These Things

Yesterday, Mrs Stroke Bloke sent me a link to what, at first, looked like an article in The Onion.

I mean, seriously, right? Clumsily cut and paste Joe Biden’s head onto that, sit back, and watch the advertising dollars roll in.

[Find out about the latest developments in memory science below,
and check out the 
Apoplexy Newsletter here.]

Would Mike Pence do this? Other than in a gay bar?
“I dunno, Stroke Bloke. Sounds a little niche to me” – The VP of Our Hearts

Yeah, I did tell a nurse, “Who am I? I’m the Vice-President, man!” during the early stages of my recovery.

But the article was about an informal study conducted by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, a writer, economics Ph.D., and former quantitative analyst at Google that more-or-less backs up my oft-made observation that the best music you ever heard came out when you were 17.

Songs that reached their commercial peak during a listener’s teenage years were more likely to appear higher in an age range’s most-listened-to tracks in the present day.

"The saviours of British rock" – Select, Melody Maker
Googling ‘Disco Dad’ just reminded me Britpop was mostly shit

Stephens-Davidowitz doesn’t come to any concrete conclusions based on his data, Stereogum concludes. But let’s ignore the question of why journalism is lazy and shit these days, and recall that apoplectic.me has already researched the question and found the answer.

Our memory latches onto particularly vivid details in order to create an identity, and uses them later in reinforcing that identity – Claudia Hammond via Brain Pickings

Little Miss Bump
Man experiences identity change in shock denouement!

An article in today’s New York Times suggests that scientists are finally, truly beginning to understand the biology of memory well enough to manipulate it. The article is about last week’s news that scientists had developed a brain implant that boosts memory. And the hope that, people in the throes of serious memory loss, and their families, [may] feel a sense of hope…. These things take time, and there are still many unknowns.

Their implant, in fact, constitutes an array of electrodes embedded deep in the brain that monitor electrical activity and, like a pacemaker, deliver a stimulating pulse only when needed — when the brain is lagging as it tries to store new information.

As the article notes, we’ve long known that a stimulating pulse can sharpen the memory, making use of caffeine, nicotine, prescription drugs like Ritalin, or more virtuously, with a brisk run around the park.

That stroke's gonna ruin your memory, man
GIMME MY GODDAMN COFFEE!!!

Now, I don’t know if I’ve mentioned my disgust with the laziness and shittiness of so much of today’s journalism – natch – but even this NYT piece raises more questions than it answers. How many ways can one write, What are the possible consequences of this? Don’t know, don’t care to think about it?

Nevertheless, it jogs my memory about a few things. For example, [o]ne… ability that people with extraordinarily precise memory have in common is known as selective attention, or “attentional control.”

This reminds me of when I had to admit in the early days of rehab that I couldn’t name the President because I’m really bad about remembering things about which I don’t give a shit. Maybe an early indication that my Scottish homing beacon was about to kick in.

I know. It's not like it was a campaign pledge. AMIRITE?!?!
“You forgot WHAT?!?!”

So, they asked me who the prime minister was, and I still couldn’t remember. Until Mrs Stroke Bloke said, You hate him, remember?

Back in today’s world, where everything is very different and the Prime Minister is a woman, I like to think that practicing paying better attention might help my memory. But the article in the Times seems to suggest that, while increased memory performance may be possible with the utilisation of particular memory techniques with respect to particular sets of data,

that ability didn’t transfer to any improvement in general cognition, like the ability to concentrate, to store new information without using the technique, or speed of processing.

So, I guess I’m going to stick with coping strategies. Hey, Alexa. What song that I liked as a teenager was I going to use to hang this post on?

Stroke Bloke accidentally reinforces his identity as a xenophobic British reactionary who can’t write prose for toffee…

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2 thoughts on “These Things

  1. Yup. My favorite album of all time is Starfish, by The Church. Released in 1988. When I was — you guessed it — 17 years old. Second favorite would be The Stone Roses debut album, which I first heard in early 1990 (18 going on 19).

    Similar to Paul, my 2018 new year’s resolution is to listen to new music (including albums from many years past that I don’t know very well). I’ve ignored most new music for the past 5 to 6 years or so. Now I’m finally tired of the thousands of songs in my iTunes, so I upgraded my Spotify account to premium and downloaded the app to my phone. Much easier to listen to new music now, since my only free time for doing so is during my daily commute in the car.

    The down side so far is that, out of the 25 to 30 new albums I’ve heard thus far, I haven’t liked a single one well enough to listen to it again. Maybe I’m too old and closed-minded to open up to new sounds? Oh to be 17 again, just for the benefits of enjoying new music…

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