Memory, Emotional Stability, and Test Taking
1) How’s that for a title?
2) Sorry, it’s been a while since my last entry… real life… sigh
I got my last issue of Science News yesterday. I won’t be renewing my subscription. My mom gets it and she always gives them to me. There’s a new mag coming out… Science Illustrated. It looks a little more in depth and I’m thinking they’ll have a swimsuit issue (check this out for why I hope so).
Anyway, on to the reason for the title. The article was title Mind Control and the research in the article is being used to attempt to learn more about amnesia. There seem to be issues with the experimental method. Hypnotically telling people to not remember is poorly understood at best, but it’s a still a neat idea.
The part that really caught my eye though was a brief section on Memory Suppression. According to the article, memory suppression is a health, normal process that allows us to function. Instead of our memory flooding us with data every time we remember something, we suppress a lot of memory and only retrieve the valuable memory. For example, I look at my son and see a red mark on his forehead, my brain doesn’t flood me with memories relating to his birth, and Christmas, and the time he laughed so hard he peed on me. No, my memory specifically scans for things that happened recently that might have caused the red mark.
NOTE: From here on is pretty much my thinking on the matter.
My hypothesis is that there is a specific chemical mechanism in the brain that controls this. There is also a specific gene that controls the chemical mechanism. Here’s why I think that is so…
1) I have a problem. I’m very intelligent. I’m an excellent test taker (SAT, GRE, IQ tests, etc). However, on a more emotional level, I am often crushed by unwanted memories, very often negative. Seeing a bird on the side of the road can dredge up some painful memories of my first hunting experience and cause me some emotional stress.
2) I have many students that are just the opposite of me. They are poor test takers and do not seem to learn from (what I would consider) significant events. The girl who graduated with two children comes to mind. It seems to be an inability to bring up memories that could potentially help.
3) To me there is a huge increase in students’ inability to remember, make correlations between events, and do well on tests. This could easily be a selection issue for humans. What people are going to have the most children, younger, the people without the ability to consider the ramifications of their actions.
There are several studies that show a criminal’s brain is significantly different than a ‘normal’ brain. The part of their brain that does things like ethical considerations and consequences of actions, literally doesn’t work. Could this be a similar phenomenon?
Yes, I know there are hundreds of other factors to consider. Nevertheless there appears to be a slight correlation between ability to suppress memory and (for lack of a better term) intelligence. I know, intelligence is not the correct term here… I hope you understand what I mean though.
So that’s it, are people with better test taking abilities** (memory) also more emotionally strained because of how their memory works? Could there be a chemical link between the ability to recall and suppress memories? Could I be just plain nuts?
I would really like to hear from some people with total recall and what happens to them during recollection.
** Yes, I do think that even IQ tests use a lot of memory, if only for calling up a strategy for finding a solution to the problem.