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Is remembering a concrete process an abstract process or mixed?
Thread poster: Moslehi

Moslehi
Iran
Local time: 19:44
English to Persian (Farsi)
+ ...
Dec 17, 2003

Although it may have been already discussed here or in other forums and seminars, I'd like to know your views on this important issue.
For those who are unfamiliar with the subject, I give an example below:
Some people are excellent when they memorize something by reading it and some are appreciable when memorizing a heard thing.
(here I do not want to talk about what is that or are those things; so take them as one or more common things).
However, when recalling the data whenever required, THERE SHOULD BE SOMETHING REMEMBERED!!!
Those who are great in recalling a read thing, mostly say that the thing they remember is the picture of the text they have already read almost exactly how it was seen!
But what about the second group? Do they REPLAY the voice or sound they have already heard? or there are some other things as well.
You may extend this example to other methods of memorizing.
Your comments are welcome; but plz do not refer to other people's works. Just your own work, plz!

Regards,
Ali Moslehi Moslehabadi
Comparative Linguist

[Edited at 2003-12-17 13:00]


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Marion Schimmelpfennig  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:14
Member (2003)
English to German
What an interesting question! Dec 17, 2003

I have no idea whether my answer will be of any help to you, but personally, no matter what kind of data I remember (seen, heard, smelled, felt), the data is always accompanied by a picture in my head.

What do you need this information for? I'm completely intrigued!

Kind regards, Marion


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nothing
Local time: 17:14
English to Spanish
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Complex Dec 17, 2003

I suppose they replay a heard thing. When someone tries to remember the words in a song, sometimes has to start from the beginning or the chorus and get to the sentence they try to remember.
But I think memory is more complex than that. Anything can trigger anything else, sounds, images, smells, actions. I suppose they are stored in different parts of the brain, but there must be some sort of crossreference system to pull them together


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J. Leo
Local time: 18:14
Dutch to English
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Great question Dec 17, 2003

This is a very interesting and complex question. I only wish I had the time to delve more thoroughly into my books and do more research on the Internet for you. However, I can relay some concepts that I’ve used in psychodiagnostics for clients I’ve been involved with over the years. I’ll be sure to follow this thread.

I believe you’re addressing the topic of how visual and auditory memory are stored, recalled and retrieved. Among other intelligence tests, these concepts are components of intelligence that are ‘measured’ by the classical Weschler intelligence scale (adult or children’s version), which has subscales that indicate whether someone is deficient, ‘normal’ or superior in visual or auditory memory. Of course, the validity the tests and the ability to generalize from one demographic group to another are always, justifiably, in question with this type of test. But the groundwork for the theories of intelligence and memory has the longest Western history with this and the Stanford Binet tests. There are more specific tests for how memory is stored, recalled and retrieved.

Whatever ‘normal’ may mean, the complete spectrum from profoundly mental handicapped to superior genius is effected by the organic, psychological and social developmental processes that can prohibit or enhance the diverse components of what we call memory. Psychophysiology is not my specialty, but as you may know, research and technology are revealing many physiological influences on memory and intelligence, among other functions of the brain, not yet identified until recently. How the brain compensates for deficiencies of visual memory, auditory memory or both opens the topic to the effects of the physiological or organic influences to fields including blindness, deafness or mental retardation, among others, upon information processing. But for your purposes, compensation mechanisms and coping mechanisms are perhaps less relevant, albeit more inclusive of what the definition of normal is.

With that said, the references below should offer you enough keywords to do a search for more specific information about how memory works. It is an abstract process that is not yet fully understood in a concrete measurable manner.

Some more keywords that may offer information. As a comparative linguist, you may already be aware of these suggestions. I hope this helps.

Photographic memory
Mnemonic devices
Retrieval failure
Recall failure
Noam Chomsky
Steven Pinker’s “The Language Instinct”

Here’s a definition of Broca’s Area, the part of the brain that processes language, for some physiological starting points:
http://web.psych.ualberta.ca/~mike/Pearl_Street/Dictionary/contents/B/brocas_area.htmlAt the bottom of the page, click on ‘Wernicke's Area’.

Long-term memory is Relatively permanent memory.

Here is a summary of the theories of intelligence. This page may offer you some keywords to further search for more references: http://comp.uark.edu/~todegar/PSYC2003/intelligence.html

The definition of memory span:
http://web.psych.ualberta.ca/~mike/Pearl_Street/Dictionary/contents/M/memory_span.html

From the same website the definition of working memory or ‘short-term memory’:
http://web.psych.ualberta.ca/~mike/Pearl_Street/Dictionary/contents/W/working_memory.html

Just read this definition of linguistic determination to get a snapshot reasoning for why humans need to be more careful with their wording in order to understand each other more accurately. This addressed the philosophical, ethical and abstract aspects if communication we sometimes call cultural differences:
http://web.psych.ualberta.ca/~mike/Pearl_Street/Dictionary/contents/L/linguistic_determination.html


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Harry Bornemann  Identity Verified
Mexico
English to German
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Active and Passive Knowledge Dec 17, 2003

I think the things you can replay are active knowledge and the things which come to your mind as a reaction to any extern stimulation are passive knowledge.
They are mutually involved, of course.


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Luca Tutino  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 18:14
Member (2002)
English to Italian
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Just as it comes... Dec 17, 2003

To put my info in perspective may be you should know that I am rather an “aural” person than a “visual” person. If I enter a room, I quickly notice the sounds and I do not realize what pictures are on the walls until days later. And, more important, I really have not much memory. Since my childhood, I am used not to count on it, and to replace it by all kind of effective expedients – to the point that I feel I could give advice to old people on how to deal with their acquired loss of memory (although apparently my advice does not seem to have much effect).

The first example that came in my mind, since I read the forum in a translation site, is remembering the translation of one word.

I am sure I remember “bouteille” from my transcribing “La bouteille d’encre” at school, at 11. However I have no image of that transcription, other than the brown cover of my workbook. I think I have a vague memory of somebody reading it in a French language class. Yet no focused “heard” replay.

I am also sure that there are words that I remember by mimicking the movement. I think this is where “having it on the tip of the tongue” comes from. When I strive to remember a word that I know it exist, I feel a stimulation of the muscles of the tongue, even if I do not manage to accomplish the exercise...

I thing I almost never “replay” words. May be never. But I certainly “replay” telephone numbers. I mostly learn them as songs, with accents and rhythm. Arithmetical combinations help and other clues help as well, but certainty comes out only from the recognition of the rhythm, often reinforced by the sequence of tones, the little “melody” played by the phone keyboard.

Other data... I know that if I look for a quotation in a book, I mostly know in what part of the page I should look for, even if I read it years ago... Dates, I generally cannot remember dates. Numerical pin codes, yes, I mostly replay them in my mouth. Yet, I think this serves more as a confirmation than as a clue. I mostly associate numbers to situations, country or city codes, arithmetical combinations or series etc. And even the odd code that I have no clues on, I am still not convinced that when I repeat it mentally, I am “remembering” it, and not just checking that I remembered it right. In that single case, the memory seems to come from the blue, magically, as a compensation for the strong effort I hopelessly made to try to remember it for hundreds of times, in the past!

Hope it helps.

(Please, please, please: keep us in touch with your findigs!)

[Edited at 2003-12-17 21:52]

PS Re-reading myself I notice I have to different meanings of "replay" in mind: one is similar to that of mentally replaying a song or a music, which I often do in my memory. The other is more like singing it, or re-playing it at the piano. Will this have any relevance to you?

[Edited at 2003-12-17 21:56]


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Moslehi
Iran
Local time: 19:44
English to Persian (Farsi)
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks! but... Dec 17, 2003

I should thank all, especially Mr.Caulfield with great resources he introduced.
But the things I'm eager to know are a bit more comlicated.

I have already taken into consideration the classification of active/passive memory or the other terms denoting them or related to them, e.g. conscience and unconscience or present or absent memory, etc.; however, the interesting thing I realised was that even the deaf people have some ways of m/r which is involved firstly with visuality and secondly with sensation; all of them should use a kind of logics to deduce things and this logics should be indirectly involved with language. Now, what sort of language they can have, if they are not able to utilise or even hear the sounds of a language systematically and what makes the sort of language they may have systematic enough in order to perform cognitive processes which result in understanding, reacting, decision-making, etc.
For example, when they see a banana and smell it and eat it, there should be something stored in their brain (and we may guess that is the picture of banana); that's great! but what about the blind?! Is touching the banana enough in order for them not to make mistakes in recognising that it is not something else?
Besides, I personally suppose there should be a kind of unknown language (maybe out of usual or known classifications) which is used by their brain and helps them memorise, recall, process, retrieve, classify, ... different things.
This language (or pseudo-language) is what I am looking for.

Do not forget to imagine deaf+blind people!

Regards,
Ali Moslehi Moslehabadi


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nothing
Local time: 17:14
English to Spanish
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Memory or thought? Dec 18, 2003

I don\'t think language has anything to do with memory. Animals can remember
Where language has a great role is in systematizing knowledge, creating abstract concepts and thoughts.
But when you talk about deaf/blind, you are thinking of language as something made of sounds. Language is made of signs. They don\'t need to be visual or audio signs.
Deaf/blind pupil learn to communicate through sign language, (for example the teacher does the signs in their hand, so they would be tactile signs). You can express abstract thoughts and concepts in sign language.


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Harry Bornemann  Identity Verified
Mexico
English to German
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BTW - why do you ask? Dec 18, 2003

I read a lot from Paul Watzlawick and books about brain functionality, but in the end, I don't see for which purpose I would need it (except for writing intelligent chess programs).

So where do you intend to apply the knowledge?


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Moslehi
Iran
Local time: 19:44
English to Persian (Farsi)
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TOPIC STARTER
The reasons. Dec 18, 2003

Harry_B wrote:

I read a lot from Paul Watzlawick and books about brain functionality, but in the end, I don't see for which purpose I would need it (except for writing intelligent chess programs).

So where do you intend to apply the knowledge?


The answer may lead to understanding the following or more:
- The origin of language(s).
- The proto-language(s).
- Better teaching methods; according to natural functions of the brain.
- Better language acquisition understanding.
- The most natural way of developping AI.
- more and more.
Hope it clears the point.

Best regards,
Ali Moslehi Moslehabadi
Comparative Linguist


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Harry Bornemann  Identity Verified
Mexico
English to German
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A wide field Dec 18, 2003

Moslehi wrote:
The answer may lead to understanding the following or more:
- The origin of language(s).
- The proto-language(s).
- Better teaching methods; according to natural functions of the brain.
- Better language acquisition understanding.
- The most natural way of developping AI.
- more and more.
But I think there are more promising approaches developed by the folks specializing in the respective topics, I found more literature about it than I could read.
Since I came from hardware engineering to software engineering and finally to linguistics, I would be prepared to discuss the point:
"- The most natural way of developping AI."
I may sound too pessimistic, but I found that cars don't have a sort of legs and airplanes don't flap their wings.
That's why I assume that future AI systems will be far from neural nets, they will rather accomplish similar tasks in a quite different way, analogous to their mechanical predecessors.

Rephrasing it in a more constructive way:
I stopped trying to find out how nature does it, I rather try to find out
what are the requirements for a system to provide the desired functionality..
(Interesting intermediate results: humans, rats, and AI systems,
they all can be superstitious, because it is an inevitable matter of principle.)

Or, as a russian scientist put it, "It's not good to steal ideas, because the usually originate in environments which are very different to your one."

[Edited at 2003-12-19 01:12]


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J. Leo
Local time: 18:14
Dutch to English
+ ...
Good Luck Dec 18, 2003

I thought I might add to your quest by responding to your some of your reasons for this inquiry.

The origin of language(s).

I think you’ll find you answers by reading Chomsky and Pinker, among others. They believe that all forms of language are a result of evolution. All humans have the mental ability to develop everything necessary to communicate, regardless of the differences we know about. It’s the result of natural selection, an instinct like a spider spinning a web. A google search reveals their websites, publications, debates and articles both with the same opinion as well as opposing theories.

The most natural way of developing AI.

When doing some research to treat an autistic client of mine, I was searching for the “Theory of Mind”, and came across some robotics websites. Do a search of it and see the relationship to AI. The theory is best explained here:
http://host.uniroma3.it/progetti/kant/field/tom.htm
It’s used to understand how the mind develops and is being used in robotics to understand how the brain processes the cues it takes in. Think of how a baby imitates facial expressions to attain knowledge about his/her feelings, to convey them and what actions to take.

That autistics are ‘unfeeling’ is a misnomer. It’s more like they don’t learn to imitate and focus closely on the amount of stimuli (all forms) that they can tolerate. They express the four basic human emotions (happiness, sadness, fear and anger) but don’t understand them, this is a generalization. And they filter out the stimuli they cannot bear.

More and more.

Keep us posted.


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:14
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
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How abstract is "abstract"? Dec 19, 2003

Practical question, since I normally don't go into forums I can't situate myself in.

Reading for me is not concrete; it is as abstract as listening because I am in contact with ideas as symbols. Whether my visual memory is better than my auditive memory is something I have to live with (for example, in doing simultaneous vs. consecutive interpretation; both processes are auditive but in the second I have to reinforce my memory with visual symbols). The topic itself may be very abstract for me (e.g., a legal case I'm not involved in; I don't know the characters in person and only deal with their words or descriptions) or concrete (a computer seminar about a program I have worked with extensively, or a conference about art, architecture or archeology, which I studied and actually put my hands on for more than 20 years). A person talking or writing about welding (I'm a sculptress and work with metal) is more concrete for me than a manual with pictures detailing refrigeration systems.

There is a process in art called "transmedia" which might illustrate what I'd call an "abstract remove" taken for granted in our age: the object is an apple, the first translation into media is a photograph of an apple, the second translation into media is a photocopy of the photograph, the third translation is "photocopy of the photograph of the apple". We receive it by fax and say, "this is an apple".


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Moslehi
Iran
Local time: 19:44
English to Persian (Farsi)
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
More... Dec 19, 2003

Dear Mr.Caulfield,
Thanks for your comments. I myself am one of Chomsky fans but since I have, unfortunately or fortunately, a kind of free approach in dealing with different theories, it does not mean that I see all of what Chomsky or other theoricians say complete and adequate. Yes, I've read his OPINIONS on this matter but it does not satisfy me; simply because he does not give the further knowledge we need in dealing with such problems. I mean his ideas are not so much involved with the ULTIMATE facts and origins! [it may seem irrational to some of you; but that's real!]

About what our dearest Harry_B mentioned in his last post on AI and mechanical systems, I really DO BELIEVE that in his examples, the most significant element is ANALOGY. Not only in robotics, but also suitably in bionics. Again it does not help or let's say cannot help.

Back to Chomsky et al. emphasizing on those kinds of evolution, both in brain and consequently in languages [btw I see the relation is absolutely mutual], again it does not give us the necessary cues to what CAUSES these changes or better said evolutional processes. It merely deals with the results of them and not to the nature of the causes.

On how abstract is abstract, it should be cleared out that I was talking about PURE ABSTRACT, without any sophistic adulteration. It means you should try your your best to get to that PURITY by omiting or ignoring the EXTRAS involved.[It may seem difficult to take the point but I could not utilise a better wordage!] But I suppose your example about the apple can show you the similar procedure you can go through in order to distinguish abstract and concrete.

Regards,
Ali Moslehi Moslehabadi


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J. Leo
Local time: 18:14
Dutch to English
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ﻰﺒﺎﻴﻤﺎﻜ ‘ﺕﻴﻘﻔﻭ&# Dec 19, 2003

Dear Mr. Moslehabadi,

I must admit that I’m a biased Chomsky fan ever since my Theories of Learning professor stated, “B.F. Skinner taught Chomsky. Chomsky taught Seligman and Seligman is teaching you!” It might be said that Chomsky has been a psychological ‘grandfather’ in my educational genealogy. For other reasons, I shifted my focus solely to clinical psychology and didn’t continue with psycholinguistics until this past April when recovering from a head injury that luckily left my Broca’s Area intact. It was in that period that I began to explore this website and pursued some of the topics for personal interest. It’s a shame that your question comes at a time when I’m most busy. I would be glad to do more research, but am preparing myself for a new position in my field. I will be following this thread as usual and see how it develops.
It’s been a pleasure communicating with someone from the first foreign country I ever set foot on in the mid-1970s. From Isphahan, the Zagros Mountain range is beautiful at sunset.

ﻰﺒﺎﻴﻤﺎﻜ ‘ﺕﻴﻘﻔﻭﻤ

Jim

P.s. I’m not sure if the Persian translation of ‘success’ is represented in the font.


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