Good point. But aren't personal memories by their nature always something subjective, tainted by experience and other individual factors? Beyond the repetition of memorized of facts (such as school knowledge: alphabet, maths, poems etc) you could never get a completely objective information anyway. The fact that memories are something extremely versatile and individual is what makes the whole sector of memory-research so interesting. The general biochemical aspects are fairly well examined already but the rest is still a huge white spot on the brain map ("here be dragons"
Mr Awe wrote:
^ And, each time you access a memory you alter it slightly. There's apparently no such as a read-only operation in the brain. At least, if I'm understanding things correctly. This can be a good thing though because there are therapies that use this aspect to lessen the effect of traumatic events.
Yeah, as I mentioned earlier in the thread, memories are extremely inaccurate. When it comes down to it, they are merely very poor records of an imperfect reconstruction of incomplete sensory input. Not only are they subjective, and not only do they change every time you access them, as Mr Awe
said, but they can be easily made up out of whole cloth, and there is absolutely no way to distinguish between a true memory and an artificial memory for either the subject or the neurologist (both function the exact same way physically in the brain).
Another very interesting memory phenomenon is stolen memories. They happen most often between siblings, and I actually experienced this once -- I stole a memory from my sister.
As for music, there's been some really fascinating research into the unique nature of music in human brains. I think sometimes people are in awe of how powerful music is at triggering memories, or as a nemonic (everyone can remember song lyrics to hundreds, if not thousands of songs, but would be hard-pressed to memorize the same amount of text from a novel), but I think sometimes people don't realize is that music is a form of language, just a different form.
The unique thing about human language (at least as is known thus far) is its musicality. Lots of species have words -- for specific things, actions, events, etc., indeed, many higher-order primates have speech like this, and dolphins too. Birds have music, and it is definitely used as a form of language, with different songs communicating different things. But humans are the only species that have both. We have words for things but also tonality, and that separates our language from other animals, and could be why our language is so much more advanced. Some have even postulated that early humans sang to each other before they spoke, which is a hypothesis I absolutely love, because it is excellent picturing caveman opera.
For me, music is a very important part of my life, since I was a musician from a young age, and I can read music. It brings back very powerful memories from childhood, and very strong feelings. However, my earliest memories are completely silent, because I was deaf until age 4.