Tag Archives: Concepts Associated With Visual Memories of Scenes

Pieces of Perth’s past lodged in my brain

I’ve noticed a few interesting things about the way that visual memory of scenes or landscapes is naturally and involuntarily connected with other types of thinking in some interesting ways in my mind, which seem to be like or related to synaesthesia. Perhaps the oddest and least “normal” of these is a type of synaesthesia that I experience in which hand movements while doing various specific chores trigger permanently but idiosyncratically linked visual memories of scenes. An example would be involuntarily seeing in my mind’s eye for a second or two a scene of the front of the family doctor’s suburban surgery which my family visited in the 1970s, with its glossy pea-green painted decorative woodwork and moist garden, when I would carefully slide in a decorative comb to keep my hair in place. I’ve also noticed that some people, including some of my other synaesthete relatives and myself, experience a visual/memory phenomenon that appears to be a naturally and spontaneously occurring version of the memory technique that is known as the method of loci. We have noticed that when we revisit and view a specific outdoor place where we learned new information in the past, we might find that the exact thought that we had been learning at that exact spot in the past is re-activated our minds automatically. The information previously learned is generally of a conceptual nature, the result of listening to talk radio or reading a book, but sometimes memories of specific pop songs heard in the past are evoked. An example would be remembering the concept of people being killed in the Black Saturday bushfires evoked by watching the scenery while being driven past the exact spot on Flinders Street in Yokine where one sat in a stationary vehicle stopped at traffic lights as one listened in 2009 to morning news on the car radio giving the first full confirmation of the seriousness of the disaster.

Another synaesthesia-like linking of visual memories with another type of thought would be the involuntary illustration of thinking about some specific concepts with scenes of visual memories that are sometimes semantically related, sometimes temporally or randomly linked, and often very dated. I might see a scene of trees on the Rockingham foreshore from decades ago when thinking about the concept of the most popular hits of the latter part of the career of the Beatles. Maybe the “rock” in Rockingham or the British migrants living there are the reason for the linking of these things. As an illustration for thinking of the concept of a nightclub I might see in my mind’s eye the dark and sparse interior of a bar (or was it a nightclub?) which I think was on the ground floor level among St George’s Terrace skyscrapers in the 1970s. Was it called “The Foxy Lady”? No joke, I think it was. It was the 1970s. It was the era of no taste and even less subtlety. Yes, I think there indeed was once a bar on the terrace called The Foxy Lady. How do I know what the inside of it looked like?

Listening to Heather Sellers’ autobiography

I’ve been listening to the interesting autobiography by prosopagnosic Heather Sellers, titled You Don’t Look Like Anyone I Know, in a compact disc format. I had wanted to borrow the book from the public library, but for some reason or another they decided to order it in a spoken word form. Perhaps they thought that face-blindness is a sub-set of ordinary blindness, and the readers who would be interested in the autobiography would have visual impairments or dyslexia. Actually, I’d like to know if there is any link between dyslexia and prosopagnosia, but I know for sure that there are plenty of prosopagnosics who do not report any issues with vision or reading at all.

I’ll admit that I haven’t found the time to listen to all nine discs. The content of disc number seven was particularly of interest to me, covering Ms Sellers’ discovery of her own prosopagnosia, the dreadful way that she was treated during the process of getting professionally diagnosed, in the time when prosopagnosia was thought of as a rare effect of stroke affecting mostly middle-aged men, and speculation about any possible link between her prosopagnosia and her mother’s mental illness. Some useful resources that Ms Sellers wrote about discovering were an academic reserch book by Andrew W. Young and the website Faceblind.org, which is still a very important resource about prosopagnosia. Ms Sellers contacted the face recognition researcher Brad Duchaine and also discovered an online community of prosopagnosics, mostly developmental cases who often saw prosopagnosia in family members, and some acting in the role of disability activist. Different approaches to disclosing prosopagnosia as a disability are touched upon. It’s interesting stuff for sure, and I thank Ms Sellers for sharing her story.

It is perhaps worth mentioning that as I listened to the CDs of Ms Sellers’ autobiography, as visual illustration of the story in my mind’s eye, my mind automatically retrieved some old visual memories from my past in Perth, Western Australia as settings for the story, even though they were probably not a close fit to the real settings of the real events described by the author Sellers from the US. For scenes set in the university in which Sellers was a student, my mind used my visual memories of the Joondalup Campus of the Edith Curtin University, specifically the lunch bar area next to a stairway. For scenes of the story that were set in residential areas my mind used old memories of old and run-down unrenovated two-story blocks of flats in Subiaco (which have probably been fixed up or demolished by now), and for interior shots of the author’s university residence my mind came up with some imagined spaces. Perhaps this effortless, involuntary and unconscious visualization while listening to a story is completely typical of the way all people listen to stories. Whether it is or not, it shows how visual memories are involuntarily and centrally involved with thinking processes that aren’t explicitly remembering or memory-related. Visual memory is not just a isolated function summoned up when we want to remember what something looked like. Visual memory is in the guts of cognition, it is more than a record of past sensory experiences, and this is why I am not surprised that visual memories come up so often (in my own experience) as synaesthesia inducers and concurrents associated with other cognitive functions that appear to have little relation with visual memory, such as fine-motor learned skills and thinking about very abstract concepts. The automatic use of visual memories when I am thinking about a story that I’m listening to shows that visual memory is not just a narrow function of the mind, and I think it also shows that there is little point in trying to make a distinction between memory and imagination, as both appear to be functions that are beyond conscious control, at least in some situations.

I’ve just discovered a resource for people who have an isolated problem of getting lost or inability to orient in their physical environment

While I was looking at online resources for people who have prosopagnosia, or a disability in recognizing faces, I came across what looks like an important resource for people who have another isolated disability which is sometimes associated with prosopagnosia,  an inability to orient in a physical environment. The title of this website is “Developmental topographical disorientation: a lifelong condition”. The term “developmental” denotes that this is a condition that those affected naturally and probably genetically are destined to develop. Most developmental brain-based conditions manifest in early childhood. Prosopagnosia, synaesthesia and autism are some examples of neurodevelopmental conditions. I guess there is probably an acquired, non-developmental version of this disorientation condition that can be caused by brain damage or stroke. I also guess that developmental topographical disorientation would be a different condition to the type of disorientation that results from altered states of consciousness or from an acquired type of visual agnosia that results from dementia or Benson’s syndrome. The website that I’ve discovered appears to be run by two highly qualified academics and researchers who work in universities in Canada who appear to be experts in this condition: Assistant Professor Giuseppe Iaria and Professor Jason J S Barton.

I think developmental topographical disorientation would have to be the same type of problem that the famous neurologist, writer and prosopagnosic Dr Oliver Sacks experiences and has written about in his book The Mind’s Eye and in his interesting article about prosopagnosia which was published in the New Yorker magazine. The scientific study of this type of problem is clearly in it’s infancy, and one problem that is often a feature of new areas of academic inquiry is a lack of standardization of the terminology. I’m really not sure which is the proper term for this orientation problem, or whether there are genuinely different varieties of this problem which have their own terms. Iaria and Barton use the term “developmental topographical disorientation”, Sacks used the term “topographical agnosia” and Sacks wrote that Dr D. Frank Benson, who was the first person to formally describe Benson’s syndrome or posterior cortical atrophy used the term “environmental agnosia” to describe patients who get lost in their own neighbourhoods or homes, and I’ve come across the term “agnosia for scenes” which seems to be the same type of thing. I’ve read about people who can’t recognize landcapes or scenes, and also people who can’t recognize specific landmarks, which seem to be different visual disabilities. It’s all very confusing, and I hope some clarity and standardization in this area of research will become clear, for the sake of the people who experience these issues.

I’m interested in this stuff not because I have any problems in orienting, but because I experience one type of synaesthesia in which visual memories of scenes of landscapes, some of them very old memories, are the “concurrents” or additional synaesthesia experiences triggered by thinking about specific concepts or performing very specific fine-motor household chores. I have fully described these types of synaesthesia experiences, which to my knowledge have never before been scientifically described, in a number of different posts at this blog (click on the applicable tags to find them). My guess is that my ability to orient using memories of scenes should be superior, or the opposite of topographical disorientation for a number of reasons. There seems to be a link between prosopagnosia and topographical disorientation, and I’m the opposite of a prosopagnosic in that I’ve attained some perfect scores in some tests of face recognition and thus could be a super-recognizer, and so if face and scene recognition are linked I should also have great scene recognition. I also have synaesthesia that involves visual memories of scenes, and according to research about syneasthesia, superior ability is often found in synaesthetes in the cognitive functions which are involved with their synesthesia. I also believe that an awareness of scenes and a sense of place has an unusual prominence in the way that I think and experience life. This website that I’ve just discovered links to some tests of orientation ability, so I hope I will be able to find some more spare time to have a go at these tests to see whether my prediction about my ability in this area might be true.

One last comment about the Developmental topographical disorientation website; I wonder if it is only a coincidence that two of the artworks displayed at this website, which both illustrate the concept of spatial landscapes and orienting, are the creations of two synaesthete artists – David Hockney and Vincent van Gogh? I wonder, do synaesthete artists display a more developed sense of space and place? How could one research this question in an objective manner? And what kind of art would people who have topographical disorientation create? Could this condition be diagnosed through art or drawing tests?

Developmental topographical disorientation: a lifelong condition    http://www.gettinglost.ca/Home.html

Concept to scene synaesthesia: my experiences and others’ experiences

Synaesthesia linking concepts with scenes – maybe not so hard to explain, and maybe not really so strange? (includes comments) https://superrecognizer.wordpress.com/2011/06/04/synaesthesia-linking-concepts-with-scenes-%e2%80%93-maybe-not-so-hard-to-explain-and-maybe-not-really-so-strange/

Invitation for comments (includes comments) https://superrecognizer.wordpress.com/2011/03/18/invitation-for-comments/

Another case of synaesthesia linking scenes and concepts, from Austin in Texas?   https://superrecognizer.wordpress.com/2011/03/12/another-case-of-synaesthesia-linking-scenes-and-concepts-from-austin-in-texas/

A brief report on my synaesthesia experiences that involve concepts as triggers or evoked experiences  https://superrecognizer.wordpress.com/2011/03/11/a-brief-report-on-my-synaesthesia-experiences-that-involve-concepts-as-triggers-or-evoked-experiences/

Why the big deal? Redefining synaesthesia.  https://superrecognizer.wordpress.com/2011/07/17/why-the-big-deal-redefining-synaesthesia/

Why the big deal? Redefining synaesthesia.

You might be wondering why I am so interested in documenting and naming the various types of synaesthesia that I experience which appear to have never been reported scientifically or anecdotally before, experiences such as concept -> scene synaesthesia, fine motor task -> scene synaesthesia and The Strange Phenomenon. You might also be wondering why I’m so excited to find that there are other people who report experiences that seem to fall into the category of concept -> scene synesthesia. These three types of synaesthesia are, I believe, of scientific importance because they are indeed synaesthesia, but they also violate the third criteria for identifying synaesthesia that was stated years ago by the US neurologist and pioneer of synesthesia science, Richard Cytowic. Cytowic’s list of synaesthesia criteria can be seen at the Wikipedia’s article about synaesthesia. Criteria number three is thus:

3. Synesthetic percepts are consistent and generic (i.e., simple rather than pictorial).

My experiences of concept -> scene synaesthesia, fine motor task -> scene synaesthesia and The Strange Phenomenon range from very consistent to fairly consistent, but the visual synaesthesia experiences triggered in these types of synaesthesia are most certainly not “generic” or simple. These are most certainly pictorial experiences, they are visual memories of landscape scenes and of one particular face.

I’m not too alarmed that I have synaesthesia experiences that don’t appear to conform to some rules of synaesthesia definition, because as I’ve seen during the years that I’ve been reading about this fascinating neurological condition, the definition of synaesthesia has been changing a lot over the years, and is still in the process of evolution and scientific development, as is abundantly clear from Dr Julia Simner’s recent journal paper about defining synaesthesia. I hope you find this as interesting as I do!

 

External references

Simner, Julia Defining synaesthesia. British Journal of Psychology. 2010 Oct 12. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 20939943 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20939943

Wikipedia contributors Synesthesia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Synesthesia&oldid=439113699

 

Another instance comes to mind, of my concept -> visual scene synaesthesia

The concept of the sense of freedom, confidence and peace that can be acquired by travelling alone in a remote place -> a not very interesting scene at a track leading onto a main road somewhere near Finke Station, Chamber’s Pillar and a barren landscape of meteorite craters in the NT.

I’ve heard on the radio that the Finke Desert Race has recently been run. I’ve travelled part of this track myself, and it was a most odd experience. Dirt tracks that have been driven on too fast develop corrugations, which can be hard to travel on and can cause quite dangerous driving conditions. The dirt track that was I assume used for this Finke race was, at the time that I visited many years ago, not so much corrugated as waved. Driving along it in my 4WD was more like voyaging on a choppy sea in my Dad’s boat than driving in the desert – scary and funny at the same time. Who would have thought that seasick tablets would be required for a desert trek? I imagine this track would be a very noisy place during the race, but when I was there the lack of sound was incredible. The tiniest bird tweets were striking. Much of the scenery from this track was also striking. I recall seeing the type of landscape that is known as “jump ups”. Unfortunately I can find no photographs of beautifully eroded hills of this distinctive shape. The famous Chamber’s Pillar gives some idea of what this looks like.

Here are some images of scenery from this area:

http://wallpapersuggest.com/sandstone_tower_chambers_pillar_historical_reserve_northern_territory_australia_wallpapersuggest_com-wallpapers.html

http://www.exploroz.com/Places/78085/NT/Gosses_Bluff_Meteorite_Impact_Crater.aspx

a piece of music that seems to resonate with the idea of travelling alone through stunning desert scenery – Better Living Through Chemistry by the Queens of the Stone Age:
http://www.youtube-nocookie.com/v/WVE90vGS9ps?version=3&hl=en_US

More most interesting comments

(this post edited a number of times June 17th 2011)

I have recently received another most interesting comment at this blog, this one a comment on the previous post “Synaesthesia linking concepts with scenes”, and I have replied with my own comment that is as long a blog post. We had quite a discussion about our similar, but not identical, brain-based experiences. You might find this interesting. Many thanks to the people who have shared accounts of their experiences!

This means I now know of four people living in four different countries, including myself here in Australia, who experience or apparently experience visual scenes triggered by thinking of particular concepts. One thing that I and some others want to know is how common this experience is. I suspect that we are a not-insubstantial minority, but I know of no published information about or published descriptions of this phenomenon. If anyone can let me know about any such already-published information about this type of experience, I’d be very appreciative. I believe it is a type of synaesthesia.

Synaesthesia linking concepts with scenes – maybe not so hard to explain, and maybe not really so strange?

I have recently been reading the chapter about synaesthesia in V. S. Ramachandran’s latest book about neuroscience, and among many other interesting things Ramachandran explained that some simple concepts are processed in the temporal lobes. This is the general part of the brain that I believe is hyper-developed or hyper-connected in my case, and it is the part of the brain in which the fusiform gyrus is located, where the recognition of faces, bodies, scenes, numbers and words is done, and colour is processed. I know as the result of testing that I have an above-average ability in face recognition, possibly in the super-recognizer class, and I also experience types of synaesthesia that involve faces, scenes, colours, words, letters and numbers, so I think I’m on solid ground when I assert that there is something interesting about my fusiform gyrus. Like many synaesthetes I also experience synaesthesia triggered by listening to music, and I believe that appreciating music has an unusual prominence in the lives of me and some of my synaesthete relatives. This type of thing is thought to be associated with the temporal lobes which do auditory processing among many other things, so I believe that whatever is different about my fusiform gyrus or (gyri?) is not limited to it but extends into the temporal lobes. So I was particularly interested that the processing of simple concepts goes on in the temporal lobe, because another type of synaesthesia that I experience links concepts with visual scenes which are processed in the fusiform gyrus in the temporal lobes. If these concepts are also processed in the temporal lobes, that would be another type of synaesthesia of mine that is a purely intra-temporal lobe phenomenon, and therefore a scientific explanation of many of the synaesthesia experiences of mine could be explained in one very short phrase; bushy temporal lobes. But I’m not completely sure that the types of concepts that my mind links with scenes are the same type of thing that goes on in the temporal lobes. This is the passage from page 104 of the book The Tell-Tale Brain by V. S. Ramachandran:

“Brain damage can make a person lose the ability to name tools but not fruits and vegetables, or only fruits and not tools, or only fruits but not vegetables. All of these concepts are stored close to one other in the upper parts of the temporal lobes, but clearly they are sufficiently separated so that a small stroke can knock out one but leave the others intact. You might be tempted to think of fruits and tools as perceptions rather than concepts, but in fact two tools – say, a hammer and saw – can be visually as dissimilar from each other as they are from a banana; what unites then is a semantic understanding about their purpose and use.”

This is a list of some of the concepts that are involved with the concept->scene synaesthesia of mine:
the concept of a bad “state housing” area that one could conceivably find one’s self living in if one’s life went to hell
the concept of Charles Darwin
the concept of Charles Darwin coming to terms with the death of a child
the concept of adoption
the concept of doing one’s own tax return
the concept of cooking with lard
the concept of Bettina Arndt
the concept of the toy the sketch-a-graph.

These concepts aren’t quite as simple as the conceptual categories of “fruits” or “tools”. Is this really the same type of conceptual thinking as that described by Ramachandran? I really don’t know. Maybe I would have more of a clue if I could find the time to read through an interesting-looking paper that I have found on the internet; The Representation of Object Concepts in the Brain by
Alex Martin. I’ve had a quick look at the paper, and I have spotted a couple of interesting things on page 32, a truly amazing misspelling of the word “synaesthete” and what appears to be confirmation that different types of grapheme -> colour synaesthesia involve different parts of the brain. I’m betting that my grapheme -> colour synaesthesia involves the ventral temporal cortex rather than sites in the occipital cortex, because for me the colours of the alphabet are experienced as knowledge of the colours of letters more than a perception of the colours of letters. This doesn’t make the experience any less real or specific. I can still “see” the colours very clearly in my mind’s eye.

I’ve had some thoughts about my concept -> scene and scene -> concept synaesthesia, and I think it could be the case that it only seems to be a strange and nonsensical way of thinking because it has been taken out of the context in which it evolved, and placed into this abstracted, complex, high-speed modern world that we live in. As I have previously observed, often there is a semantic relationship between the place seen in the scene and the concept, and sometimes the scene is of a place that I visited or frequented during the period of time when I was introduced to the concept or was thinking intensively about that concept. This would appear to be a completely useful and sensible way to think, with a thought triggering a real and visible scene illustrating and spatially locating the concept. Maybe a pre-historic human thinking with this type of synaesthesia might experience an appetite for a particular type of seafood, and then in her mind, helpfully, in response to the concept of that specific type of seafood, flashes the scene of the exact beach where she previously went hunting successfully for that particular seafood delicacy. I’ve had a little bit of experience hanging out with fishermen who knew what they were doing, and I know that catching a fish often requires knowing and doing exactly the correct thing – being in the right place at the right time with exactly the right bait and tackle for the specific thing that you are hunting. Casual attitudes and fuzzy thinking don’t get results. The exact nature of synaesthesia seems to fit in with this type of task. In the stable, predictable world of the hunter-gatherer in which there isn’t much abstract thinking to complicate life, this type of synaesthesia could possibly be a most useful tool of the mind, retrieving memories of exact locations just when they are required. One has to wonder if this type of thinking would have been so useful that everyone should have evolved to have it. Was synaesthesia the norm rather than the exception in early humans? Is my mind an atavism, or could it be a souvenir of a liaison between Homo sapiens and the Neanderthal race? Or is it true that this phenomenon isn’t synaesthesia at all, but a completely normal synaesthesia-like thing that is so ordinary that people don’t notice or discuss it?

Having a mind that automatically connects concepts with scenes might have been a very useful and sensible thing in the early times of our species, but when we link concepts with scenes in a mind that is living in the modern industrialized world, things can start to look a bit weird, because there has been an explosion of more abstract thought and complex learning, bringing with it a massive range of possible concepts to think about. In prehistoric times there were no tax returns or underclass suburbs or female sex therapists with gruff voices and high media profiles. It’s a strange old world that we live in, and as synaesthesia involves our thoughts and perceptions of this world, it should probably look just as strange.

References

A brief report on my synaesthesia experiences that involve concepts as triggers or evoked experiences https://superrecognizer.wordpress.com/2011/03/11/a-brief-report-on-my-synaesthesia-experiences-that-involve-concepts-as-triggers-or-evoked-experiences/

Martin, Alex The Representation of Object Concepts in the Brain. Annual Review of Psychology. 2007. 58:25–45.
First published online September 1, 2006.
The Annual Review of Psychology is online at http://psych.annualreviews.org
This article’s doi: 10.1146/annurev.psych.57.102904.190143
http://psychology.stanford.edu/~jlm/pdfs/MartinAnnRevPsych07.pdf

Ramachandran, V. S. The tell-tale brain: unlocking the mystery of human nature. William Heinemann, 2011.

Invitation for comments

People do read this blog, in fits and bursts, but I’ve not been exactly overwhelmed by comments. I would like to know about experiences that others might have that are to do with concepts being associated with visual experiences of scenery, or concepts associated with the performance of movements, or concepts associated with any kind of visual or spatial experience. Does physical movement or any particular type of visual input influence your thoughts in a way that is not easy to explain? Are concepts that you think about “illustrated” with pictures that are visual memories of things previously seen by yourself? Or is your conceptual thinking “illustrated” with images in your mind’s eye that are the product of your imagination? Is your conceptual thinking unillustrated? Do you never “see” images in your mind’s eye? Do you experience the phenomenon that I named Involuntary Method of Loci Memorization (IMLM)? Do you think this phenomenon is synaesthesia? Do you think it is completely normal and everyone has it? Do you think it is completely abnormal? Do you think everyone experiences it? Where do you think we should draw the line between the normal evoking of memories from visual stimuli, and synesthesia? Have you ever used the “method of loci” AKA the “memory palace”? Did it seem to be different from normal memory experiences? Do you experience interesting interactions between music and conceptual thinking? Are you a synaesthete? Do you believe that synaesthetes are more visual thinkers than non-synaesthetes? I’d love to know what is going on inside your head.

Moving forward with PLoS ONE – further evidence of a connection between abstract thinking and visual processing of scenes

I’ve just discovered that a study that was published last year in a major peer-reviewed science journal appears to support a theory that I thought of a long time ago, and I have also discovered that an element of this phenomenon that I have observed has a proper scientific name; “vection”. I first learned of the concept of vection while reading an article by Roger Highfield in the February 19th 2011 edition of New Scientist magazine. I have already briefly mentioned the idea of mine in an earlier post in this blog. My theory is based on the observation that the moving scenery that I unavoidably see while I am driving a vehicle appears to free up my mind like some magical brand of mental lubricant, with the effect that novel and original ideas come to me at an extraordinary rate, and I see connections and possible connections between things that I don’t think I’d ever create or grasp while doing any other activity. My theory is that the moving scenery taken into my mind visually creates the subjective sensation of moving forward (forward vection), and the forward vection somehow brings about a change in the way my brain operates so that the existing abundance of connectivity in my synaesthete brain is opened up to an even greater degree. This opening up is not a free-for-all. It does not result in mental chaos with rampant synaesthesia such as an assault of noisy vision or brightly coloured sounds. This opening up specifically seems to involve conceptual and language-related thinking, thinking at a level of cognition that is more sophisticated and abstract than sensory stuff.

I love the choice of words for the title of the PLoS ONE paper: “The meandering mind”. Meandering is the perfect word to describe the way my mind behaves while I am driving, or travelling a passenger in a moving vehicle watching the scenery flowing past. It is a mind that is paradoxically free to wander but is also paying attention to the important task of driving safely. What did the study reported in this journal find? I quote from the abstract:

“Participants performed a mundane vigilance task, during which they were expected to daydream, while viewing a display that elicited an illusion of self-motion (i.e., vection). Afterwards, the contents of their mind wandering experiences were probed. The results revealed that the direction of apparent motion influenced the temporal focus of mental time travel. While backward vection prompted thinking about the past, forward vection triggered a preponderance of future-oriented thoughts.”

So, this study’s finding appear to support the proposition that “higher cognitive activity can have a sensory-motor grounding”. This idea is completely in accord with many of the psychological/neurological experiences that I have reported in this blog, including the connections in my mind between concepts and visual scenes that act like illustrations for those concepts, and which can in some instances evoke thinking about its specific associated concept when viewed, and also including the apparent influence that forward vection has on certain characteristics of my thinking. I am amazed by the number of conceptual connections that I have discovered among my synaesthesia-related experiences, and also connections between these experiences and ideas and studies described in recently published journal papers. Connections everywhere! Just like my brain!

If you have been reading by blog posts about the links in my mind between concepts and scenes, you will not be surprised that my mind has a particular scene that is evoked in my mind’s eye when I think about the concept of forward vection freeing up the mind. It is a scene of a winding road that I often drive along, as seen from a driver’s seat. This particular stretch of road has a lot of shrubbery along the side of the road, which enhances the subjective visual sensation of moving forward.

I’ve got to wonder whether the Prime Minister Julia Gillard might have read this paper in PLoS ONE before she thought up her election catch-phrase “moving forward”. Perhaps she was hoping to evoke the sensation of forward vection by repeating her slogan over and over, unconsciously directing voters to consider the future rather than past deeds. Maybe in the next election we might see political advertisements utilizing scenes of travelling forward or backward in a moving vehicle, depending on whether the party wishes to direct the attention of voters to the future or the past. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

References

Highfield, Roger Days of wonder. New Scientist. February 19th 2011 Number 2800. p.34-41. http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20928001.400-your-kitchen-sink-and-16-other-wonders-of-the-cosmos.html

Miles LK, Karpinska K, Lumsden J, Macrae CN The Meandering Mind: Vection and Mental Time Travel. PLoS ONE 5(5): e10825. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0010825 http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0010825