Neuronal populations involved in encoding memories also extract the kind of generalized concepts that allow us to transform our daily experiences into knowledge and ideas. The rules that the brain follows to convert collections of electrical impulses into perception, memory, knowledge, and ultimately , behavior are a kind of holy grail.
There's a group that found that the brain relies on memory coding cliques to record and extract different features of an event. They are organized in a sort of pyramid way, with the general idea of the event at the base and then more detail until you get to the top of the pyramid and there is one particular event or idea that is remembered vividly. This is why when something really amazing happens you can remember it vividly.
What I want to point out is that like a network, it doesn't have to involve alot of different ones, in the general sense. In other words, if you can think of, like a triangle with bands of color horizontally across the base, midsection, etc. - you shouldn't be inclined to , say, start in the blue band at the bottom and think that just because its general, you have to involve more neurons.
You have seen this on the net. If you're looking for something, there might be one site that contains the entire general idea. Like, say, wikipedia. Then, if you are looking for other things, you might have to surf for them. Sometimes you go through a few sites. Sometimes not.
I believe there is a social parallel. We have friends, relatives, family, lovers. And so on. Having more of them doesn't necessarily make you nicer or accomplish your social goals.
Think about this the next time you see your cat looking back at you. All he has to do is have the right neurons encoded with the right pattern. Its just like Cisco PIX 50x series firewall. They can be the size of a pack of cigarettes and still switch the traffic for an entire university. If you could talk to your cat, he would still probably just talk about predators. Prey. over and over. It wouldn't be much fun. Sort of like talking to a border collie, they would talk about tennis balls. There would likely be this shade of autistic repetition.
But they're hierarchical. And you preserve them and promote them by keeping them working on specific tasks. Most people know this intuitively. If you don't use it, you lose it. The energetic ones that live to youthful old age usually are doing something, e.g. the grandmother skydiving lessons. The Abkasian that still works in the field. Very rare to find one of them thats not into something or another.
So if you think of these memories in their most general sense as fitting together at the base, with others in their class you end up forming an image of something that helps you to understand what it looks like.
And then, when they fit together... you have to remember, to put your server at the top of the network diagram... just kidding.. would they look like this..?
General to specific organization represents an organizing principle in the brain.
I've noticed that when people get really angry, they are convinced that they are right. And nothing you can say will change their mind, they will rail on and on and just never stop. And if you agree with them, the paradox is that they can sometimes even get more angry. They don't get the expected response, and so they are being forced to question the basis of their very specific memory event. Anger seems to travel all the way to the specific. People tend to get annoyed at general things, you know. Socks on the floor. Stuff like that. But very specific things , for example "You said WHAT to that person".. are the triggers. And when they go, you can see people sometimes just release wave after wave of thoughts that flood back.
Hierarchy is important I bet. We have to have winners, losers. The area that responds, when it is formed into a clique, I bet only responds to that particular stimulus. People want to keep flexible so they also remember "driver" events. I call these protocol molecules.
This type of work is driving new network-centric systems. Most computers fail miserably at tasks associated with cognitive systems, guessing, that kind of thing. Grow a beard, your face becomes unrecognizable.
Change your accent. Your speech becomes unrecognizable....model it in digital networks and you have the answer. And then the categorical, hierarchical organization of memory coding units can play out to lessen the confusion of the recognizer. (don't get me wrong, I am not going to go this far in my work, this is just a colorless green idea of mine here)
You really do think you're alive. What if your memory can be reproduced, along with the networks that store it and allow you to perceive it. Suppose I download it...
A quick, multiple choice question. If you had this technology would you...
- Use it to help make memories easier to retrieve, even in brain damaged persons ..
- Deliver this to the military for potential use on the battlefield as a training tool
- Download you into the brain of a chipmunk and store you in second life in a tree.. with a nut in your mouth! Ha ha ha hah ha!
IF you answered three, you're a mad scientist. >:)