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I’m Such A Scatterbrain! August 27, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Humor, Mindfulness, Nature, People.

RWS_Tarot_01_MagicianNot long ago, I learned something interesting about our brains ~ we do not have a single language center in the brain.

Instead, various sections of the brain work together to allow us to formulate and decipher sentences.

To read more about language and the brain: visit Uphill Writing.

The study findings on sign language reminded me that the brain handles our memories in a similar way . . . posting a bit of information here, and a bit of information there.

We seldom remember things with complete accuracy and recall because of the way our memories are stored ~ smells in one place, visuals in another, audio in a third, emotions in a fourth.

In short, we’re scatter-brained!

When we want to “remember” something, the brain runs around to a number of different “filing cabinets” to gather the necessary data.

Since it never finds all the information it needs, it makes up the rest.

We literally “make (up) our memories” on an as needed basis.

Talk about “rewriting history” . . . no wonder no two people ever remember the same event in exactly the same way.

No rules. Just write!

Related posts:  Res Ipsa Loquitur * A Glimpse Behind The Veil * Linguistics:  A Bit of a Sticky Wiki *A World Without Words


1. Pocket Perspectives - August 27, 2011

Love it!…that explains a lot…. 🙄 A mug? http://www.amazon.com/Wild-Wolf-Little-Miss-Scatterbrain/dp/B002USATTW A tshirt? http://www.artfire.com/ext/shop/product_view/3148399 Ah, the multi-tasking life. Considering all those brain centers, I guess I’ll be thankful that I do as well as I do. 😎

nrhatch - August 27, 2011

Same here!

The more I learn about the brain’s wiring, the happier I am that I don’t blow a fuse every time I try to recall something from the dim recesses of the past. 😆

2. brainrants - August 27, 2011

Was gonna say something witty but I forgot what it was…

nrhatch - August 27, 2011

Happens to me . . . all the time! 😀

3. misswhiplash - August 27, 2011

Now I know the answer! That is why I can never remember anything.. those little men are running around in my brain looking in the filing cabinets for bits of this and bits of that.

Because my brain has been around for a long while..every filing cabinet is crammed with information and not necessarily in alphabet order, so it takes a while to gather what needs to be known.

I have been thinking that it was because I was getting old..but it’s not that at all. It is because I am so intelligent! Whooppee!!

nrhatch - August 27, 2011

My mom often complains that her “filing cabinets” are too full too! 😀

Don’t you love the image of little memory men running around gathering data?

(Better than little pac men running around and cutting off our synapses). 😆

4. creatingreciprocity - August 27, 2011

Excellent post – very interesting. The Science Daily article is also very good. This talk is around the same area – language – you might like it.

nrhatch - August 27, 2011

Off to have a bite to eat. Will watch in a bit.

Thanks, Patricia.

5. Mary Royers - August 27, 2011

I’m writing an undergraduate thesis on this VERY topic!! Well, the topic of bilingualism and how it changes the way your brain’s language muscles if you will. I find this stuff beyond fascinating.. Thanks so much for sharing the article and your thoughts:)

nrhatch - August 27, 2011

The human brain is fascinating ~ well, so are dolphin brains and chimpanzee brains.

We weave what we know about one thing into a split second classification of a second thing . . . and we don’t even realize we’re doing it.

BTW: If you want a good grade on your thesis, don’t cite me! Find primary sources. 😆

6. ~ Joanne ~ - August 27, 2011

And speaking of Manic Brainiacs… Here’s a video link I love sharing…! Check it out…

nrhatch - August 27, 2011

That’s very cool! Love that emotionally disturbed youth have become brighter as a result of 5 minutes a day!

Thanks, Joanne.

7. Linda - August 27, 2011

I’m pretty sure that a lot of my file drawers are stuck shut.

nrhatch - August 27, 2011

Maybe you should try the Super Brain Yoga? It’s quick, easy, and makes both adults and kids “smarter.”

Even kids with autism and asperger’s syndrome showed marked improvement in cognitive skills.

8. Linda - August 27, 2011

I’m right onto that superbrain yoga, that I can do!

nrhatch - August 27, 2011

You go, girl!

I’m going to try it . . . the older I get, the more help I need to stay on my toes. 😉

9. Christinemgrote - August 27, 2011

This actually helps me understand some of the weird things my dad says and does with Alzheimer’s. Interesting post.

nrhatch - August 27, 2011

Alzheimer’s (and strokes) destroy synapses . . . not all of them, but some of them. As a result, the retrieval system is impaired, but still operational. They may be able to gather some data, even if the rest is lost in the fog.

I’m glad that the board works to help him communicate a bit. That may be because speech and writing are two different areas of the brain.

10. Paula Tohline Calhoun - August 27, 2011

Really interesting article. . .I love when you write about beaches and swimming or bicycling. . .Did you see that big bird out there? Oh wow! Smell that bread baking. . .Talk to you later – it’s important. . .

Hi! Really interesting article. . .

nrhatch - August 27, 2011

And it’s not just Alzheimer’s and strokes that impair our retrieval systems . . . horse pills do too. 😉

Sounds like your sense of humor is still intact, PTC.

11. barb19 - August 27, 2011

Well, that explains a lot – fascinating stuff!

nrhatch - August 27, 2011

The brain and its synapses is fascinating territory, indeed.

Once I heard about how we stored our memories, I stopped arguing with my sister about whose memory was accurate ~ answer: NEITHER. 😀

12. Julie - August 27, 2011

Wow – I never knew that! Now we can quit beating ourselves up about the stuff we forget. It’s the fault of brain circuitry!!

nrhatch - August 27, 2011

I expect that, if we were supposed to remember EVERYTHING, our storage retrieval system would be better. Instead, the brain stores what we NEED to be able to retrieve and shreds the rest. One more reason not to worry too much about who and where we were YESTERDAY.

Be Here Now. 😀

13. Team Oyeniyi - August 27, 2011

WOW! I do feel a lot better now. HOWEVER – I am not inclined to let the kids read this in case they adopt it as a standard excuse for forgetting! 😆

nrhatch - August 27, 2011

This is only an excuse for adults . . . whose filing cabinets are overflowing. 😛

14. jannatwrites - August 28, 2011

This could be another reason that eye witnesses in criminal cases aren’t that accurate either. Years ago, I read several fascinating research articles about this.

Now, I often wonder, “did I really see that, or did I make it up?” Then I shrug my shoulders and shake my head because I forgot what I was thinking about.

nrhatch - August 28, 2011

Yes. Part of the reason for the discrepancy is the different PHYSICAL vantage point and focus. A second reason is the different vantage point we’ve had in life which SKEWS our view. We don’t see things as THEY are . . . we see things as WE are.

And last, but not least, is the retrieval of the memory. We may think that we KNOW exactly what the robber looked like . . . but we may have superimpsed Uncle Carl’s nose and Roger Ebert’s hair over the robber’s actual facial features.

As for your second point . . . did I really see that?

Our brains cannot tell the real from the imaginary . . . that why we believe so many of the silly thoughts we think.

For example, if I picture a snake about to strike . . . my heart rate speeds up and adrenaline starts pumping . . . even if it’s just my imagination.

The same thing happens in movie theatres during chase scenes or other intense moments. Our brains see what on the screen and start sending out signals to our body to get ready ~ we go into Fight or Flight mode (even if the fight is only going on in our head).

That’s why I’m a proponent of Master Your Thoughts, Master Your Life. When we get angry, upset, unhappy, sad, frustrating, it pays to tune in to our thoughts to see what we are saying to ourselves and really T.H.I.N.K. ~ true? helpful? informative? necessary? kind?

15. adeeyoyo - August 28, 2011

Just like a computer, Nancy – or should I say the computer is modelled after our brains!

nrhatch - August 28, 2011

Good point, Denise. The retrieval system in computers does store things in different compartments and sometimes misplaces them entirely. 😀

And, just like our brains, it’s hard to really erase a document from our hard drive. It’s still there . . . with the initial code scrambled to prevent retrieval.

16. Tilly Bud - August 28, 2011

That IS interesting.

nrhatch - August 28, 2011

Learning about the brain (and other body parts) fascinates me ~ not enough for me to want to go back to school, but enough to ponder and wonder and play around with the bits and pieces I pick up.

17. Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide - August 29, 2011

Fascinating post. This is one reason witnesses are so unreliable, sadly.

nrhatch - August 29, 2011

Yes. Part of the reason for the discrepancy is the different PHYSICAL vantage point and focus. A second reason is the different vantage point we’ve had in life which SKEWS our view. We don’t see things as THEY are . . . we see things as WE are.

And last, but not least, is the retrieval of the memory. We may think that we KNOW exactly what the robber looked like . . . but we may have superimpsed Uncle Carl’s nose and Roger Ebert’s hair over the robber’s actual facial features.

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