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Thursday, February 02, 2006

Memory 

An excerpt from On the Sea of Memory: A Journey from Forgetting to Memory, a reflection on memory and the brain and the self by Jonathon Cott, who had 15 years of his memory erased by electric shock therapy. In the following passage, he discusses the relationship between emotions and memory, and how stress can heighten and enhance the powers of recall.

…(I)n Medieval times, before writing was used to keep historical records, when means other than writing had to be found to maintain records of important events such as a wedding or negotiations between powerful families, you say that a child about seven years old was selected, instructed to observe the proceedings carefully, and then thrown into a river. In that way, it was said, memory of the even would be impressed on the child and the record of the event maintained for the child’s lifetime. That hyperactive amygdala was certainly working overtime.

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