Knowledge and memory

Corbin asked:

How can you lose and forget knowledge once you obtain that knowledge aren’t our minds sources of information and context that we always remember in the brain?

Answer by Jürgen Lawrenz

Your question smacks of too much faith in schematics. Biological memory isn’t flowcharting signals along a series of logic gates and fixed memory cells. Also, what the word ‘mind’ refers to, is still an issue of much contention among experts, so that any question on its capacity remains educated guesswork at best.

Nevertheless we have enough knowledge to answer the first part of your question. Memory cells are biological entities, which means they can become tired, sick or maimed like all living things. Moreover they die at an alarming rate and are never replaced by new cells. Therefore remembering knowledge or anything else relies heavily on the overall health of the brain and its ability to redistribute remembered items from one branch to another when fatalities occur. Forgetting results from severed connections among cells that hold coordinated information, but also from lack of reinforcement (knowledge never refreshed) and re-stacking priorities (old memories slipping down as new memories are added).

Apart from this, you should be aware that biological brains are not CPUs either. Neurons are scattered all over your body; and the memories they hold are to a significant degree autonomous — on the pretty sound principle that the brain should not be overloaded with information that is useless to it, as the organs in question are perfectly equipped to look after themselves. For example, athletes and performing musicians are engaged non-stop with training their body parts to perform without interference from the conscious brain.

In sum: A living body system is a great deal more complex than your question supposes, and the above should suffice to warn you that overstressing the brain’s capacities is apt to end in a lopsided viewpoint. After all, the bodies of severely brain-damaged people can still continue to function autonomously due to what is called ‘high redundancy’ in the business and ‘coping’ in ordinary parlance.

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