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Where are these “unaccounted” for memories?


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I have an excellent memory. I remember little details that can amaze my family. My memories are often as vivid as the experience I once had. However, my memory does have holes in it as I was never diagnosed with Hyperthymesia or any superior autobiographical memory. I forget short term stuff all the time. Yet I was talking to my mother. 4 events in my life; I have no recollection of. My mother told me and when I tried to bring up the memory, I drew a complete blank. They are 1. Seeing Finding Nemo with my best friend and his mother and my mother and then going to McDonalds and meeting a nutty women who would later become very frequently seen in my life. 2. Seeing Mulan with my fathers friends kids in the theater while my paternal grandmother stayed over. 3. Going to my maternal great grandmothers for an impromptu Christmas celebration and my aunt ordering calamari. 4. This is actually unknown to my mother but exists based on logic. The last time I saw my aforementioned aunt before she stopped talking to my parents. Anyway, when I try to “remember” these events; absolutely nothing comes up in my minds eye. I try really hard to focus and nothing. It’s very frustrating because everything else is pretty clear. My question is. Were these event memories deleted from my brain or are they still in there, just inaccessible by current means? Or is it possible they were never memories to begin with? Why weren’t they recorded if such?

Edited by Maximum7
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  • Maximum7 changed the title to Where are these “unaccounted” for memories?

Memories are not recorded as such, they created and recalling them is another creative step. If you did not memorize an event it is often because there was no real engagement (emotional or otherwise) and as such are not committed to long-term memory. Moreover memories tend to need to be reinforced to remain committed in memory. I.e. not having recollection could simply be due to it not having been committed to memory or not reinforced sufficiently and therefore gets forgotten. There is a lot of details and nuance that I leave out, in part because there whole series of books regarding mechanisms of memory and on top I am certainly not well-informed enough to give a succinct answer to a question. However, fundamentally we should not think of memories as a series of recordings that we get to replay, the process is far more dynamic (and error prone!).

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Adding to those excellent points, the memories are also slightly rewritten every time we recall them. Paradoxically we remember them less accurately each time we think about them for the reasons Charon cited. 

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