Shimamura_Chp 6 - Chapter 6 Chapter 6: Remembrance of Past...

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Chapter 6 21 Chapter 6: Remembrance of Past Things Mental time travel is an apt phrase to describe our ability to reminisce about the past (Tulv- ing, 2000). Personal memories are defined by experiences anchored in time and place, and we transport ourselves back to these moments in our lives when we think about them. Our autobio- graphy, our personal history, is defined by these memories, and we can use them to relate stories of personal capers and encounters. Of course, these stories are molded by time, often recast in exaggerated or otherwise distorted form. Usually core features of our recollections are generally accurate. Personal knowledge, or what psychologists call episodic memory , has special qualities as it represents the grand timeline of our lives. These memories are strictly personal, though we all share many life events, such as childhood, family, love, loss, and death, and these universal occurrences enable us to identify with the experiences of others. Art can function as a vehicle for relating personal experiences. In Children’s Games (Fig- ure 6.1), Breugel captured memories of children play- ing in a courtyard. Many of Breugel’s paintings de- pict such everyday scenes, and though our own mem- ories won’t include the style of clothing or specific games depicted, we can identify with such playful childhood activities. In- deed Breugal’s painting demonstrates the commo- nality of human expe- riences across time, space, and culture. In this chapter, we explore the art of per- sonal knowledge and how the brain and artist evokes remembrances of past things. Memories Are Made of This In the previous chapter we considered semantic memory, which refers to general world knowledge of objects, facts, and concepts. Such knowledge is represented as an expanse web that links information by similarity and co-occurrence. For semantic memory, repeated access to a fact or concept strengthens links to them and broadens our conceptual knowledge. Thus, you have extensive semantic memory of the concept of a birthday . you can tell me what it is and how it is celebrated. Semantic knowledge is encountered many times, and your experience of where or when you learned such knowledge is irrelevant and likely not even remembered. Episodic memory is different as each event in one’s past is inherently linked to a specific time and place. Thus, you have extensive semantic memory of birthdays but there is only one episode in your life that marks your tenth birthday. If you can recollect that event, you have successfully ven- tured back in time and put yourself at another time and place in your life. In cinematic terms, you engaged in a flashback recollection, reliving a scene from your past.
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Chapter 6 22 Time in a Bottle Try this memory quiz: What did you eat for dinner three days ago? You probably won’t be able to answer this question immediately, but with some effort, you may be able to scavenge through your memory and pinpoint the episode. Perhaps you tried to retrieve this information by
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Shimamura_Chp 6 - Chapter 6 Chapter 6: Remembrance of Past...

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