MindoverMatterFinal2 - Memory was considered an art form in...

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Memory was considered an art form in Ancient Greece, where direct recall was often the only way to transmit information. In addition, memory facilitated a number of highly-regarded activities, including oratory, drama, poetry, or study. Memory was understood as so critical to scholarly activities that Thomas Aquinas and Aristotle developed a set of “memory rules” that would facilitate recall. Both considered continuity and order as critical to recall because it maintained information in a pre-determined, realistic arrangement that would facilitate memory. In addition, they emphasized the importance of affection and mediation-- the manifestation of emotional meaning or personal significance-- and similitudes and contrast-- as the development of an associational network. Sue Llewelyn believes dreams are critical to the maintenance and elaborative neural encoding of memory by the use of bizarre, vivid, or emotionally provocative imagery. Descartes believed memory was a “stirring of the animal spirits” that resulted from activation of the pineal gland, which was stimulated through active will to recall. Locke believed memory relied on “association of ideas” and the linkage of simplistic fundamental memories to form a larger and more complete memory. However, when memories are not renewed through continuous recall, they weaken. David Hartley similarly developed the “association theory” of memory, where the development of interrelations with unrelated or external memories strengthened a singular memory and added context and broader significance to those memories with which associations were formed. He believed the formation of associations was based in neural vibrations; external stimuli caused vibration in specific nerves that concentrically stimulated nearby nerves by spatial proximity, thereby forming “vibrational associations” between unprecedented or unrelated conceptualizations. Additionally, repeated exposure to the same stimulus would generate intensified vibrations that would activate wider ranges of proximal neurons before losing sufficient energy, thereby forming broader associational networks and improve the sensitivity of their co-activation. Richard Semon believed memory was based in a physical “engram” localized in the neural network; a memory “imprint” that induces physical changes in neuronal structure, and which is strengthened by repetition. When a sensory perception resembles or matches an earlier memory trace, it can reactivate the engram and induce memory recall. Critically, the idea that a non-identical sensory stimulus can reactivate a related memory trace implies the formation of associations between similar memory traces by their coactivation. However, Semon’s theories were not widely disseminated given that he was unable to identify the presence, location, or characteristics of the engram.
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