Neuroscience and Scientific Study of Memory essay

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The attempts to uncover the mystery behind the human memory can be traced back to perhaps over 2,000 years. We can use Aristotle’s early quests to know more about the human memory in his work “On the Soul”. In this context, he compared the human mind to a blank slate and theorized that all humans have very little knowledge and are actually the sum of what they go through as they struggle with life on this earth.

We study due to our different abilities to recall whatever we let into our memories at a later moment in time. If for any cause at one unfortunate moment an individual loses their potential to remember, then that becomes a reason to worry for anyone around. That alone is an apparent demonstration of the magnanimity of importance of having a perfectly functional memory (Edelman, 2006).

Reminiscence is totally dependent on the normalcy of our memories. And of great importance to be that our ability to recollect is totally dependent on our state of consciousness. That is why there have always been serious attempts in the neuroscience world to come up with a logical meaning of ‘consciousness’ in scientific terms. That is what makes us think of the dedicated people among them Gerald M. Edelman, a renowned brain scientist who has done quite remarkably in convincing a significant portion of humanity to deviate from the traditional concepts and opinions held strongly by many biologists and their likeminded colleagues in the field of Philosophy.

In his book, the “Second Nature” Edelman strongly rejects three key points that are pivotal to the debates by his parallel-thinking colleagues. These key points include the following

  • That consciousness is brain-based and is too complicated to be explained in scientific terms.
  • That consciousness is a term from folk psychology which as neuroscience proceeds will be replaced by computational algorithms.
  • That evolution and genetics teach that ethics are an evolved property of humans, interpretable through the new discipline of evolutionary psychology.

Then he goes on to insist that the brain is not isolated meaning that it is embodied. In turn, the body is also embedded in the environment which means that it is eco-niche. To him, the body is shaped by the environment and the environment does not on its own overwhelm it since everyone has the ability to choose their own environments. A clear understanding of how this whole cycle comes about is vital to a better living.

In his works, Edelman attempts to relate the definition of consciousness “It is what you lose on entering a dreamless deep sleep, deep anesthesia or coma, what you regain after emerging from these states. The experience of a unitary scene composed variably of sensory responses, memories, situations ” to the wider concerns of social scientists and the humanities, with emphasis on what he simply terms as a "brain-based epistemology", which considers as the gap-filling material between the cultures as held in the west.

Edelman and other prolific scientists highly disapprove the Darwinian theory of natural selection. According to him, it can be argued that although the environment shapes the growth of the body cells and hence the brain, it is important to remember that a developing individual (such as a child) also plays a role in deciding and shaping their environment.

Basing on the sophistication of the cerebral architecture and the numerous nerves that connects the brain cells and the whole body; it becomes vivid that, with the tremendous advances in the fields of the scientific study of memory and neuroscience, being knowledgeable in this field is invaluable (Webster, 1930).

Knowledge is power. And the more power we have, the more secure we can presumably be. This is logically viable because we need to know how to deal with problems of neural disturbances, memory loss, unconsciousness and brain disorders at all levels and in every setting in our entire lives, whether at a personal level or a community level.

Aristotle says: “For the persons who possess a retentive memory are not identical with those who excel in the power of recollection; indeed, as a rule, slow people have a good memory, whereas those who are quick-witted and clever are better at recollecting.” in his work, “On Memory and Reminiscence (ca. 350 B.C)”.

If we follow the observation that was made by Aristotle, we make no mistakes in finding out the true nature of our fellow human beings and develop a reasonable understanding of the way some people would respond to different things in the day to day living. To develop a more understanding of such facts, more and more of materials that deal with the functionality of the human brain and so we become fully conscious about ourselves rather than let things the way they are with the hope and deception that our environment is the sole reason for our development.

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