Some science behind the scenes


A mnemonist is defined in most dictionaries as someone who has a remarkable memory.  But this is not correct.

It is very clear from reading the descriptions of the mnemonist at work, that what they recall is not memory at all, it is their perceptions. A mnemonist is thus someone who has extremely well developed perception recall.

Quite a number of examples of mnemonists exist.  Ishihara, for example, was studied and written about in Japan by Tukasa Susukita of the Tokyo University in Sendai in 1933.  One of the best accounts of a mnemonist I found, however, was written by Professor Luria of Moscow University describing the life of Soloman Shereshevsky.

Perceptions are the accurate log – the photo image of the events as they happened.  Memory is derived from perceptions and via the learning function is turned into useful ‘data’ – information and knowledge we can use.  Thus for example I may see a man crossing the road and running into a bank with a gun and coming out with a bag in it marked ‘loot’.  My learning process will look at these perceptions and try to work out what I am watching and possibly conclude – knowledge – that I was watching a bank robbery – this then goes into memory.

Moments before I might have been busily shopping, and shortly after I may get into my car and head off home in the rain that is a characteristic of weather in the UK.  Neither what happened before or what happened afterwards may go into memory.


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