Guide MEMORIES AND SPECULATIONS

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It really is amazing how elements--like spin and showmanship--that are not truly part of science end up being such a big part of science. I often hear science portrayed as this kind of pure instrument, consisting of nothing but the cold steel of unbiased experimentation. And I'm sure it could be that in the hands of people who wanted nothing but the truth. But in the end, scientists are human beings like everyone else, with emotional commitments, egos, and careers.

Another example of silliness dressed up as scientific wisdom was the most recent interview that Alex Tsakiris over at Skeptiko did, with Dr.

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Gary Marcus. Alex mentioned medical doctors studying NDEs who say, "Look, the guy died on my table and then told me what happened during resuscitation. There was more stuff happening in the brain than you realize. It's parsimonious because it fits with everything else we understand about the brain. Otherwise you have to invent a new causal mechanism. I'm not saying that that's wrong, but I think the standards for doing that need to be high. Dear Bernardo, Thanks a million! I read this article before your analysis of it, and I was puzzled. You have now explained to me why I had good reason to be.

An opportunistic question: Is there a work you might recommend that investigates recovered memory? I know you will not mention Elizabeth Loftus!

With huge admiration, as ever, Sophie Johnson. Thanks Sophie! Nothing obvious I can recommend regarding recovered memories I too am heartily sick of the hype in science, and the sense that scientific statements need to be read more like political statements these days. But, in this link, they suggest that not only did everything you covered in your review above, they also claim that they erase that memory, leading them to believe that the memory was stored in that neuron. I liked in the linked you shared and could not find that statement, so just for clarity the link with the statements in question is above.

Thank you for your time.


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Skip to content. The version below is kept for legacy purposes. Both the experiences of the environment and of the electric shocks weren't 'implanted' memories. They actually happened. They actually shocked the mice. They actually placed the mice in that environment. All the experiment accomplished was to create an association between the original environment and the electric shock, without needing to actually make the two happen together, as in classical conditioning. So there is a sense in which one could perhaps say that the 'memory of the association' was 'implanted,' but that's totally different from what the article suggests in the beginning.

It has very little, if anything, to do with Total Recall -type memory implants.

Dialogues in delay: speculations about a whole other temporality of the pedagogical encounter

No memory was synthesised at all, not even a very tiny simple memory. All experiences involved were actual experiences of the mice. They just tricked the mice into linking one real experience to another real experience. This is rather a cognitive link than a memory. They 'implanted' association, conditioning, not phenomenological or experiential memories. You might say that, by reactivating a certain pattern of brain activity, the scientists artificially created recall. This is true, but it doesn't address the important question of what memory is or where it's stored.

You see, experiences correlate with brain activation patterns; we know that. So if you induce a certain brain activation pattern in mice and associate that with a shock, it's no surprise that the shock will be cognitively linked to any future experience that triggers the same brain activation pattern. But that's not the question.

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The question is, when I close my eyes and remember my dead father, how the heck do I know what exact pattern of brain activity to bring back to my brain? Where is the information stored that allows me to reconstruct that pattern? Only the activated neurons grew the switches, so the distribution of the switches recorded the neural correlates of the original experience. The scientists could then turn these neurons back on later, using light.

Of course, this doesn't explain how mice remember things when they haven't been engineered to grow these switches! The experiment explains exactly nothing about the mechanism of memory storage simply because it by-passes it altogether! It was the scientists who recorded and stored the information, and then used this information to create a pattern of brain activity, not the mice. The experiment also says nothing new about the nature of conscious experience. That experience is correlated with certain patterns of brain activity is very old news. That they could create an association between two events by activating their respective patterns together in the brain is also no news, since this has been shown by classical conditioning since the time of good-old Pavlov.

It depends which science fiction book or movie you are talking about. They all invent different answers that are appropriate for the story they are telling. If you are making something up, you can choose the rules. But it is best to make them internally consistent.

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Memories, recollections, guesses and speculations about MH17

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