New Memory Ideas.

Todd I. Stark stark at dwovax.enet.dec.com
Wed May 18 12:10:07 EST 1994


scpeters at NMSU.EDU ("Scott D. Peterson") writes...

>Could it be posible to 'harvest' these chemicles and then reproduce them
>so that a 'learned skill memory could be transplanted?

This isn't really a new idea, it was the subject of very intensive
investigation by J. V. McConnell and others a number of years ago, and
was part of the impetus for the starting of first biological psychology 
journal.  

It seemed promising enough at the time from the work with planaria worms
and even some mammals that for a time the common interpretation was that
particular molecules were encoding particular memories.

Later research cast many doubts on this, and the weight of evidence
eventually caused the chemical transfer theory to collapse.  The effect of 
specific chemicals on memory is now generally considered more a matter of
capturing at most general tendencies, such as a propensity toward
light or dark, or activating pre-existing emotional patterns.  Of course
there's still a fair amount of freedom of interpretation within that
vague area, even if specific motor skills could never be encoded chemically.

Some of the schools of popular psychology deal in modelling human behavior
and presumably transferring skills between people by attempting to decompose 
them and reconstruct them along sensory and cognitive lines.  The 
neurolinguistic programming school is probably the best known.  If you aren't 
committed to chemical transfer, you could borrow some ideas from them.  The 
book that comes to mind on this subject is "The Emprint Method," by Leslie 
Cameron Bandler and others.  I don't know of much research on it, and I'm not
aware of how well it works in general, compared to other approaches to skill
analysis and learning.

>6)  "...instinct involves genetic memory-the existence of information that
>can activate and coorinate a species-specific fixed-action pattern that
>passes from one generation to another."

As an example, the warbling of a songbird might be activated by a chemical 
messenger, but the skill of warbling itself is to some extent structurally 
imbedded in the body of the songbird.  You would not be able to transfer 
that skill to another variety of bird who did not have the structural 
prerequisites, without mutating the one bird into the other.  Similarly
with many or most genetic factors that you could say to be encoding
the elements of physical skills chemically.  Their expression is partly
_developmental_, even though they are to some extent encoded chemically.

>Thanks Scott

							kind regards,

							todd
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