11 January 2008

The Effect of Brain States on Learning, Memory & Identity

Here's a fascinating post over at Cog Sigh about how a brain state can reinforce itself and how similar brain states can create similar memories and associations.

Here's a quote from the posting:

In practice this means that, for example, when I am depressed I most easily remember episodes and information that I encountered during past periods of depression (by depression I mean a mood, not clinical depression). We've all experienced how our moods seem to feed themselves, but just think about it in terms of identity. Identity is essentially composed from a series of key memories about the experiences that we have had and what we have made them mean about the world. If I am building a definition of myself (to a certain degree) from my own memories, then my understanding of who I am when I am depressed is significantly different from who I think I am when I am happy or calm simply because I am constructing my identity from a different set of memories.

(In the spirit of full disclosure, this is my daughter Jordan's most recent posting.)

4 comments:

ThomasLB said...

This would partially explain why old habits are so hard to break.

If OJ Simpson believes he can get get away with anything, then he gets stuck in a loop remembering all the other times he got away with something. I can see how that would not end well.

cce said...

This would also explain why a recovering addict has such a hard time making his/her way forward, because all memories, all experiences that proceed sobriety are defined in the terms of relative intoxication. New experiences seem so much paler, more non-descript than the older more colorful adventures.

Ron Davison said...

Thomas,
It'd probably break our hearts if we knew how much of our life was defined by personal momentum.

cce,
life is full of little addictions, it seems to me, and maybe its to find ourselves that we recreate past conditions.

David said...

Interesting. Much more so than political banter. I don't spend a lot of time defining myself although when I do I find it depressing. Sounds like the proverbial self-licking ice cream cone.