Memory in Learning
Updated: Aug 22
The brain should be viewed as a constantly adapting memory storage through which we perceive the world.
For those that don't know much about psychology I will first begin by mentioning that according to the behaviorist perspective (Ivan Pavlov & B.F. Skinner), every living thing learns solely through a stimulation and response. But this perspective often fails to give proper attention and recognition to the mind and memory as it is "unobservable." This journal entry is devoted to describing 'the mind,' and its necessity in conditioning, in terms of the behaviorist perspective.
While the human brain has come to be a seen as an intricate organ containing levels of consciousness, complex emotions, and analytical thinking, it is actually quite similar to any other creature's. That is because it is really just a memory storage and for that reasoning I have chosen to call it a Memorage.
Many people have argued that there has to be some type of cognition that lies in between the stimulus and response but, from my perspective, even cognition is too elaborate of a word. We store information from past experiences to make the best perceived choices in the future. This information, like data in a computer, I call our memorage (with a lowercase m), and every time something knew is learned, our data changes. While you may be wondering why the two words are the same, it is simply because our brain and the memories 'inside' are actually the same thing (so don't get too caught up on it).
Is water wet?
Our brain formed to store memories and all the different neurons which makeup our brain are essentially just made up of memories. Take a Vinyl record which is really just the physical embodiment of music. When the needle is set, it runs along the grooves to play sound. Our brain, like the record, is the embodiment of memory. When we react to a situation, just like the needle being placed on the record, we play and act through the memory or memories best suited for that situation.
But because we often have different interests in music at the same time, imagine that our 'record' had many different tracks that could play any type of music we were interested in. Every time we become fond of new music the record changes its ridges to stay up to date.
But what if the record player was automatic, meaning it knew what we wanted to listen to whenever it was interacted with and immediately placed the needle on the appropriate track.
Our body is similar to such a record player and every time we are stimulated by a question or situation, our body places a neural needle on that part of brain to respond playing the corresponding memorage best suited for that situation. Like the way our mental music stays current by continuously learning, our Memorage learns and adapts to the outcome of every experience we go through or understand. If we miss a shot in basketball, our brain tells us to angle a little to the right to make it in the hoop. If a dog gets a treat for sitting down, the next time it's told to sit, from experience, it will do what it has come to believe will earn it a treat.
But while you may be thinking this all seems pretty straight forward and obvious, the part that's a little harder to grasp is that what we deem 'sentience' and 'consciousness' is really just an innumerable amount of memories making constant connections and accommodations to adjust our view of the world. You, I, and every other creature are thinking through what we’ve come to remember. Everything we take in and every thought we have is an amalgamation of associations. Either we build on what we know or change our whole world view when learning monumentally new information. Every choice we make is merely an application of memories which, according to the behaviorist perspective, we don't even have control over.
Just as tracks are separated so as to not overlap Stairway to Heaven with Jingle Bells, what we know is separated into different sections. These 'schemas' adapt individually so that when we learn something new about say swimming or painting, it doesn't really affect what we know about technology or mathematics (to a degree).
Once again this type of storage is the same in all creatures, so while we may think we're so much superior in terms of what we know, our brains have actually just adapted over time to create the most efficient Memorage in the animal kingdom. Humans don't even have the best retention capabilities, bottle nose dolphins do. But we don't see them creating civilizations because the human Memorage is the most efficient in sorting, balancing, and applying what we've learned. This cognitive equity helps us to not retain too much to do with one area nor forget things that are essential.
In summary: Any learner must first reference a schema of memory that has been influenced by every prior experience to allow for elicitation of a response.
For the sources referenced in this article and a more comprehensive version check out my dissertation A New Perspective on Memory when Eliciting a Response. Thanks for reading and be sure to subscribe below to stay updated on new posts!