Thursday, March 24, 2005

Viva Memoria

Ever since Will Richardson at Weblogg-ed posted the link to Eide Neurlearning Blog (specifically to their report on the Brain of a Blogger), I've been taking a look at it now and again. I say this with a somewhat bizarre sense of trepidation: I was raised up intellectually in the 90s, days of hard and fast social epistemic rhetoric and a pretty fierce distrust of cognitive-based pedagogies. I gotta say, I still distrust those good old Flower and Hayes studies, but, then again, surely so does Flower herself, as she's moved into more social-based rhetorics. But as I've been reading more in the study of emotion and affect, I'm pretty fascinated by (even as I retain a healthy modicum of scepticism for) neuroscience (the work of Antonio Damascio [Looking for Spinoza, etc], for instance, not to mention the studies that Massumi references in Parables of the Virtual).

At any rate, now that I've written that anxious mix of disclaimer/endorsement, I'll get to what I really meant to blog about: today's neurolearning blog post about autobiographical learning, which has some nice tie-ins with my own blogging yesterday about the [j] session ([j] from the International Phonetic Alphabet, by the way, the initial sound in each presenters' first name). There's the Proustian title, though obvious enough, for starters: Remembrances of Things Past: Autobiographical Memory. And then there's this:

Sometimes when we assess a child who has had significant neurological difficulty that impairs both auditory and visual memory, we have used autobiographical memory techniques to see whether it helps them retain the information better. Often it works like a charm - this may meaning weaving the information to be learned into a story that is dramatized (sensory-motor memory too) so that they experience it and then recognize it later. The pictures below
show one strategy for studying autobiographical memory. Subjects travel in a taxicab in a virtual reality environment while in a scanner, and then time in taxicab is correlated with brain activity - the area that lights up is the medial temporal lobe. Autobiographical memory is also being tapped in the 'spatial technique' used by Superior Memory champions (originally devised by an
ancient Greek) whereby list information is projected on a familiar (autobiographical) scene.

Space/memoria/the virtual. Though here primarily for retaining information, surely also for producing, creating, making possible.

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