Memory, Pattern Matching and the Complexity of Stimulus

We have all had things which suddenly jog our memories and make us think of things that happen in the past. We see, hear, smell, taste and touch things that make us smile, remembering events of the past. Generally, we are an optimistic species that prefers to remember nice things rather than bad things, a reference to seeing the past through ‘rose tinted specs,’ It’s mainly due to the fact that our memory is only a composite of remembered experiences, not a factual item, quite often remembered through a filter of our worldviews. So, two people may experience the same thing and remember it in two different ways, probably neither being entirely true. But what is remembered? It seems to be complex patterns, the more specific the better it is retained. This is probably true for reference and imparting sudden and unconscious linking.

Our main external senses are visual, hearing, smell, taste and touch, the visual and audible allowing for a much greater complexity than smell, taste and touch that are more limited in scope. You can analyse smells to a degree, taste being directly linked to smell, but touch being more limited to various pressure combinations on parts of the body, but a range of textures, an animal’s hair or fur linked to the feel a long run of similar animals of the past.

All of these can elicit a memory matched to a stored away pattern, some of them acting like a cascade effect if the match is more subconscious and the person is not aware of it happening. If a number of simultaneous such patterns are subconsciously matched we get this sense of deja vue, ‘having been in this position before,’ but the ‘somebody just walked over my grave’ effect being a more negative version of this, possibly linked to a pattern of bad experience.

Taste, smell and touch, separate or in combinations, seem to evoke pattern matches to more simple memories, though not necessarily less intense. The memory tends to be more fleeting though.

Visual and audible patterns can be much more complex and intense, especially if there are a lot more patterns that are linked to those.

We see an awful amount of things, much too hard to analyse at the time, and we store only a fraction of this, but because of this complexity it is stored more permanently, but we are mainly sight based creatures, a fantastic amount of our processing given over to visual cues, so is very distance based. Things can be appreciated for being there, but they grey out the farther they are away. Things that take up more space are more noticeable, you’re more likely to take much more notice of a mountain than a molehill, unless it’s directly in your garden.

We have the ability of speech and this in itself has led to a secondary concentration of processing on audio patterns and cues, probably music being a direct result of the ability to speak and communicate, or it could be the other way around, music coming first, the ability to make and appreciate it producing the ability to speak and communicate further. Speech in many ways is an extension of singing notes, sound linked to specific values of frequencies, being no surprise that we choose an octave above, being just double the frequency and octave below half the frequency. Our note choices are about 6%, the limit for easy differentiation of two patterns, giving rise to a doubling every 12 notes, an 8 note 8 octave matrix as a learned result. It is, because we are built that way. If other intelligent creatures that communicate by sounds exist their music would be very discordant and wrong to us, as they would have different ranged equipment. Close encounters is highly unlikely.

So, we have two main avenues for complex pattern matching, visual and audible, both giving extra boosts to this matching, giving us a priority of seeing and hearing things we like, tolerate and dislike, pictures, films, music, all linked to this complex linking, but partial matching giving rise to subconscious matching, evoking what we have experienced in the past and linked to our emotional or receptive state at that time. Taste, smell and touch doing similar, but on a more direct and simple way.

A lot of programmes and music are simple just pictures and noise, though patterns matched to preferred emotions, but we nearly all have special places for these in our minds, bringing up a whole range of desired emotional states, so we are much more willing to continue with them, linked to worldviews and personal imagery.

The problem occurs when the desire for these preferred patterns, worldviews and imageries are negative for other people, a thing common with people who are not empathic, never having developed past the simple personal self-interest and involvement stage socially, quite often resulting from a stunted childhood, so never really advanced from that stage.

If it is just a partial match we may experience only a partial memory, the points of overlap with what is stored being a higher percentage level for smell, taste and touch and easier to identify, visual and audio cues not really reaching a level to gain the full status of consciousness, but still hanging around waiting for another set of points to match.

The combination of all the senses in memory, sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch would have the greatest impact and points of contact in patterns from our earlier years, probably why we have such a reverence and fondness for our mothers cooking. Only linked bad experiences may cause a problem with this.