June 23rd, 2008

eyes black and white

Our Memory Architecture (dream)

In one dream a few months ago, I was holding a salon about how our memory is organized. People mostly do not have conscious memories of their childhood before the age of about 2 years and a half; this is about when their ability to speak coherently starts to appear. I was thus hypothetizing that after we learn how to speak, we tend to organize all our conscious memory around words, and that earlier memories are then left unindexed: whichever sensations through which we used to trigger them, we do not exercise anymore, we are not used to exercising, are not our main means of retrieving information. The memories themselves slowly fade away as we fail to cultivate them. Of course, in the development of a child's mind several such "memorial revolutions" may happen, and layers of earlier memories are thus obsoleted by better organized ones. I then wondered if people who learn massive memoization techniques based on using various sensations as keys could access memories deeper in their childhood. After I woke up, L. told me that some people learn to speak in sign language at an early age before speech is possible. Does that allow them to keep memories from an earlier age than most?