Re: Doogie Mice

Robert J. Bradbury (
Thu, 2 Sep 1999 18:51:10 -0700 (PDT)

On Thu, 2 Sep 1999, Matt Gingell wrote:

> This matches my intuition. I have a terrible short-term memory – I can't
> look at a phone number and dial it, I have to go 3 or 4 numbers at a time.
> In psychology there’s a theory that people can hold and manipulate 7
> plus-or-minus 2 symbols comfortably. I'm way down the bell curve,
> I can barely do 5 on a good day.

Short term memory, which obviously does not involve "long-term-potentation" has to involve a repeating feedback loop. You could obviously get person-to-person variants here in the size of the brain devoted to this loop, the rate at which it repeats, the rate at which it accepts interference from outside sources (noise, etc.).

Short term memory, is probably a horrible criteria by which to judge mental effectiveness.

> My theory is that the fewer symbols you can manipulate at one time,
> the symbols in the set you develop must individually be more semantically
> rich, and the manipulation systems you infer must be smaller and more
> efficient.

Plausible, if you don't suffer from a handicap of quantity or throughput, then then the balance is restored by allowing the unutilized resources carry "wider" thoughts than are carried by people manipulating more symbols. An interesting question would be to analyze those 'subunits' to see what associations they carry. [Ah yes, 102-1297 -- the day 7 days after my birthday each year and the combined score of my SATs - 43...] The interesting thing about the brain is that the subprocessors are likely to find these associations whether or not you have any interest in them!]

> There’s a contrast in cognitive strategies, learning by remembering and
> then understanding vs. understanding and then fitting facts into that
> framework.

Sure, one is memory based, one is fuzzy-logic pattern matching based. All of us have all of these capabilities but we haven't learned the degree to which genes or developmental processes can enhance or handicap them.