On 3/30/10 8:34 AM, “Dr. Robin Bloor” wrote:
I’ve noticed you discuss associative memory without actually declaring that all memory is associative. And yet it is. At least I can find no example of a memory that I can experience that isn’t associative. So there may be some other kind of memory, but I can’t find any example.
Why should it be unusual to remember where we were when something happened? Truth is that for most visual memories I have, I know exactly where I was, because I can represent it visually. I remember a sunset over lake Austin seen from The Oasis. I know exactly where I was: The Oasis. But those events: Kennedy’s assassination, Man on the moon, fall of the Berlin Wall, Princess Diana’s death, Twin Towers etc. are a horse of a different color. The interesting thing is that the event was impressive enough that we associate the event with where we were, and where we were may not have had much to do with the event. The events (good or bad) were momentous.
I was a young child playing chess in an adult chess club (in England). One of the most senior and respected members of the club walked in. “Gentlemen,” he said, “The president is dead.”
There is another effect in this. Some events are so momentous that they travel by word of mouth, so we get the news in an atypical way. It increases the odds that we will remember the location, but not by much.
So why are the Superbowl ads the most expensive and why do the advertisers focus on making the ads unusual. It’s obvious why. It’s a momentous time on a momentous day for many viewers.
Robin Bloor Ph.D.
Chief Analyst & President, The Bloor Group
Founder, Bloor Research
When I read your comments, I checked the Wizard Academy alumni database and was hugely relieved when I saw that your exposure to our material was limited to the Free Public Seminar of March 15. I would the worst teacher alive if a cognoscenti of the 3-day Magical Worlds Communications Workshop were asking me for these clarifications. Please don’t be offended. There’s only so much we can cram into a 1-day seminar when our goal is to give our visitors a quick taste of a wide variety of topics. Your questions are perfectly understandable considering your limited exposure.
Most miscommunication is the result of a lack of definition of terms. In this case, we seem to have differing definitions for the words
(2.) “memory” and
In a nutshell, I think you’re confusing associative memory with episodic declarative memory.
I speak often of associative memory because it is the first step in effective marketing: we must link our selling propositions to the moment of the customer’s need so that we become the solution the customer thinks of immediately when the need arises.
A vivid description of the moment of need is often enough to create an associative memory. The creation of an associative memory does not require the learner to remember where they learned the information (episodic memory,) only that they remember it when the need arises.
I take my definitions of terms from the works of Dr. Alan Baddeley, author of Essentials of Human Memory and a number of other books in the field of cognitive neuroscience.
1. An associative memory is a memory that has become linked to another memory. You mentioned associating sunsets with The Oasis on Lake Travis because of a memorable sunset seen there. Sunsets might thereafter trigger memory of The Oasis. This would be an example of associative memory.
2. Not all memories are associative. It would be extremely unusual for a person to remember where and how they obtained every piece of data they own.
You may remember that Omaha is in Nebraska, Sperry-Rand invented Univac and Bennie and the Jets is sung by Elton John. But do you remember precisely where you first learned these tidbits of information? Such facts are examples of semantic declarative memory; we remember the data but not the context of the initial learning. This does not mean your brain makes no associations with Omaha, Sperry-Rand or Elton John, only that you do not remember the specifics of where and how you gathered the initial data.
3. To have a detailed memory of where you were when you learned a specific thing is to have episodic declarative memory; you remember the episode. Your examples of Kennedy’s assassination, Man on the moon, fall of the Berlin Wall, Princess Diana’s death, Twin Towers, etc. are examples of episodic declarative memory.
4. Automatic, involuntary recall, (such as stepping on the brake when a dog runs in front of your car, or the specific sequence of finger movements to strike the keys during a piano song you’ve memorized) is procedural memory.
5. To further confuse all this, conscious awareness is called working memory. Anything remembered the next day is declarative memory, which as we mentioned has 2 categories: semantic and episodic. But permanent memories – involuntary, automatic recall, deep branding – are stored as the aforementioned procedural memory, chemical memory, a product of Salience (relevance) x Repetition.
Robin, my obligations and commitments keep me from responding to most of the emails I receive. If I were even to acknowledge each email with a reply that was barely specific enough to prove that I had read what was sent to me, I would spend 5 to 7 hours each day in an effort to be polite.
Alas, I cannot afford to be that polite.
I hope you won’t be offended if future emails receive no acknowledgement.
Roy H. Williams