Saturday, March 7, 2009

How is our knowledge organized in our memory?

I want to start this week’s blog with a shout out to Dottie – I’m giving her an “I love your blog” Award.

Last week she gave me my second Premio Daras Award and though I’ve only just discovered her blog, it has me hooked. This is a wonderful site and one you won’t want to miss. Please check it out. Dottie

Now, for this weeks blog. The answer depends on our ATTENTION. Even then, if we give our full attention to something, we’ll be lucky to logically deduce half of it correctly. Without full attention, we’re in big trouble.

John B. Best in his book Cognitive Psychology says, our abilities to survival in the world around us often depends on our abilities to correctly interpret ambiguous sensory input. In other words – our survival rest on our ability to interpret a words meaning with the intent it was spoken, not what was said. We can only pray the speaker is saying it with the same belief system we were raised in and has had the same experience in life that we’ve had, so we can understand what the speaker means when he say what he says.

EX: “I’m going now. I’ll be back.”

How do you interpret this sentence? Do you really know what is being said? O.K., I’ll give you some help. The sentence is in English. LOL…I’m kidding with you!
But seriously, tell me what you really know from this sentence.

The best you can tell me is, this person says he’s going somewhere and says he’ll be back, BUT where is he going and when will he return? Is he telling the truth? The speaker’s statement doesn’t really tell you anything, does it?

O.K., so how do you know what the speaker really means when he says he’s going and will be back? By reason of deduction. Logical reasoning. The way we store information in our memories that help us deduce what is being said.

When you hear the speaker say this, you turn and look at him. You see he has no luggage, so you reason he’s not leaving the town or even the country. You know him; he’s not the type to run away, right? You then notice he grabbed a couple bucks off the table and has left his wallet on the desk. You assume, without his I.D. he’s not going far and he doesn’t take his coat when he leaves, so you assume as well, he’ll return before nightfall…. So that answers when he’ll be back…right? BUT does it really?

All your reasonable deductions are based on assumptions. What your stored memory information is telling you. You’ve seen him do this a thousand times, so this is what you’ve reasoned will happen again…but will it?

When he said, “I’m going now”, why didn’t you assume he meant he was just stepping outside the door, instead of going somewhere near by? Maybe he didn’t take his coat because he’d bought a new one that he left in the car? Is he driving, walking or just standing by your backdoor? How do you know he didn’t pack a suitcase the day before when you were out and has left it in the barn? Can he be trusted? Is he running away?

So when he says, “I’m going now” did he really mean “I’m leaving this town and I won’t be back for some time, but I will come back one day”? How do you know the money he scooped off the table wasn’t something he wanted to add to the travel stash already stuffed into his pocket and the wallet you see on the desk has been emptied and left there for you to discard? Do you really know him? Has he been depressed and you didn’t notice?

Do any of us really know each other or just think we do?

How much of our personal speech is steeped in our religious beliefs, core beliefs and how we were raised, by whom we were raised, where we live and have lived, and what we have experienced in our lives? Or the time we were born in. Why is my logical deduction different than yours? Is there really a standard form or reasonable logic to go by?

Did you know our brains do not hear a negative? If you said, “Gosh, I just put on fifty pounds, I really shouldn’t eat that slice of chocolate cake.” Your brain hears, “Gosh, I just put on fifty pounds, I really should eat that slice of chocolate cake.” Your brain does not hear the shouldn’t in that sentence.

John B. Best in his book Cognitive Psychology explains it like this:

A woman friend of yours says to you: “In a picnic basket, she had peanut butter sandwiches and chocolate brownies….”

Your ear hears: “In the picnic basket, she had peanut butter…. book, leaf, roof, sample, always….”

And your subconscious ear hears: “Cat, large, day, apple, friend, every, select, sandwiches and chocolate brownies…”

It gets you to wondering why so many people misinterpret what is said and heard. Add to that confusion, national background and life experiences of the speaker as well as the listener. The speaker spews out something from her mouth that is tainted with all of her beliefs, feelings and experiences laced around the words she chose and the listener filter all that through her beliefs, experiences and feelings and what she thinks those words mean. WOW!!! It’s no wonder people misconstrue so much. And add to that the troubles of interpretation if our brains are overloaded with inner thoughts while the other person is talking.

In the above example: When the friend (we’ll call her Mary) speaks, the listener (Jane) hears Mary’s words while at the same time Jane’s brain is processing the book in her hand about the leaky roofs she has and was just about to fix when Mary came up to chat. While Mary is speaking, Jane sees a leaf falls past her vision and it is registered in her memory while her thoughts are wishing she had a sample of the glue she needed to repair the leaky roof. Jane also has a fleeting thought - why life always seems to poop on her. Leaky roofs tended to be a poop day - if you know what I mean.

All the while Jane’s subconscious brain if filtering in all the stimuli she saw and wasn’t even aware of, like the large black cat that crept across the street while she smelled Mary’s brownies, and subconsciously wondered if Mary was going to be a real friend and give her one. You have to have brownies on a poop day!

Now Jane’s unaware of the mixed feeling stirring in her because she felt Mary should know she wanted a brownie more than the apple she had waiting for her in the house because she’s starving on her crazy new diet…and how depressed she is because every day she checks and sees she hadn’t lost one ounce because she was stupid enough to believe she had selected the best diet. She hadn’t, but had too much pride to admit it. So she was forcing herself to stay on it just to prove everyone wrong. And save her hurting ego.

Imagine if you were Mary, and knew all this was going on in Jane’s subconscious mind while you’re talking to her. How much of what you said did she really hear?

Whew, I don’t know about you but I’m glad I can’t hear my brain or anyone else’s think…but it does make me wonder….how well do we really communicate with each other? And let’s not add the person with a chip on their shoulder, who bases everything they hears on that chip, as well as all their other beliefs and prejudices.

And what about the person who comes from a different state than you? Yap, the part of the country we come from also influences the way we think and talk. It makes you wonder how a person from another country will interpret the things you say, doesn’t it?
Remember the movie Crocodile Dundee? We laughed at him in New York and her in Australia…but it’s so true.

So, I want to know the way you think. How do you store the knowledge you get in your brain? How and what do you filter it through before you draw your conclusions? How much of what you say is burdened with your inner beliefs, or filtered through your religion? Does where you come from color your choice of words, your humor and beliefs? What was ingrained in you as a child…does it influence the way you see your world and others? The way you relate to people and the way you talk to them? How does the way you feel about yourself, color the way you hear things? Don’t forget how jealousy or envy play their part in your interpretation.

Did you give this read your full attention? I want to know what you think this article really said.


Just a reminder to keep an eye open for Judi Fennel's wonderful book ISBN#9781402220012 a Sourcebook, Titled, "In Over Her Head" will be out June 1st.
Use my link to Judi and read what L A Banks (The Vampire Huntress Legends Series), Jill Barnett (New York Times Best-selling Author), Virginia Farmer (Award-winning Author) and Lynda K. Scott (Star-Crossed Romance) said about "In Over Her Head". Makes it to my "TO BUY" list! Check it out! Oh, you've got to see the awesome and sexy COVER!!!


Judi Fennell said...

You are TOO kind. (and I'm sure you can figure out what I mean by that!) Thank you!

Houston A.W. Knight said...


LOL, well you got my full attention! But with the Irish way of organizing things in me head - it's not kindness darlin'...'tis only the truth. :-D

I love the write up on this book... it's so original. For those of you who haven't gone over to see Judi's blurb yet - it's about a hero named Reel and he's a Mer-man who helps the heroine, Erica Peck find a lost cache of diamonds from a sea monster! BTW, she terrified of the water. They escape to an Island...oh yes, we can guess what happens next - love and a whole lot more! ROMANCE! You've got to love it.
Can't wait for it release on June 1st!


My Blog 2.0 said...

Hi Hawk!

Thank you for the lovely award! Trying it on right now! See,
it fits! Don't I look pretty!

Went over to Judi's site and the book sounds amazing, too bad I have to wait until June :(, is it coming out in hardcover or paperback? My hubster is going to kill me if I bring home anymore books, but I can't help myself.

Now, Hawk, as for your blog today, I tried to give it my total attention, but to do so, I had to read it through twice, and then I still noticed by myself (my brain, I guess) categorizing other things around me; birds singing-chirping, the glare of the light on the computer screen, and music playing in the background from hubster's itunes. So, I guess in actuality, it's impossible to give it my entire attention. Also, as a trained speech pathologist, (betcha couldn't guess that!), I know language and communication (two different things) are filtered by many things; by experiences, personal beliefs and expectations, region, socio-economics, race, religion, and the list goes on..., but as far as how my brain interprets what other speakers say then I guess I a little more conscious of it, or I've had to think about it before, but I had no idea that bits and pieces were picked up and store in different areas according to whether it was consciousness or subconsciousness that interpreted the sounds, voices, etc. and their meanings. Sorry, if I'm being long winded, but shaking the cob webs out of my brain is hard work.

Think I'll stick to reading and writing, it's easier!

Thanks for the thought provoking blog!

Dottie :))

Vicki said...

Great post! Now, is this why I know I shouldn't eat that chocolate, but still do. ;)

I organize in my head all the time, but I have to also put it on paper. heehee

Okay, you know me, and ya know I always have a wee bit of questions running through me brain. So...are we assuming that the peron who's leaving, but will be back is someone we don't know? Cause, if Science Guy said that to me, I'd know where he was going and why. So...just asking

Lea said...


Yikes, damned if I know.lololololol

Most days I feel like my grey matter is firing of fewer synapses than it is meant too as it is. lol

My job is analytical in nature, i.e. I read a LOT of medical information every day, summarize the information and write an argument for court submission. Some of the reading is very dry and repetitive so I have to really concentrate to be able to par everything down and make it clear and concise.

So, what am I getting at here? I think the amount of attention we pay to what we are reading, watching on television etc. etc. Does depend on the nature of the reading material, what we are viewing etc. However, it also depends on how tired we are and how much information we have processed over the day.

There is also the issue of short versus long term memory and the later tends to have better recall as we age.

GREAT post as always Hawk!

I will check out Ms. Fennell's book, I enjoy paranormal - vamp stories.

Congrats on another blog award.


Judi Fennell said...

Hi everyone! (sheesh, this time change thing does NOT work for me in the Spring...)

I hope you all do enjoy the story - it's coming out in paperback (so Hubs won't kill you, Dottie, since the price is in single digits LOL). And, Lea, not vamps, but Mers. No bloodsucking but definitely a sexy guy :)

Hope you're all out enjoying the lovely weather (well, at least here on the East coast). I'll be heading outside in a bit to work on the 3rd book in the series, Catch of a Lifetime.

As always, Hawk, thank you!

Houston A.W. Knight said...


Glad to see you back for a visit!

LOL, Yeah, I'd say that award looks mighty nice on you young lady! Perfect!

Well, Judi and I have a few idea's planned for you girls for the next few months until the book comes out - so come back each week to see what's up. There will be an interview with Judi and I will be having a book give away contest that Judi will autograph just for the winner. So there's lots coming soon here! Oh, and don't forget to go to her site an enter her contest - she's giving a free stay at a romantic B&B in New Jersey or West Palm Beach!

Oh I hear you on the hubby's rules about NO MORE BOOKS, I've got mine saying the same thing! BUT hey, I've got to get this one...Judi's plot is just so NEW! I really think it will be a great read!

(((speech pathologist)))
AWESOME!!! That has to be a fascinating job!

(((I know language and communication (two different things)))
I totally agree with that!

((( are filtered by many things; by experiences, personal beliefs and expectations, region, socio-economics, race, religion, and the list goes on...)))
Again I have to agree on this point.

(((...but as far as how my brain interprets...I had no idea that bits and pieces were picked up and store in different areas according to whether it was consciousness or subconsciousness that interpreted the sounds, voices, etc. and their meanings.)))
It's interesting isn't it? That's why I thought I'd share it with you. I'm so glad you enjoyed the article.

(((Sorry, if I'm being long winded, but shaking the cob webs out of my brain is hard work.)))
LOL - ROTFLOL - girl, you're not long winded...I'm long winded - did you notice the length of this article...I was afraid most readers wouldn't finish it. LOL - so glad you did...twice!

Cyber hugs

Houston A.W. Knight said...

Sweet Vicki!

LOL - Always with the questions }:-/ what am I going to do with you? LOL

O.K., I don't think it would matter if you knew the person or not...there is only so much we can what a person says or does.

Now I'm not saying this could happen to you... and I thank the Gods it's never happened to me, but it does happen to many women or men have "thought" they knew their hubby or wife's words and found out differently, when they discover they are the only one who didn't know their mate was cheating.

What about the women/men who have been married to a mate for 40 years only to be told by their mate...that their mate wants a sex change, or is attracted to the same sex or has had a lover for that 40 years they've been married to them. And none of these people knew this about the person they thought they knew -

So, my question to you is -how much can we really know about a person?

Yes, I've given far stretched examples but I have had friends with these situations...far stretched as they sound...situations like this happens.

O.k., let's take examples closer to normal - what about parents with children who run away...and the parent says, "I never knew she was unhappy." This is her daughter...but she never knew.
Or the child that comments suicide leaving a devastated parent wondering what went wrong.

I ask you...if Julius Caesar knew Marcus Junius Brutus (his friend)had plotted his death, would he have gone to the meeting?

"Sometimes" those closest to us, are the ones we know least.

Just something to think about.


Houston A.W. Knight said...


Thank you for the congrats on my awards! They all came in at the same time! Talk about having a big ego for a week! LOL

Well your attention to medical summarizing has come in handy!
You're right - the condition of the mind has a lot to do with how the brain interprets what it hears. The ego does as well.

There are so many factors that affect the way we hear and understand things around us.

I've always been interested in human nature and the way it works...or doesn't work. LOL


Houston A.W. Knight said...


Thank you for stopping by to comment, it's always exciting when an author drops in.

Glad to hear it's in paperback. Now our hubbies won't scream so loud. LOL

Yes, all of us are looking forward to your Mer-man book...anything with a man and woman lost on an Island has got to be sexy!

Oh, the series sound awesome too! Can't wait!
So get those pubs to hurry it up! June seems soooo far away and we're ready now!! LOL


~Sia McKye~ said...

Humor and word choices do come from the region you live in. I think as a child, moving so much, half of the settling in, was learning how the words used around me actually meant. The next thing was learning how they said certain words so I didn't sound like I was new in the area.

The brain is rather phenomenal in it's ability to focus on one thing and have multiple streams of other thoughts flowing at the same time. That's never more apparent than when I think, "oh, I'd better take the chicken out to thaw for dinner" and my body is in motion before the thought is complete. I take 6 steps out of my office and step up to the dinning room and stop...what was I going to do? Taking notes, it's saved me more than once.

My thinking processes...hmmm.I tend to think in steps and the outside stimuli I filter in helps with the remembering. Kind of like when you lose something they tell you to retrace your steps...Of course my brain also leaps to all sorts of seemingly unrelated thoughts...

Thank god for notes...

Houston A.W. Knight said...


I'd be lost without notes! And the notes I make about the notes...LOL

The mind is a wonderful thing isn't it?