Memory and Symbolic Thought

I followed some links on Sabio’s blog and found my way over to this page of beliefs that people once had, but no longer do.  Pretty interesting reading.  What caught my attention most was the change of belief by Joseph LeDoux, a neuroscientist, who went from thinking that memories are once-stored and ever retrieved things to being things that are repeatedly generated when called for.  I have heard this elsewhere, but it reminds me of something else that I have thought about (or read/been told about, but cannot remember where).

Hardly anyone remembers anything from before about the age of four years.  What is also interesting is that this is also right around the time that language skills are coming into their own (if there are any developmental psychologists out there, please feel free to correct me/supplement this).  I have a suspicion that it is actually our ability to use language (symbolic thought) that gives us the ability to ‘remember’ so much as we do.  So while non-linguistic animals might have an experience and need to store reams of data about the particular qualities of that experience, we are able to store symbolic instructions that may be used later to reconstruct the event for us out of a much smaller set of stored sensory modalities.  I find this a fascinating notion (and the implications are neat).

Just a thought.


About AtaraxJim
What would you like to know?

2 Responses to Memory and Symbolic Thought

  1. Sabio Lantz says:

    I vaguely remember that the hypothalamus is not fully developed until 3-4 years old and it is needed in cementing memories. Perhaps language goes with that, but perhaps language is not the cause.

  2. James says:

    Ah, well there it is. Pet theory demolished! 🙂 It’s ok, its was a pet theory with a penchant for peeing on the rug.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: