Memories (8/18/06)

Simply stated, our bodies are not only able to use several different methods of input (sight, sound, smell, taste, touch), but we are able to store that information in our brains. We remember what our mother looks like when she’s not around; we can remember the sound that’s made when wind rustles through leaves on a tree, etc. We are able to store this information in our heads. But once again, I have to point out that this is merely a function of our body and nothing more.

A: Alzheimer’s Disease

We all know what Alzheimer’s Disease is, and what it does. It is a disease that erodes our brain and our ability to remember things. I’ve often found that the words of others provide best examples of what I want to say. In this instance, someone I know has a mother who has been diagnosed with the disease. “I’ll bring her tacos sometimes. She forgets that it was her favorite food so she’s always happy when she eats it.” Okay, well, that wasn’t the exact quote, but you get the idea. Little things like that. The disease will continue to affect the victim’s brain until not only does the victim not remember who their family is, but they will forget how to care for themselves.

B. Anterograde Amnesia

Has anyone here seen ‘Memento’? If not then how about ‘Fifty First Dates’? Well, they’re both films with major characters who suffer from this disease. Simply stated, due to damage to certain parts of the brain, victims of anterograde amnesia are unable to remember anything beyond their own attention span. They can remember things that happened before that part of their brain became damaged, but after that, nothing.

C. Childhood Memories

At every family get together of any sort, without fail, my dad will bring up how me, my mom and my dad went on a two week cross-country voyage across the U.S. We saw Yellowstone, Mt. Rushmore, the Snake river. He’ll then get mad at the fact that I didn’t remember any of it. I was 6. Well who can blame me? I was young. And it’s been proven that the brain is still developing until the age of ten. At that young age, the brain is essentially a “soup of neurons” until they coalesce to form the adult brain. As a result, many childhood memories are simply lost.

What does all this prove? Quite simply that making memories are a function of the brain and nothing more.