During this holiday season, we’ll certainly remember the good times of some of the Christmas’ in the past, and also form good memories of this Christmas. So, for this episode of the Perpetual Notion Machine, we look into the science of memory – what are they, how do they form, and what triggers a memory to be recalled? PNM’s Dennis Shaffer talks with UW-Madison psychologist and memory scientist Brad Postle. You can forget about a simple definition of memory. It has various types, classifications, and distinctions, two of which are episodic and semantic. What ends up being a memory mostly comes from sensory input, like what you see and hear. But not every sensory input that bombards us constantly gets encoded and stored as memory. That’s where attention and awareness come in to filter out what’s not important. Also, sensory input is key to retrieving stored memories. But what’s interesting is that this sensory trigger is happening at the moment and will then alter the past memory to form a new one of the old one.
A few websites provide some good information: Human-memory, Queensland Brain Institute, and this one for kids from Discovery Express.
When you enter this post, you will notice two audio files. The first one is a recorded version of what got aired on the radio. But I had such a lengthy conversation with Brad that not all made it to the broadcast version. So, for your enjoyment (or not), a virtually unedited version of the extended interview for this show appears as the second audio file.