On the Nature of Memory

Recently, when responding to a comment on one of my Facebook posts I couldn’t remember the name of a movie.

This happens to me often. Maybe at age 44 I’ve started throwing out the non-essential information in my brain and focusing on what I think is important.

At that moment, though I needed to access a bit of that knowledge.

The internet is an extension of my memory.

The Facebook post I had written was about the ‘no-fly’ list and people being able to purchase guns. I wanted to write the sentence:

“The interesting thing about the no-fly list is that the people on it have not yet committed a crime, sort of like that movie where the precogs could predict crime and put people in prison for acts they have not committed.” Except I really just wanted to write: “The interested thing about the no-fly list is that the people on it have not yet committed a crime, sort of like the movie x.”

So, what do you do? Can’t remember the movie title. I can’t remember the main actors name in the movie. However, the nature of the way my memory works (at present) is that I know the main actor in that movie was the lead in the Mission Impossible movies.

A quick run to IMDB and I know the actor’s name is Tom Cruise (I don’t really like him so I can see why I don’t remember his name – he is in a lot of movies that I like, though.)

A single click on his name delivers a list of the names of movies that he has been in. And there it is – the movie title “Minority Report”.

It is more like how a hard drive works. I don’t know what is in the file, but I know the address of it, and can find it and regurgitate it if I have to.

 

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