Thursday, March 17, 2011

Associative memory

While with the kids at the weekend something came up that resulted in me giving a small 'lecture' on how memory works. Major's old enough to follow and if Minor picks up some of it that's all to the good. Our starting point was Johnny Depp who was in "Alice in Wonderland" and "Pirates of the Caribbean" and "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory"; but who was the other male lead in PotC?

I demonstrated that I knew they'd also starred in "Lord of the Rings" in which they'd played the elf Legolas, but that the name wasn't there. Some information is there in that PoTC and LotR are linked in my mind and can only be done so via this actor, but the name itself is stored separately to the 'memory entity' of the actor.

However if I start with Orlando Bloom I can jump straight to LotR and PotC, but might have more difficulty dredging up Johnny Depp's name.

I relate this because just this morning for some reason I was thinking of Flash Harry from the St Trinian's series. I knew in the modern films he was played by Russell Brand, but who was the original? Up popped the name of Dennis Waterman because he starred with the same actor in "Minder", the character's name was Arthur Daley and the actor's name was? I got as far as George, which then popped up George Foreman; yeah not him.

I just find it interesting how our minds work; our memory isn't a neat set of filing cabinets more like a three-dimensional spider's web with some strands weaker and some stronger than others.