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Memory is associative. Our brains work more like a large relational database. I say database because a database is more permanent than a hash, and is still curruptable :) You can also look at this as a large HoHoHoHxN datastructure. For example, this is a way a brain can make relations:

flower-outdoor-water-blossom-wind-smell-pollen-sneeze
and
flower-plant-water-grow-bloom-seeds
and
water-blue-sky-airplane-vacation

You can see, all this information in linked together, and various links share common items. This is going to all be part of the neural network which links items together to form your memory (like a good relational db may use keys and indexes), and assist with recall.

because I didn't have array-indexing abilities. I had to step through the list to find the 8th

I also had to remember mine for my fraternity (TKE) a few years ago. I had to remember which was the 8th, as well as who he came before and after in the lineage. So, my memory structure looked something like:

%founders = (1 => {Name => "John Dough", Preceeds => "Jack Mehoff", Af +ter => "I.P. Freely"}, 2 => etc... )

Now, I built relations between numbers, names, and numbers and names. When asked who is number 8, my brain had a few ways to connect the information:

8-Name
7-8-Name
7s Name-8-Name
etc...

Then, after a night of heavy drinking, I would likely loose one or two of those relations by killing brain cells (a random delete on the hash, or database corruption), but could still recall the information because I had various relationships.

Will: No, letters have a base 26 pattern than just doesn't get a chance to repeat.

Not only that, but we are conditioned to learn the alphabet forwards. If you build the relations of the alphabet in reverse, you can do this. This is sort of like asking someone to say the alphabet without singing the alphabet song... most (at least in the US) learned with this song, and the tune is related to the alphabet. I also had to do this for my fraternity, but it was the Greek alphabet.. forwards and backwards.

A phone number may be remembered sequentially. When we remember phone numbers, like 888-555-6473, we practice the pattern in sequence. I wouldn't tell you what number comes before the 7 without starting from the beginning. The numbers aren't related to eachother in a truely relational way (unless you practice it), only to who owns that number, and such. Generally, people put phone numbers into short-term memory (a temp hash), and have to put it into long-term memory (the db) by relating the number to something(s). But, when you remember something like this in a list, you will need to find meaningful ways to associate one number from the others around it. If you chunk the numbers together from the end, you will likely achieve this.

Human memory is very complex, and doesn't simply involve something like hash key lookups, because links can be broken and things can be "forgotten". This is retrieval. Retrieval can work really well in a soundex fashion (as well as remembering things in chunks). For example, studies have shown that classes over 45 minutes give students chunks of information which are too large to remember. Or when you think "Oh! The name of that song is something like 'Shallow Hole'.. er.. 'Mallow Pole'.. oh yeah, 'Gallows Pole'". You scan your memory for things that are similar, until you make the correct association. Ok, wait.. I am getting too much into how Human Memory works (grad school flashbacks).

So I'm curious how you think your brain works in the Perl sense.

In a Perl sense? Well, I think it would be large HoHs which would be short term memory. To store it in long-term, I would use DBI to stuff the data in useful chunks and relations into a database. To retrieve the information, I would use a large SQL statement with a large WHERE clause :)

select memory where key=flower and environment=outside and result=snee +ze

That will recall a memory that the wind will carry pollen of a blossomed flower and make me sneeze. I would hate to be the DBA who needs to design a database to replicate human memory and recall!!

Cheers,
KM


In reply to RE: How do our brains work? by KM
in thread How do our brains work? by japhy

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