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Brain Maps Out Ideas and Memories Like Spaces (quantamagazine.org)
92 points by Reedx 28 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 13 comments



"The Art of Memory" by Frances Yates is an interesting and scholarly book on the ancient origins of this idea. It's not a light read but I find it fascinating how influential this idea has been over such long periods of time, and also how memory has changed and evolved with the accessibility of the written word. Reciting hour long speeches word for word from memory used to be a commonplace skill (rhetoric).


This is super interesting, and someone let me know if I'm interpreting it wrong.

This reminds me of times when I go back home and I have to remember a route to get somewhere, say the mall, and in my head I following a path that I remember. Every Time I need to go somewhere in a car it is the most obvious that I am following that path.

I wonder if this can be used to help people remember events by using locations to help bring that memory forward. Say you show a picture to someone on a day something traumatic has happened and the location actually helps them remember and they can walk through that situation.


You're spot on actually, recall performance can be significantly influenced by the environment in which the recall is occurring. The closer to the original context in which the memories were formed, the better chance of accurate recall. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Context-dependent_memory


This is pretty interesting, and thanks for the link. This is now making me think how people with ADHD (like myself) can use this to understand how they think. I just read people with ADHD can start creating false memories with situations because they may not have been paying attention in that situation, but I don't want to go on too much of a tangent.

The original article is something really exciting to read, the more that we can understand about how we can navigate through our mental space would help so many people and it's really cool to think about.

Random thought is if you can apply network theory to the hexagonal array or the grid like pattern? If it can be, my first thought would be to apply Triac closure and other principles to see how memories are tied to one another and the connections between them.


Of course, the more you can activate recollection from that specific event the more data you can gather to reconstruct the whole.


Reminds me of the cooler and more general form of synesthesia, 'ideasthesia' - like synesthesia where concepts get sensory augmentation https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ideasthesia

So... I wonder then if there is duality in this mapping like between frequency/time domains with a Fourier transform of signal over time, just, instead, over a concept domain

    (grid/place) cells :: spatial resolution / location 
<->

    cells, which if combined, encode concepts :: conceptual resolution/frequency (??)


I think concept spaces acquire a "shape" when we become familiar enough (I associate this with the idea of a subject "clicking"), and that creativity often involves realising the shape of different concept spaces are similar and thus ideas from one can apply to another. Furthermore, I believe these "shapes" exist as a metaphysical "truth", akin to platonic forms. I think it ties into how real-world problems can often be reduced to pure mathematical problems. I experience ideasthesia very strongly (often having strong, immediate instinctual reactions to e.g. how well new software features fit within the "shape" of the overall domain as well as having affinity or aversion to concepts for reasons I have to deduce later).

I'm not sure exactly what I'm trying to say, beyond "I think so, yeah". It's a super interesting area of exploration and either it hasn't been looked into enough, or I don't know the right words to look for. I can feel a thread linking concepts like mental models, systems theory, cybernetics, Christopher Alexander's work on pattern languages, and so on.


You're on a good path, abstractions and concepts overlap a lot between seemingly different areas of reality.


Yeah they do, and I'm interested in what we can do with that. I believe that accessible modelling could change the world in a lot of fundamental ways.


Could be like a fourier transform of a semantic concept (pointer) (multi-)graph.. And as a behavior loop, attention/perception = solving some class of sparse problem in a very high dimensional space..


Hands down, my favorite living researcher, developer, demo-er, etc of mental, spatial orientation and placement etc is Marcin Maskow Kowalczyk.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oU2tKYvDH2g


Sherlock (BBC) uses a "mind palace" technique [1] to remember stuff, where concepts are mapped to places/spaces.

It was apparently used by Ancient Greek and Roman orators as mnemonic device.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Method_of_loci


Fascinating, I wonder to what degree these structures play in human intelligence as a whole.




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