researchers themselves are forgetters of accuracy in any given investigations of the brain, therefore mind’s relationship to matter. Working memory and long-term memory concepts, in relation to matter, are no different nor are they unphilosophical. The two are differentiated by being pressed into the matter itself or being a temporary activation of a particular network; working memory associated with the latter and long term being the former definition. This is a philosophy since it assumes that a material imprint or formulation of networks are more long acting than an activation of a certain network, however the concepts do overlap and ties back to the long debate of nature vs. nurture, solid vs. liquid/gas, and even chicken or egg.

These debates are not trivial and real from fake, cause and effect is a daring intellectual work that has puzzled thinkers for most of history but in this position, it is not outside other wisdoms. Understanding the current knowledge of the brain and its relationship to behavior, the mind and namely what is to blame can be very helpful. If knowing the brain can be imprinted, changed or permanent in its orientation helps one develop a healthy relationship with existence there should be no question of the worth in knowing about it. For example, Alcoholics Anonymous’s Bill Willson decided to conceive the addict as suffering from a disease that makes one powerless to conditions of desire; it essentially, took the material approach of brain imprinting like the material neuroscientists and concluded addiction to be in the realm of a permanent powerlessness in the realm of a schizophrenia, dementia or neurological imprinted maladaptation.

This journal does a good job at explaining the condition of the alcoholic disease, according to 12 step enthusiasts; “Participants discussed being attracted to varying aspects of the ideology, including: the concept of a higher power of one’s “own understanding,” the notion that their problematic drinking was symptomatic of deeper existential issues, and the disease concept that reduced their shame around past destructive behavior. Many participants shared that the intensity of their identification in AA, both to the ideology and to the people, created a strong sense of belonging” (Glassman, 2022).

Wisdom or unhealthiness can be taken from rigid concepts of what is or isn’t, but if someone has found a sense of healing, reduced counterproductive shame and ways to live better with others from any knowledge that does not hurt others: I see it as a valuable concept. The same with the brain, if feeling powerless over an imprint of the mind brings people together to heal and not do so by hurting others, I see that as valuable. In the case of memory issues and not at all different from any suffering individual. Whether it is by keeping a notebook to write things down that are currently in working memory to lessen difficulty constructing new long term memories, or having cues and schedules to remember what one has to do that day if short term memory is an issue; this does not require deep scientific knowledge, maybe not even shallow scientific knowledge but more so an identification of patterns, a way to not blame oneself for changes within the brain that may be neurological and other people who can help support those suffering from memory related issues.

To conclude, if one has memory loss or wants to understand how to adapt to disorders of the brain, finding others who are tolerant, integrating personal experiences therefore traumas and learning things that help construct better behaviors are extremely valuable to having strongly productive neural pathways and responses relating to and within the brain.

References

Glassman, H. S., Rhodes, P., & Buus, N. (2022). Exiting Alcoholics Anonymous disappointed: A qualitative analysis of the experiences of ex-members of AA. Health: An Interdisciplinary Journal for the Social Study of Health, Illness and Medicine, 26(4), 411–430.

Saraiva, R. B., Hope, L., Horselenberg, R., Ost, J., Sauer, J. D., & van Koppen, P. J. (2020). Using metamemory measures and memory tests to estimate eyewitness free recall performance. Memory (Hove, England), 28(1), 94–106. doi: 10.1080/09658211.2019.1688835. Epub 2019 Nov 7. PMID: 31699019.

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