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Alison R. Mouratis's picture

Implicit Memory

I feel really sad right now. I found this week's reading very interesting, but in particular "The Last Hippie" really pulled at my heartstrings. Imagine, for example, you are the last one to know that your parents are getting a divorce. Your argument would be, of course, "Impossible! I would know if that were the case!" And then you may feel rotten and glum. But then imagine that within a few minutes you’ve forgotten about that conversation entirely. I simply cannot imagine. I thought it was very profound when the author admitted, though, that if he had ever doubted Greg’s capacity for deeper feeling, he no longer doubted it after seeing his gut reaction to hearing of his father’s death. One part in particular really made me think, once more, of the conscious and unconscious. When they brought Greg in for Braille lessons, he proclaimed, “What is going on? Do you think I’m blind? Why am I here, with blind people all around me?” It made me think about the idea that perhaps, somewhere deep down inside his unconscious, Greg does indeed know that he is blind and with certain exercises, he could bring that thought into the conscious. And, perhaps, the new “facts” that he learns and then instantly forgets are actually hidden away in the unconscious. I think that that is possible and perhaps even demonstrated when he would get up in the middle of the night saying he had lost something and was looking for it right after the news of his father’s death. Maybe, then, these thoughts and facts that seem to disappear actually just slip away into an area of the brain that we have not yet learned how to tap into. One thing that Dr. Sacks brings up is very interesting and ahs stuck with me: “But while Greg was so often unable to recall events or encounters or facts to consciousness, he might, nonetheless, have an unconscious or implicit memory of them, a memory expressed in performance or behavior.” 


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