Vanguard anti-narrativist Galen Strawson declares personal memory unimportant for self-constitution. But what if lapses of personal memory are sustained by a morally reprehensible amnesia about historical events, as happens in the work of W.G. Sebald? The importance of memory cannot be downplayed in such cases. Nevertheless, contrary to expectations, a concern for memory needn’t ally one with the narrativist position. Recovery of historical and personal memory results in self-dissolution and not self-unity or understanding in Sebald’s characters. In the end, (...) Sebald shows how memory can be significant, even imperative, within a deeply anti-narrativist outlook on the self, memory, and history. (shrink)
This paper defends the claim that, in order to have a concept of time, subjects must have memories of particular events they once witnessed. Some patients with severe amnesia arguably still have a concept of time. Two possible explanations of their grasp of this concept are discussed. They take as their respective starting points abilities preserved in the patients in question: (1) the ability to retain factual information over time despite being unable to recall the past event or situation (...) that information stems from, and (2) the ability to remember at least some past events or situations themselves (typically because retrograde amnesia is not complete). It is argued that a satisfactory explanation of what it is for subjects to have a concept of time must make reference to their having episodic memories such as those mentioned under (2). It is also shown how the question as to whether subjects have such memories, and thus whether they possess a concept of time, enters into our explanation of their actions. (shrink)
Is a painful experience less bad for you if you will not remember it? Do you have less reason to fear it? These questions bear on how we think about medical procedures and surgeries that use an anesthesia regimen that leaves patients conscious – and potentially in pain – but results in complete ‘drug-induced amnesia’ after the fact. I argue that drug-induced amnesia does not render a painful medical procedure a less fitting object of fear, and thus the (...) prospect of amnesia does not give patients a reason not to fear it. I expose three mistakes in reasoning that might explain our tendency to view pain or discomfort as less fearful in virtue of expected amnesia: a mistaken view of personal identity; a mistaken view of the target of anticipation; and a mistaken method of incorporating past evidence into calculations about future experiences. Ultimately my argument has implications for whether particular procedures are justified and how medical professionals should speak with anxious patients about the prospect of drug-induced amnesia. (shrink)
Relational memory theory holds that the hippocampus supports, and amnesia following hippocampal damage impairs, memory for all manner of relations. Unfortunately, many studies of hippocampal-dependent memory have either examined only a single type of relational memory or conflated multiple kinds of relations. The experiments reported here employed a procedure in which each of several kinds of relational memory (spatial, associative, and sequential) could be tested separately using the same materials. In Experiment 1, performance of amnesic patients with medial temporal (...) lobe damage was assessed on memory for the three types of relations as well as for items. Compared to the performance of matched comparison participants, amnesic patients were impaired on all three relational tasks. But for those patients whose MTL damage was limited to the hippocampus, performance was relatively preserved on item memory as compared to relational memory, although still lower than that of comparison participants. In Experiment 2, study exposure was reduced for comparison participants, matching their item memory to the amnesic patients in Experiment 1. Relational memory performance of comparison subjects was well above amnesic patient levels, showing the disproportionate dependence of all three relational memory performances on the integrity of the hippocampus. Correlational analyses of the various task performances of comparison participants and of college-age participants showed that our measures of item memory were not influenced significantly by memory for associations among the items. (shrink)
Belief revision theory concerns methods for reformulating an agent's epistemic state when the agent's beliefs are refuted by new information. The usual guiding principle in the design of such methods is to preserve as much of the agent's epistemic state as possible when the state is revised. Learning theoretic research focuses, instead, on a learning method's reliability or ability to converge to true, informative beliefs over a wide range of possible environments. This paper bridges the two perspectives by assessing the (...) reliability of several proposed belief revision operators. Stringent conceptions of minimal change are shown to occasion a limitation called inductive amnesia: they can predict the future only if they cannot remember the past. Avoidance of inductive amnesia can therefore function as a plausible and hitherto unrecognized constraint on the design of belief revision operators. (shrink)
It has been reported that, on average, most adults recall first memories formed around age 3.5. In general, most first memories are positive. However, whether these first memories tend to be visual or verbal and whether the period for childhood amnesia (CA) is greater for visual or verbal or for positive versus negative memories has not been determined. Because negative, stressful experiences disrupt memory and can injure memory centers such as the hippocampus and amygdala, and since adults who were (...) traumatized or abused during childhood (TA) reportedly suffer memory disturbances, it was hypothesized that those with a history of early trauma might suffer from a lengthier childhood amnesia and form their first recallable memories at a later age as compared to the general population (GP). Because the right hemisphere matures earlier than the language-dominant left hemisphere, and is dominant for visual and emotional memory, as well as the stress reponse, it was hypothesized that first recallable memories would be visual rather than verbal. Lastly, since stress can injure the brain and disrupt memory, it was hypothesized that the traumatized group would demonstrate memory and intellectual disturbances associated with right hemisphere injury as based on WAIS-R, Wechsler Memory Scale, and facial-memory testing. All hypotheses were supported. Positive and visual memories are formed before negative and verbal memories. TA CA offset, on average, is at age 6.1 versus 3.5 for GPs. TA PIQ (performance IQ), short-term visual memory, and facial memory were significantly reduced. (shrink)
Betrayal trauma theory suggests that psychogenic amnesia is an adaptive response to childhood abuse. When a parent or other powerful figure violates a fundamental ethic of human relationships, victims may need to remain unaware of the trauma not to reduce suffering but rather to promote survival. Amnesia enables the child to maintain an attachment with a figure vital to survival, development, and thriving. Analysis of evolutionary pressures, mental modules, social cognitions, and developmental needs suggests that the degree to (...) which the most fundamental human ethics are violated can influence the nature, form, and processes of trauma and responses to trauma. (shrink)
Feminist Amnesia is an important challenge to contemporary academic feminism. Jean Curthoys argues that the intellectual decline of university arts education and the loss of a deep moral commitment in feminism are related phenomena. The contradiction set up by the radical ideas of the 1960s, and institutionalised life of many of its protagonists in the academy, has produced a special kind of intellectual distortion. This book criticizes current trends in feminist theory from the perspective of forgotten and allegedly outdated (...) feminist ideas. (shrink)
Dissociative identity disorder (DID; called multiple personality disorder in DSMIII-R) is a psychiatric condition in which two or more identity states recurrently take control of the person's behavior. A characteristic feature of DID is the occurrence of apparently severe amnestic symptoms. This paper is concerned with experimental research of memory function in DID and focuses on between-identity transfer of newly learned neutral material. Previous studies on this subject are reviewed and a pilot study with four subjects is described. This study (...) is specifically concerned with the question whether self-reported asymmetries in between-identity transfer can be replicated on experimental memory tests. A secondary aim was to examine whether, in the absence of explicit transfer, implicit transfer of information would occur. The results showed that the apparent amnestic asymmetry for explicit information was substantiated in the laboratory, although at least some leakage was present between the apparently amnestic identities. No evidence was found for better performance on implicit than on explicit memory tests in the apparently amnestic identities. In the discussion, parallels between apparent amnesia in DID and state-dependent memory are drawn, and the question of simulated amnesia is addressed. (shrink)
Aggleton & Brown have built a convincing case that hippocampus-related circuits may be involved in thalamic amnesia. It remains to be established, however, that their model represents a distinct neurological system, that the distinction between recall and familiarity captures the roles of these pathways in episodic memory, or that there are no other systems that contribute to the signs of amnesia associated with thalamic disease.
The scientific investigation of empathy has become a cornerstone in the field of social cognition. Empathy is critical to the quality of our relationships with others and plays an important role in life satisfaction and well-being. Scientific investigations of empathy have focused on characterizing its cognitive and neural substrates, pointing to a network of brain regions involved in emotional experience and perspective taking (e.g., ventromedial prefrontal cortex, amygdala, anterior insula, cingulate). While the hippocampus has rarely been the focus of empathy (...) research, we propose that there are compelling reasons to inquire about the contribution of the hippocampus to social cognition. We propose that the hallmark properties of the hippocampal declarative memory system (e.g., representational flexibility, relational binding, on-line processing capacity) make it well-suited to meet the demands of empathy. The present study is a preliminary investigation of the role of the hippocampal declarative memory system in empathy. Participants were three patients (1 female) with focal, bilateral hippocampal (HC) damage and severe declarative memory impairments and three healthy demographically matched comparison participants. Empathy was measured as a trait through a battery of gold standard questionnaires and through on-line ratings and prosocial behavior in response to a series of empathy inductions. Patients with hippocampal amnesia reported lower cognitive and emotional trait empathy than healthy comparison participants. In response to the empathy inductions, unlike healthy comparison participants, hippocampal patients reported no increase in empathy ratings or prosocial behavior from the control condition. Taken together, these results provide preliminary evidence for a role of hippocampal declarative memory in empathy. (shrink)
In general, we endorse Aggleton & Brown's thesis that the neuroanatomy of amnesia comprises two functionally distinct systems, but we are disappointed in the lack of detail regarding the critical functional contribution of the hippocampus. We also take issue with the characterization of the cortical areas surrounding the hippocampus, particularly the decreased emphasis on the cortical input to the hippocampus.
In this paper, I argue that Stanley and Williamson’s 2001 account of knowledge-how as a species of knowledge-that is wrong. They argue that a claim such as “Hannah knows how to ride a bicycle” is true if and only if Hannah has some relevant knowledge-that. I challenge their claim by considering the case of a famous amnesic patient named Henry M. who is capable of acquiring and retaining new knowledge-how but who is incapable of acquiring and retaining new knowledge-that. In (...) the first two sections of the paper, I introduce the topic of knowledge-how and give a brief overview of Stanley and Williamson’s position. In the third and fourth sections, I discuss the case of Henry M. and explain why it is plausible to describe him as someone who can retain new knowledge-how but not new knowledge-that. In the final sections of the paper, I argue that Henry M.’s case does indeed provide a counterexample to Stanley and Williamson’s analysis of knowing-how as a species of knowing-that, and I consider and respond to possible objections to my argument. (shrink)
Within Piaget there is an implicit theory of the development of explicit memory. It rests in the dynamical trajectory underlying the development of causality, object, space and time – a complex (COST) supporting a symbolic relationship integral to the explicit. Cassirer noted the same dependency in the phenomena of aphasias, insisting that a symbolic function is being undermined in these deficits. This is particularly critical given the reassessment of Piaget’s stages as the natural bifurcations of a self-organizing dynamic system. The (...) elements of a theoretical framework required to support explicit memory are developed, to include, (1) the complex developmental trajectory supporting the emergence of the explicit in Piaget, (2) the concrete dynamical system and the concept of a non-differentiable time contained in Bergson’s theory required to support a conscious, as opposed to an implicit remembrance, (3) the relation to current theories of amnesia, difficulties posed by certain retrograde amnesic phenomena, the role of the hippocampus and limitations of connectionist models, (4) the fact that nowhere in this overall framework does the loss of explicit memory imply or require the destruction of experience “stored in the brain.”. (shrink)
This commentary provides a critique of Tsuda's target article, focusing on the hippocampus and episodic long-term memory. More specifically, the relevance of Cantor coding and chaotic itinerancy for long-term memory functioning is considered, given what we know about the involvement of the hippocampus in the mediation of long-term episodic memory (based on empirical neuroimaging studies and investigations of brain-damaged amnesic patients).
Performativity and performance of language are the subject of this re-writing of Derrida's position on the gift. Here the source of performativity is Althusser's while the source of the gift is not only Marcel Mauss, but also both the opening of Derrida's Given Time: I, Counterfeit Money and the signing through letters of Madame de Maintenon, wife of Louis XIV and founder of a school for girls. A third writing plays a role, that of a 1910 biography of Madame. The (...) paper is a ârelay,â a âre-playâ of the positions of the central âcharacters,â -- Derrida and Maintenon -- and a semiology of their writings. Out of this a new âgift of pedagogyâ is evoked in a conception of âpedagogical retreat.â. (shrink)
Previous research suggests that early performance of amnesic individuals in a probabilistic category learning task is relatively unimpaired. When combined with impaired declarative knowledge, this is taken as evidence for the existence of separate implicit and explicit memory systems. The present study contains a more ﬁne-grained analysis of learning than earlier studies. Using a dynamic lens model approach with plausible learning models, we found that the learning process is indeed indistinguishable between an amnesic and control group. However, in contrast to (...) earlier ﬁndings, we found that explicit knowledge of the task structure is also good in both the amnesic and the control group. This is inconsistent with a crucial prediction from the multiple-systems account. The results can be explained from a single system account and previously found diﬀerences in later categorization performance can be accounted for by a diﬀerence in learning rate. (shrink)
The paradigmatic bases, which sustain traditional western psychological interpretative efforts, need not be just a footnote to Plato. In this paper we introduce the Talmudic interpretative perspective, which we use to point at some weaknesses we identify in contemporary research imaginings. While the empiricist approach may be traced to Plato and the interpretative and the critical approaches may be traced to Heraclitus, we argue that the Talmudic approach is a differentiated and unique perspective that, because of its non-epistemic nature, its (...) dialogical character, and its recognition of two intermingled levels of interpretation, can make an important contribution to new ways of thinking about understanding and meaning in research. (shrink)
Memory may be crucial for establishing and/or maintaining social bonds. Using the National Social life, Health, and Aging Project questionnaire, we examined close interpersonal relationships in three amnesic people: K.C. and D.A. (who are adult-onset cases) and H.C. (who has developmental amnesia). All three patients were less involved than demographically-matched controls with neighbors and religious and community groups. A higher-than-normal percentage of the adult-onset (K.C. and D.A.) cases’ close relationships were with family members, and they had made few new (...) close friends in the decades since the onset of their amnesia. On the other hand, the patient with developmental amnesia (H.C.) had forged a couple of close relationships, including one with her fiancé. Social networks appear to be winnowed, but not obliterated, by amnesia. The obvious explanation for the patients’ reduced social functioning stems from their memory impairment, but we discuss other potentially important factors for future study. (shrink)
Results of several investigations indicate that eye movements can reveal memory for elements of previous experience. These effects of memory on eye movement behavior can emerge very rapidly, changing the efficiency and even the nature of visual processing without appealing to verbal reports and without requiring conscious recollection. This aspect of eye-movement based memory investigations is particularly useful when eye movement methods are used with special populations (e.g., young children, elderly individuals, and patients with severe amnesia), and also permits (...) use of comparable paradigms in animals and humans, helping to bridge different memory literatures and permitting cross-species generalizations. Unique characteristics of eye movement methods have produced findings that challenge long-held views about the nature of memory, its organization in the brain, and its failures in special populations. Recently, eye movement methods have been successfully combined with neuroimaging techniques such as fMRI, single-unit recording, and MEG, permitting more sophisticated investigations of memory. Ultimately, combined use of eye-tracking with neuropsychological and neuroimaging methods promises to provide a more comprehensive account of brain-behavior relationships and adheres to the “converging evidence” approach to cognitive neuroscience. (shrink)
Not so very long ago — that is to say during the late sixties and early seventies — most Left lawyers understood the law as an ideological and repressive force imposed upon oppressed individuals, groups and classes from without. Viewed from the eye of the political storm surrounding the antiwar and Black liberation struggles, the conclusion that the law was a prime instrument of ruling class hegemony seemed obvious. Before the bar of progressive opinion, radicals presented their indictment of the (...) entire juridical apparatus of the American state sub nomine the law against the people. The law was dismissed contemptuously as an elaborate structure of myths, the function of which was to obscure the underlying reality of bitter struggle between social classes. (shrink)
Conventional wisdom has it that there is — or at least there ought to be — a correspondence between theoretical and political positions. But the very labelling of it as conventional wisdom already betrays its falsity. Sure enough, any careful examination of the record readily reveals that this correspondence hardly ever obtains. No such parallel can be drawn for the Hegelians who split into Right and Left wings with qualitatively different positions, e.g., the German Young Hegelians and the British neo-Hegelians (...) at the end of the last century. Nor is that true for Marxists who bifurcated into Social Democrats and Bolsheviks, or for the existentialists who produced Sartre and Merleau-Ponty, as well as Kierkegaard and Marcel. (shrink)
In this paper I consider the essential role that public memory plays in the establishment and maintenance of the political arena and its space of appearance. Without this space and the shared memory that allows it to appear, Hannah Arendt argues, transience and finitude would consume the excellence of word and deed—just as the "natural ruin of time" consumes its mortal performer. The modern era displays a kind of mnemonic failure, however, a situation arising not only from technological developments that (...) "outsource" memory but from several normative breakdowns that Arendt describes as characteristic of modernity. The consequence is the individual's loss of personal, living access to the community's memories, and the community's own failure to engage in the difficult choice of what counts as worthy of preservation. In failing to ask this question, however, the community abdicates responsibility for establishing the shared norms by which it will govern itself in times of crisis. (shrink)