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Old 07-02-2008, 07:28 PM   #41
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I can remember numbers, but have almost no memory of my childhood and since a few years back I have trouble remembering whether I did something earlier in the day! My sense of direction has also gone downhill since I was a kid.

I *still* remember the license plate of my friends old car from 1992 which I probably saw less than < 5 times. I'm decent with math so maybe my brain is just wired better for numbers.

I think a lot of this has to be hereditary. My dad has at least as good of a number based memory as me and a much better general memory. He's also very good at doing math in his head.

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Old 07-03-2008, 04:49 AM   #42
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my memory for names is plain awful, even though i've tried, at times, to improve that. yet i know another person who can remember most names upon entering a room full of new people. based on my observation of myself and that person, i've developed a theory of a direct relationship between the ability to remember a person's name and your capacity to give a rat's ass what someone thinks of you. the more you need their approval, the better you'll remember their name.

i'm so bad with this that it is embarrassing, well, at least for my friends who try to introduce me around. me? i don't notice until they complain. i can be casually introduced to someone and then a week later meet them again and i'll have no idea that i ever met them before. i don't think it's early alzheimer's because i've no other symptoms. more likely either they didn't interest me or i was satisfactorily amused by my own thoughts alone.

on the other hand, if i do get into good conversation with someone and then run into them years later, i might not remember right away what they look like but i will remember their voice and pattern of thought & speech.

from dealing with my mom's alzheimer's, it seems to me that the longest lasting or embedded memories are emotion-based or at least that there is some kind of relationship between memory and emotion. it often made me do a double-take. for instance, when my buddy died, mom had already deteriorated to the point that she had forgotten how to construct most sentences and needed help dressing and feeding herself. but when i shared my sad news, my mother showed sympathy for me by reaching out to hold me and said "your friend from colorado." he was my friend from california but wow, she'd only met him a few times. she hadn't seen him in years. he wasn't part of her long term memory but i was and my life was and she stayed connected to that even while disease ravaged her physical memory.

there were a number of instances like that which made me think that memory was more a matter of hard drive and less a product of ram. that it stored best when associated with emotion and that somehow emotion was not isolated in the brain but that it was more body-based, that maybe it stores in the heart. and once a memory finds its way there, it is hard to forget.

"off with their heads"~~dr. joseph-ignace guillotin

"life should begin with age and its privileges and accumulations, and end with youth and its capacity to splendidly enjoy such advantages."~~mark twain - letter to edward kimmitt 1901
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Old 07-03-2008, 06:13 AM   #43
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The only thing I can think of that I memorized in school that I still remember know is my multiplication tables. It's amazing to me how many grown adults can't multiply two 1 digit numbers together in their heads.
My short-term memory is horrendous. If someone leaves their number on my voicemail I have to replay it at least 4 or 5 times to get the whole number.
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Old 07-03-2008, 08:18 AM   #44
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Originally Posted by mickeyd View Post
I can still recite many parts of these passages, but I am not sure what benefit academically it gave me as a student. Does anyone know of any benefits that I may have come to me because I was required to do this or is it just a quaint old educational activity?
Years ago, I read an article somewhere that addressed this point. To the best of my recollection, memorizing poems was supposed to be a "fun" activity, at least more fun, say, than memorizing the multiplication tables. According to the article, many people remember these poems late into life and reciting the poems evoked fond memories of their schooldays.

I personally didn't find memorizing poems to be fun and generally completely forgot the poem the nanosecond I completed the test in which I was supposed to regurgitate the poem.

BTW, I have always had sort of a dilettante's interest in history and have noted, at least in Western history, that if one is not born into high aristocratic circles or is not a military man, then the surest road to career advancement is mastery of one's language. Memorization of poems would doubtless help achieve this mastery.

I had a friend, long since gone, who was a professor of mechanical engineering. He once told me that the language portion of the SAT is a better predictor of success in mechanical engineering than the math portion. Perhaps memorizing poems is more important than it seems at first blush.
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Old 07-03-2008, 08:31 AM   #45
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Originally Posted by Dudester View Post
I had a friend, long since gone, who was a professor of mechanical engineering. He once told me that the language portion of the SAT is a better predictor of success in mechanical engineering than the math portion. Perhaps memorizing poems is more important than it seems at first blush.
That's interesting. I remember that back in engineering school, I remarked there was a pretty clear divide between two types of engineering students. There were those that were in engineering because they had a knack for it and really couldn't do much else. Then there were those who were more like a Renaissance Man, having abilities and accomplishments in many areas but preferring engineering because it was challenging.

For example, one of my pals in the latter category won a regional piano competition, wrote published poems and news articles, and ran a small business on the side, and still managed to get decent grades in our EE classes and perfect SAT's. Another pal couldn't write a cogent paragraph with correct grammar or spelling to save his life, didn't have any language aptitude to speak of, and didn't know much past his integral tables.

They got about the same grade point average, but I always figured the more focused guy would do better in engineering because he wouldn't stray from his goals. Sounds like that isn't the case.

"You can never cross the ocean until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore." - - - C. Columbus
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