Philosophy

Our senses, tagging and a possible explanation of dreams

Senses dont have memories unless we tag them !

Imagine some happening in your childhood – say, a school on fire at night with one window falling off after a while. As you age a lot of things gets stored into your memory. So if someone mention you the word “fire” it gives lot many recall, added to that the word “night” also gives quite a few. Now if the word “school” is mentioned or even maybe the word “falling window” then 90% or more chance that you will recall this event in your childhood. In modern day world we call this tags – the human brain also does the same thing unconsciously with every event and whenever we come across these tags in a particular order the mind pulls the event on the visual sketchpad and we recall them.

The strange thing is these also happens unconsciously. How often we come across something beautiful like maybe a warm cup of coffee with some beautiful friend or a good song with romantic words or an evening sun with a cool drink in hand… Our senses don’t have memories but whenever we do something or experience something we have a unconscious tendency to compare with some past experience to measure the feeling and mark it as better or worse or similar. This happens when the tags are repeated.

Our senses really don’t have memories but its our mind which ‘tags’ every sense with some experience and remember them or store them – and that causes this comparison or conflict. If we like something – maybe a song or a book or a food we take it as a good feeling – we become so habituated that we do the tagging unconsciously. the brain stores the sense (in effect it should not have) with that particular image for future reference. So different people come up with different point of view for the same object!

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The other interesting thing is that the process of tagging also solves another mystery – dreams. When we sleep the mind still works and reorganizes the memory – short term and long term in different sections ( The part called Hippo-campus in our brain does this function – Ref: Squire & Zola-Morgan, 1991) (Drachman & arbit, 1966; Squire, 1982) (Benjamin, Hopkins, & Nation, 1994, p.284). Now this process is somewhat like the de-fragmentation of your computer hard drive which optimizes space and performance. In our brain each event gets organized and the corresponding tags also. So during the process of transforming memory whenever there a sequence of tags formed in a particular fashion (even partly) the mind visualizes an event on the visual-spatial sketch pad . Now this event can be funny, weird, sad, exciting, absurd anything at random – as there are millions of possible combination of tags into a realistic story-board. Say for example – you can see yourself having a cup of coffee with George Bush while sitting on the third level of Eiffel Tower – anything. Dreams cannot be something which we have not seen ever or experienced ever – sometimes we might think it as new – but basically its a fusion or combination of tags which makes it seem new.

Coming back to the tagging of senses – a song arouses a feeling of melancholy or a nostalgia simply because it was tagged with some other events. A coffee tastes bad or good not from the taste it delivers but from the silent review by the mind which compares it with some past event based on the same tagging. That’s the reason why instead of enjoying a beautiful sunset we have a feeling of sadness or something missing.

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It is very difficult to see something with a clean mind free of prejudice or perceived notions unless we let go of the system of tagging consciously. Its difficult as of now as even though we have made some technical progress we are still in a nascent stage of mental evolution. Humanity stands divided on the basis of notions – notions on race, color, religion, nation, language, economy. So every time we experience something or meet someone in any given circumstance – the brain on the background compares it with something in the past using “Tags” and gives it a different shade. But a child will enjoy anyone’s company as his or her mind is free of any notions and will appreciate every experience – a child is always happy.The past is always within us and takes strong hold of the present and also the future which again creates all the conflict in us.

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Desh Kapoor

The panache of a writer is proven by the creative pen he uses to transform the most mundane topic into a thrilling story. Desh - the author, critic and analyst uses the power of his pen to create thought-provoking pieces from ordinary topics of discussion. He writes on myriad interesting themes. Read the articles to know more about his views and "drishtikone".

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