What was this post about? Again?

I want to write a short post about memory. It’s something I, and everybody else, experience every day. I am convinced that memory is trained, it’s not a fluid and organic process that withers naturally over time. I, for one, think that memory is like RAM on a computer, it can be curated and organised as such that it can be accessed and reviewed at any time. I agree with those who consider that short term memory is the same for all of us, short and prejudiced, it relies on what is a priority and subjective to our individual brains, if our brains don’t think it needs this information, it expels it in about three seconds or so. I think that after stroke, our brains may have trouble accessing this information in the same way it has trouble accessing the information to our vestibular system (balance), or our brains are overworked and less likely to be able to easily reach into our hippocampus and withdrawal information, or our brains are prioritising the immediate conundrum … not where did I put that thing but summoning the thoughts of trying to think about where did I put that thing. That in itself takes brain energy away. I’m no memory expert, and am not in any way, shape or form able to breakdown the consequences of degenerative brain diseases like dementia, but I do think that post stroke, our memories can be sharpened, indeed, more so than someone who has not incurred a brain injury.



It’s 3.00 a.m. I’ll stir a little chaos into the mix.

This is not for the sensible, who sleep at night, waiting for the sun to appear, once again, over there in the East where light gestates and will soon be morning born. Where life is brought as ever into the world.

The mind is a complex process, maybe it can be described in non-technical terms that will define some of its processes.

As far as I see it, we navigate using memory. The senses feed us a chaos of data. We begin to build memory by recognising patterns in that chaos. I’ve seen this before. I recognise this. I know this.
This happened before.

We begin to tie all this together and then these patterns begin to associate. We know this goes with that, they go together and appear together.

We begin to build a form constructed of patterns that occur frequently together, with separate bits, very different bits, graduations of difference.

Gradually the chaos of patterns turns into recognisable forms which we label with names that we can use to describe experience, shared experience, that something which we view as a reality.

Sometimes the chunks of collected patterns are very similar, other times variable, we can label these chunks as memories. Each memory is distinct from the others and we begin to perceive time. This was before that, this only just happened. That might well happen.

This happened when I was here, that happened when I was there. They were very similar events, divided by their association with places, times, other events.

And here we are wading around in memory. These chunks are images, sometimes fixed and sometimes changing. We can take one of these images and manipulate it. It can be something we aspire to achieve. It can be something away from which we flee as if from danger.

Now we are floating around in the mind, the past, the present, and the future, flicker around. We begin to make choices, judgements. We become motivated or hover at rest.

Approach a keyboard and create thoughts, words, images, chunks, a chaos of patterns, overwhelming, manageable, recognisable, elusive, strange, different, new.

As human beings, despite our elevated sense of ourselves, I don’t believe we were created to handle the complexities of this kaleidoscope and what we see in it.

Enjoy it, participate in it, but attempt to tie it down at your peril.

Is there, was there, will there be, a garden of Eden?
It is 3.00 a.m. what could there possibly be.

keep on keepin’ on
:writing_hand: :smiley: :+1:


@Rups my post stroke memory patterns have changed a lot. Not in particular short term or long term, but as a whole. I’ve never before had problems in this department and so I find myself now regularly testing my capabilities as I dread the onset of any form of dementia. For example, I might turn on my camera and go through all the operating settings trying to remember exactly how to achieve certain results. Before my stroke I would learn such a menu and easily go back and do it again, but now I have to think really hard about it. Something which was second nature like removing and refitting a car battery becomes a memory test. Is it positive before negative, or is it negative before positive. Before my stroke I wouldn’t even have to think about it. Where the hell are my Allen keys? Does the left hand jar contain salt or sugar? It’s all a constant rolling test and I curse myself when I get things wrong.
I did go through all the standard cognitive tests with the stroke team and did well but life’s practicalities are somewhat different. I do tend to occasionally lose the thread in a conversation, or forget a simple word but I used to do that anyway so nothing has changed drastically there. Nothing that I can’t reasonably blame on fatigue or anxiety anyway. The only consolation is that unstroked people I know often seem to have worse memory capabilities than me. So I cling to the hope that anything not quite correct is just down to my advancing years, a half expected decline and not the beginnings of something far more sinister.


Good morning @Rups. This is a subject I continue to work on almost 3 years post stroke.
Memory is integral to daily independent functioning. I really struggled with the realisation I cannot rely on it as I once did.
I think there is some scope for practicing which at least exercises pathways. I do daily sudoku, which trains me into logical, ordered thinking engaging short term memory. I try and read from a novel daily. Initially I had to be very choosy about the type as I couldn’t follow the plot due to problems remembering the characters. With time and practice, as long as I read almost daily I can read almost anything I want.
I volunteer in a charity shop and use the trick of leaving the money a customer gives me on top of the till until after I give them their change as I am aware I may not remember what they gave me.
I think practice, strategies and being aware of my weak points allows me the best chance of improving where I can and provides coping mechanisms for where I can’t.
As I am too aware I will not commit to memory inconsequential stuff, if there is something important I try and attach an important flag to it in my head with a logical bias as to why I am doing x y or z and this helps.
Thank you for raising this, logically working through this also helps me.


Memory is a collective term for a lot of processes that are performed in different places for different purposes with different characteristics.

So to talk about a single explanation is an oversimplification to the point approaching meaningless

There is receipt, encoding, storage, decoding, salience evaluation, use or discard. Also the brain and the central and peripheral nervous systems have cleaning out processes that discard unused formation in storage (which must be an element of the salience again)

The whole operates over the boundary between conscious single tasking and subconscious multitasking procedures.

For example the Broadbent Filter detects in your auditory channel sounds that are of interest to you and extracts them from the cacophony that you’re ear is actually hearing - this is the phenomenon of hearing your name spoken in a room full of loud conversation. That is a combination of subconscious, salience and conscious mind.

Mind is also different from brain/ CNS/PNS. Short-term midterm and long-term are also different mechanisms. Visual, auditory, scents, movements/ sensations and emotions and symbolic are also different served by different processes. all of that is before we examine the difference between storage and ability to retrieve.

And the whole lot needs to be balanced against Chomsky’s observation that we spend an awful lot of the time engaged in Distortion, Deletion And Generalisation of our observations of the world such that what we actually store is merely a (current) perception of what was actually there.

Now add to that that a stroke Will have damaged random subsets of the machinery that these hugely networked and overlapping processes run within and we now have the beginnings of sufficient components to start a discussion - and then add neuroplasticity…


I enjoyed the polar responses from @SimonInEdinburgh and @Bobbi to this topic :joy:, and then the other replies like cream in one of Bobbi’s cakes. Aye, Bobbi, memory is fascinating, especially when scrutinising it from a DNA or Jungian perspective, and Simon, aye, it does have a manifold role in the whole ID of mind and brain. @Strings, I have found that people around me now tend to rely on my memory, even though my brain has been challenged in that respect. I worked on my memory from day dot of being stroked, and this is why I also enjoy video games because the kinds of games I play, rely heavily on memory. I think, after stroke, many might feel that in some way their memory is deteriorating, but I would like to advocate memory training as a way to quash this fear. As @JuliaH practices with her sudoku, a puzzle game I have never played but know others who do, there are many other ways to prime the memory function. I think it is easy for our brains to get lazy, and for us think that memory function is something that just runs in the background, and when it is kaput, that’s it. When I was younger and would read like nobodies business, I felt I had to understand and remember every paragraph in a book. If I forgot parts, I would, benignly, beat myself up about it. I used to pride myself in being able to recall most, if not all of a novel’s story. This meant I read very slowly, rereading the previous page sometimes three or four times. Then I came across a book by Henry Miller on writing and reading, and he said that the art of reading a book is almost as difficult as writing one. He endorsed the idea of letting the mind wander through the story and not get hung up on drawing blanks. It made reading less of a chore. I passed on this principle to a friend of mine who was ruffled that he didn’t remember the name of someone we had met the previous week. He is convinced his memory is deteriorating before his very eyes, but I remembered that person’s name because of their smell. It was a scent that was familiar to me but I couldn’t place when or where. My friend, however, had picked up nothing specific about that person, so his brain just lobbed the information into the void.

This isn’t to say that there might be specific brain damage that affects memory directly. I don’t know, but I do think for the general stroke population, memory training can produce positive results and is satisfying. It also helps stroke survivors feel more in control of their brains which makes life just a little easier and builds confidence.


I Don’t think you’re talking about memory at all in the latter stages of that last post! :slight_smile:

Your talking about recall.

Scent is a sense embedded in the reptilian components of our brains. Primitive & powerful.
The recollection of a memory by linkage between the senses such as the symbolic representation of the person by a label that evokes language through the association of a remembered smell illustrates the overlapping and integrated networks of cognition

Did your friend recognise the name when he heard you repeat it? If so this illustrates another component which is recognition which embodies the comparison with a now accessed memory.

An analogy I think you might be equal to is MS windows’ UI design is based on recognition and unix is based on recall. To optimise our working models in everyday life when we have confidence in the whole process cycle of sense filter store tag and then the subsequent recall we generally take the Unix approach. Post stroke with functions being damaged the windows approach becomes an alternative that adds compensations to cover deficits.

On the polar aspects I value the diversity too.

I’m deeply dismayed to discover the stroke association are deleting posts where they don’t agree there is scientific debate of correlations and cause and effect linkages - I think that’s a very dangerous road

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It was more to illustrate that my friend thought his capacity to remember was failing which I assured him it was not. Many people around me, those creeping over the middle-aged line, have expressed this fear, and I suspect it causes them unnecessary worry, and I also suspect that it might be a concern many stroke survivors have, whether it be remembering or memory, both stem from the same Latin root. Training memory can be a challenging but fulfilling aspiration post-stroke.

I haven’t noticed any deleted posts, but sometimes I struggle to play catch up if I’ve missed a few threads, and some threads I don’t have much to add or the experience to contribute, so I might be missing out on these occurrences.

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Hi Rups,

In the book I’m reading “The Power of Neuroplasticity” by Shad Helmstteter (a self-help style of book) he suggests letting a new ‘fact’ linger in our brain a little longer than usual, perhaps viewing it from a couple of different angles. This way the Hippocampus can convert said ‘fact’ from short term memory to long term memory. Attaching an emotion can also help make something more colourful, and thus more memorable.

His 7 laws of taking control of our mind are :
(just so I can exercise my memory :grinning:)

  1. Mindfulness
  2. Choices
  3. Intent
  4. Focus
  5. Repetition
  6. Emotion
  7. Belief

Today I couldn’t remember the new gardener’s name, so I whispered to my wife (who is amazing with all names) and she prompted me “message to…?” “Ah, Michael,” I said, “see you in a fortnight.”

Ciao, Roland


That’s a good technique Roland, I might add that to my memory exercises.


Is stroke a burden?

Chuck it into the middle of the stream


it can become a stepping stone to something better.



Some interesting points that I think can be explored.

Choice is about decisions and all decisions are operation of the emotions and largely involving the amygdala - Which already has a very varied brain chemistry across the population before you add in the possible effects of an ABI.

Repetition is also a term that people miss translate. For muscles repetition means ’ doing the same thing over, to/ for the brain repetition means frequent encountering of approximately the same ‘actions’ in different contexts and repetition as in “rote” largely leads to reinforcing the forgetting process

Not sure that items are 3 and 7 intent and belief can be described as separate things. discussions the other day (to my mind at least) showed that mindfulness really named a state of absence of distraction - which makes sense to me because the conscious mind is a single tasking. Claims to multitask are actually time slicing with task switching. The subconscious however is truly multitasking & definitely is in touch with the conscious - I suspected/ expect at many points and I suspect the salience network has a large role to play in when attention is drawn by the subconscious for the conscious & vice versa

If we use the example of juggling (or violin playing) There is a migration of explicit to implicit knowledge, then the symbolic labelling of a collection of components understood implicitly which together form a capability - initially explicit - then symbolic manipulation of a population of capabilities - we label this process the acquisition of the skill

There is also in this learning journey the concepts of Shu Ha Ri - But maybe that’s for another day


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I could certainly do with practicing that. We’ve got so much going on at the moment, I’m finding I’m dropping as much new info as I’m taking in. It’s as well I’ve got my hubby and kids to remind to me of what I haven’t managed to retain :sweat_smile: Thanks for the tip :blush:

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