Tag Archives: Attention

Just discovered that there are psychologists who study involuntary autobiographical memories (IAMs)

Involuntary autobiographical memories are of special interest to me because I experience visual memories of scenes, a face, complete personalities of real people from my past and autobiographical memories of learning about specific concepts as synaesthesia concurrents, which means that when I encounter experiences that trigger these synaesthesias I involuntarily experience one of these types of IAMs. So, one could say that at least for me the IAM experience is just another broad category of synaesthesia that I experience. So does that mean that the IAM experiences of people thought to not be synaesthetes are in fact also synaesthesia, or are the resemblances between our experiences just superficial? At this blog I have previously described types of synaesthesia experienced by me that are triggered by performing over-learned fine motor movements (housework and grooming manual chores) which have concurrents that are visual memories of scenes of locations or learned concepts. I have also noted that my random uncontrolled thoughts become more creative and fluent with greater accessibility to concepts and memories while I am performing spatial-movement tasks such as showering or driving or walking. So I was rather astounded when I read this in a paper about IAMs from The Psychologist from a year ago:

“IAMs occur spontaneously without any deliberate intention to recall anything. In fact they are most likely to occur when individuals are engaged in regular, automatic activities that are not attentionally demanding, such as walking, driving or eating.”

Actually, these activities are attentionally demanding, but maybe not demanding on the conscious, verbal parts of the brain. I think the thing that really matters about these tasks are that they are spatial-motor tasks which activate the parietal lobe, which just also happens to be a region of the brain that plays a central role in many cases of synaesthesia. My theory is that there is a category of IAMs which are a subtype of synaesthesia in which experiences that are obviously autobiographical memories are the synaesthesia concurrents and motor-spatial processes are the synaesthesia inducers. I have also previoiusly put forward the theory that synaesthesia concurrents are actually memories of one or another type, rather than randomly and mysteriously generated experiences or sensory experiences.

I believe that IAMs cannot be studied or understood without the study and knowledge of synaesthesia, because many instances of IAMs are synaesthesia of one type or another, and the whole IAM phenomenon is very similar to synaesthesia in the way it works. Despite my observations, in the paper in The Psychologist by Bradley, Moulin and Kvavilashvili I could find no mention of synaesthesia at all. I think there is a lot of work to be done in this area of research.

Rosemary J. Bradley, Chris J.A. Moulin and Lia Kvavilashvili Involuntary autobiographical memories. Psychologist. March 2013 Volume 26 Part 3 p.190-193.

http://www.thepsychologist.org.uk/archive/archive_home.cfm?volumeID=26&editionID=223&ArticleID=2237

UWA seminar on Tuesday could be interesting

“In this seminar, I will present data on three inter-related aspects of attentional focusing: the spatiotemporal dynamics of focusing, object representations and their role in focusing, and the consequences of focusing on visual processing.”

I’m quite interested in visual processing, although I’m not a professional researcher in psychology. I’m not a professional researcher in anything at all. I don’t get paid, I think in my own time. If I were to follow the current zeitgeist I’d be playing sport instead of thinking (Australia has a federal minister for sport but none for science I believe), but I’m not one to follow trends.

The speaker of this upcoming seminar at UWA is Dr. Lisa Jefferies. Unless I am mistaken, another area of research that she has explored is face perception, but there is no hint that face perception will be covered in this seminar.

To be (broad) or not to be (broad): The dynamics of attentional focusing. Science Network Western Australia. http://www.sciencewa.net.au/component/ohanah/to-be-broad-or-not-to-be-broad-the-dynamics-of-attentional-focusing.html

Lisa Jefferies http://www2.psych.ubc.ca/~ennslab/Vision_Lab/Lisa_Jefferies.html

Colloquium:  To be (broad) or not to be (broad).  http://events.uwa.edu.au/event/20130910T045244Z-2131-4946@events.uwa.edu.au/whatson/Faculty%20of%20Education

Listen to the grey

Killing Joke are one of the bands from the 1980s that I used to enjoy during my youth, and which I have recently rediscovered. I was amazed that this band has been cited as a musical influence for an incredible range of bands, including some of my present-day absolute favourites. Tool, a band that has the coloured music synaesthete Justin Chancellor for a bass player, are one of the bands who cite Killing Joke as an influence. I find this intriguing because I experience the music of both Tool and Killing Joke as predominantly coloured in dark grey. I enjoy this music in spite of the drabness of the colour evoked, but I must admit that there are times when I hesitate to pick up their CDs to play when I think of all that greyness.

Killing Joke had a hit way back then with Love Like Blood. The keyboard sound in this song is a highlighter-pen salmon pink in my mind, the guitar sound darkish grey, and the singer’s voice moves between golden yellow to brown if I pay attention to it, but as it isn’t a particularly interesting voice I tend not to pay attention to it, so these yellow-brown colours tend not to be evoked, so this song is predominantly dark grey. Men’s speaking and singing voices all tend to be brown, with higher pitch turning the brown to gold or yellow.

I don’t think the lyrics and the title of this song had any influence on my colour synaesthesia – there is no red or any bloody colours in among the colours that I see in my mind’s eye when I listen to this track, but if you listen carefully the colour grey is mentioned in the lyrics. I would have viewed the video clip for this song back in the 1980s, but I seem to have not been influenced by the red and purple and yellow featured in this video clip. Synaesthesia is not mere suggestibility, I think of it as an extra level of appreciation and enjoyment of music, very directly influenced by the sounds and the structures and the emotions of music.

Wikipedia contributors Killing Joke. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Killing_Joke&oldid=413969805

Love Like Blood by Killing Joke on YouTube
http://www.youtube-nocookie.com/v/TnpwuRlXbhk?fs=1&hl=en_US