Visual Memory

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Visual Memory

Postby jocular on June 8th, 2016, 7:53 am 

This is an area where I seem to be weak but ,to be sure I would need to know if others can do things in this area that I cannot. (I know some people can paint or draw from visual memory)

So here is a test. You have seen a car number ,maybe even made a mental note of it. But you are not sure if it is correct ,and let us also say that it is very important and a lot depends on you getting this number right.

Can anyone here on this forum "double check" the number in their head by going back to when they actually saw the number plate and so verifying the number?

This is something I am unable to do. Am I attempting something that is impossible and does "visual memory" just work in the unconscious background ?

Is it always the analytical thought process that has the "final say" or is it possible to ,so to speak "pull up pictures" that are 100% (or close) accurate as compared to the original "sighting" ?
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Re: Visual Memory

Postby vivian maxine on June 8th, 2016, 8:46 am 

jocular » June 8th, 2016, 6:53 am wrote:This is an area where I seem to be weak but ,to be sure I would need to know if others can do things in this area that I cannot. (I know some people can paint or draw from visual memory)

So here is a test. You have seen a car number ,maybe even made a mental note of it. But you are not sure if it is correct ,and let us also say that it is very important and a lot depends on you getting this number right.

Can anyone here on this forum "double check" the number in their head by going back to when they actually saw the number plate and so verifying the number?

This is something I am unable to do. Am I attempting something that is impossible and does "visual memory" just work in the unconscious background ?

Is it always the analytical thought process that has the "final say" or is it possible to ,so to speak "pull up pictures" that are 100% (or close) accurate as compared to the original "sighting" ?


For me, it isn't impossible but the number has to have some kind of peculiar pattern that would stick in my mind - say 325 (math), H66 (highway), etc. Just a set of random numbers, no. Letters are easier. If you knew from start that you needed to remember that plate, you could form a fast sentence. Then, maybe you have to enjoy playing the license plate game - as I do.
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Re: Visual Memory

Postby Eclogite on June 8th, 2016, 9:01 am 

A couple of years ago I was driving with a colleague from Edmonton to the Rockies. Since we had left at three in the morning the road was largely devoid of traffic. We had a brief "pit stop" and were now gaining on the only other vehicle on our side of the highway. My friend asked if that was the same yellow car we had passed earlier. I replied it was if it had such and such a number plate. It did.

I had not deliberately memorised the number, but I had certainly looked at it as we passed and had it in mind when I recalled it. I think that is the sort of thing you are thinking of jocular. If someone asked me what condition a piece of equipment was in, I would not initially recall in words, but would see the object, examine it in my mind and puts its condition into words.

However, a word of caution. We continually rebuild memories, so what we think is a memory has multiple re-writes on it.
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Re: Visual Memory

Postby jocular on June 8th, 2016, 9:19 am 

vivian maxine » June 8th, 2016, 8:46 am wrote:For me, it isn't impossible but the number has to have some kind of peculiar pattern that would stick in my mind - say 325 (math), H66 (highway), etc. Just a set of random numbers, no. Letters are easier. If you knew from start that you needed to remember that plate, you could form a fast sentence. Then, maybe you have to enjoy playing the license plate game - as I do.

No ,I think that is exactly the kind of associative analysis I am trying to see if we can dispense with.

If I try to make a picture in my mind of places I have been to I find I can only have the slightest measure of success if I have something to associate them with.

I cannot make a "pure picture" in my mind even though I do use pictures in my thoughts
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Re: Visual Memory

Postby jocular on June 8th, 2016, 9:29 am 

Eclogite » June 8th, 2016, 9:01 am wrote:A couple of years ago I was driving with a colleague from Edmonton to the Rockies. Since we had left at three in the morning the road was largely devoid of traffic. We had a brief "pit stop" and were now gaining on the only other vehicle on our side of the highway. My friend asked if that was the same yellow car we had passed earlier. I replied it was if it had such and such a number plate. It did.

I had not deliberately memorised the number, but I had certainly looked at it as we passed and had it in mind when I recalled it. I think that is the sort of thing you are thinking of jocular. If someone asked me what condition a piece of equipment was in, I would not initially recall in words, but would see the object, examine it in my mind and puts its condition into words.

I think you recalled the previous events without words (analysis) but also without using visual imagery -except as one of the inputs

I am trying to find examples of pure "photographic memory" but I have a suspicion that such a "stand alone" feature does not actually exist but that it works alongside our other mental processes.

Maybe what you are describing is related to "photographic memory" but it is not what I was thinking of.
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Re: Visual Memory

Postby vivian maxine on June 8th, 2016, 9:38 am 

jocular » June 8th, 2016, 8:19 am wrote:
vivian maxine » June 8th, 2016, 8:46 am wrote:For me, it isn't impossible but the number has to have some kind of peculiar pattern that would stick in my mind - say 325 (math), H66 (highway), etc. Just a set of random numbers, no. Letters are easier. If you knew from start that you needed to remember that plate, you could form a fast sentence. Then, maybe you have to enjoy playing the license plate game - as I do.

No ,I think that is exactly the kind of associative analysis I am trying to see if we can dispense with.

If I try to make a picture in my mind of places I have been to I find I can only have the slightest measure of success if I have something to associate them with.

I cannot make a "pure picture" in my mind even though I do use pictures in my thoughts


I would have said that is impossible but Eclogite proves me wrong. Eidetic memory, Eclogite?
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Re: Visual Memory

Postby Serpent on June 8th, 2016, 9:54 am 

I would probably recall the letters, especially as there are only three, at the beginning of Ontario license plates - but not the numbers: unless they have a strong narrative association, my eyes tend to slide off numbers. (school-induced math phobia) I can call up the exact shade of smoky blue and the kidney-shaped ding on the rear bumper, but not the number.

I think our minds are initially more inclined toward some kinds of observation and memory than other kinds, and we usually follow our talents and develop those abilities, while neglecting skills that were difficult or unpleasant to learn. So, by the end of life, we're highly specialized, both in what we notice and what we retain.
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Re: Visual Memory

Postby BadgerJelly on June 8th, 2016, 10:43 am 

Memory is plastic. You can be certain that you saw X when it was actually Y. First off you have to make sure what you see is what is there and not distorted in anyway. Once you've decided it is clear and have time to process the information you require it is then a matter of using mneumonics to hold what you deem important in place.

I don't think any memory remains completely "pure" as our experience changes our appreciations of things does too (maybe subtlely maybe less so).

If you've ever seen people like Derran Brown perform they showcase how well the memory can be trained. Some people do possess photographic memories, but we are all capable of this if we practice often enough. It is worth considering too that our vision is not as full as we'd like to believe. What you see right now before your eyes is partially a mental construct rather than actual incoming data through your sensory organs produce an image. Often we see what we want to or what we expect too. Attention plays a huge role in what is held in conscious memory.

That is my brief view. I am sure neuro will give you good detail when he sees this thread. I look forwards to whatvhe has to say.
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Re: Visual Memory

Postby Eclogite on June 8th, 2016, 11:57 am 

vivian maxine » Wed Jun 08, 2016 1:38 pm wrote:I would have said that is impossible but Eclogite proves me wrong. Eidetic memory, Eclogite?
Eidetic memory is, as I understand it, a very accurate memory. I just remember some details of some things. For example, I have a moderate sized library of about 2,000 books. In many instances I can remember not only where I bought them, but what shelf and what position on the shelf they occupied. Or I will recall who was sitting where at a group dinner twenty years ago. But I think this is commonplace for many (most) people.

jocular, I don't understand what you mean by this:

"I think you recalled the previous events without words (analysis) but also without using visual imagery -except as one of the inputs."

My memory was of the number plate. In recalling it I then had to look at the image to see what the number was. As far as I understand the rather poorly named "photographic memory" that's what that was.

Badger Jelly has pointed out that memory is plastic. I talked of several rewrites. But what is being modified, in this example, is a visual image.
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Re: Visual Memory

Postby Braininvat on June 8th, 2016, 12:21 pm 

Associative hints seem to help with visual memory. When I lived in a state with the alphanumeric system (ABC 123), I noticed that almost any combination of three letters is an acronym or Net-ism in English. I once saw an old Ford chugging down the Interstate with the alpha portion "POS," which amused me, given the car's condition and the common meaning assigned to POS in U.S. automotive parlance. Similarly, I would remember a BMW that started with "IPO." It's often easy to remember this part of the plate with that type of association, then play with the three numbers until you get something like, say, "453, oh, that was my aunt's address on Maple Street," or "819, that's a sideways infinity, then the lowest and the highest single integer." Or reversing the digits gives my birth date. Or that's a square (81), followed by its root. Without these playful associations, I might only manage, "um, I think it started with a P and there was a zero in there somewhere...." Badger's comment that "Attention plays a huge role in what is held in conscious memory" seems key here. Serpent, mentioning a math phobia, might play less with mathematic qualities and use the shapes of the numbers or connect them with team jerseys or something else.
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Re: Visual Memory

Postby Serpent on June 8th, 2016, 12:38 pm 

Exactly! If there is a narrative, or a lyric, or a name associated with a sequence, we're much more likely to be able to retrieve the memory, because it's cross-referenced in several different locations. That technique can be applied to anything we particularly want to fix in our memory.

I initially understood the question to mean, would I be able to recall a registration plate seen casually, in some ordinary context, where I didn't know I would need to access the image later on. Unless it makes an impression, we let most images pass by unremarked. And yet I often can call up a scene, much like a slide in a projector, and recall bits I didn't intend to commit to memory at the time. Colours and shapes, mainly, but sometimes also oddness.
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Re: Visual Memory

Postby jocular on June 8th, 2016, 1:32 pm 

Eclogite » June 8th, 2016, 11:57 am wrote:
jocular, I don't understand what you mean by this:

"I think you recalled the previous events without words (analysis) but also without using visual imagery -except as one of the inputs."

My memory was of the number plate. In recalling it I then had to look at the image to see what the number was. As far as I understand the rather poorly named "photographic memory" that's what that was.

.

I was basing that on where you said "(I) had it in mind when I recalled it" which I took to represent some kind of instantaneous realization.

Now that you have clarified that you saw the image of the number plate in your mind's eye and ,so to speak read it off , then I see that you did in fact do what I was wondering about in the OP (with all the caveats about thoughts being a mixture of inputs which I am sure will apply.

Congratulations ,that is not an ability I possess but it is good to know that it can probably be cultivated.

I could try to explain what exactly I meant by that remark of mine which you quoted me back but since I was wrong maybe it is not worth it?
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Re: Visual Memory

Postby jocular on June 8th, 2016, 1:41 pm 

Serpent » June 8th, 2016, 12:38 pm wrote: Unless it makes an impression, we let most images pass by unremarked. And yet I often can call up a scene, much like a slide in a projector, and recall bits I didn't intend to commit to memory at the time. Colours and shapes, mainly, but sometimes also oddness.

Yes that is more or less what I meant.

I seem to have a "blind spot" or it just represents an awful amount of mental exertion for me to do.

Perhaps it is one of those things that we can do if we don't try too hard and it just happens spontaneously...

Even so I would be confident that I have never done it.
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Re: Visual Memory

Postby BioWizard on June 8th, 2016, 1:49 pm 

I frequently re-examine objects and data from my visual memory in my line of work. Although as Eclogite noted, I do it with a lot of caution.
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Re: Visual Memory

Postby Serpent on June 8th, 2016, 3:03 pm 

jocular » June 8th, 2016, 12:41 pm wrote: " much like a slide in a projector, and recall bits I didn't intend to commit to memory"
Yes that is more or less what I meant.

I seem to have a "blind spot" or it just represents an awful amount of mental exertion for me to do.

Perhaps it is one of those things that we can do if we don't try too hard and it just happens spontaneously...


That's what witnesses do under hypnosis - in the movies. In real life, though, the memory can too easily be influenced by the examiner. You can superimpose generated pictures on the remembered ones. That's why hypnosis testimony is inadmissible in court.

The images I recall are usually incomplete, with blank or blurry areas where nothing made an impression, or I didn't pay attention.

I suspect that people vary greatly in their memory retention and retrieval. But an even greater determinant will likely be how you perceive in the first place, and what interests you. It's quite possible that your recording and recall process is not predominantly in visual images. I've done some art, so that's my main focus. Second would be narrative. If an arresting picture attaches to a funny story, I'll recall it till I die.... Yet, I can't guarantee that it will be as originally witnessed: one can embellish or alter memories in all kinds of ways: by dreaming about them, dwelling on them, recounting them, filing them under a specialized reference, such as "comedic ideas" or "sculpture subjects" .

You can't trust that debil, memory! But where would we be without it?
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Re: Visual Memory

Postby doogles on June 9th, 2016, 6:23 am 

I'm not sure what you had in mind Jocular, but Wikipedia has much to say about the subject on this site - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exceptional_memory

This is just one minor part of the dissertation that discusses a few rare cases of eidetic memory. There is much more

“ … Elizabeth remains the only person to have passed such a test, and the credibility of the findings about Elizabeth are highly questionable given that the researcher married his subject, and the tests have never been repeated. Elizabeth refused to repeat them.[7] The study fueled strong skepticism about studies of eidetic memory for several decades thereafter. Recently there has been a renewal of interest in the area, with more careful controls, and far less spectacular results.

Hungarian mathematician John von Neumann could recite exactly word for word any books he had read, including page numbers and footnotes—even those of books he had read decades earlier.[8]

Unusual cases of eidetic memory include: Sergei Rachmaninov, a composer and pianist who could recall a musical score after sight reading twice; savant Stephen Wiltshire,[9] who is able to draw a skyline in detail after a single helicopter ride;[10] and philosopher Swami Vivekananda, who was able to memorize ten volumes of the encyclopedia in only a few days[citation “
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Re: Visual Memory

Postby jocular on June 9th, 2016, 9:34 am 

doogles » June 9th, 2016, 6:23 am wrote:I'm not sure what you had in mind Jocular, but Wikipedia has much to say about the subject on this site - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exceptional_memory


Eclogite ,Serpent and BioWizard have all been able to do what it was I was asking about.

I thought that I could not but ,after a dream I had last night I see that I am also able to do it even though not in such a useful way.

On a related note I was once stopped by US immigration at entry to New York and quizzed by a customs official.

A month or so later ,at the Mexican /San Diego border the same official picked me out from the scurrying crowd (across the busy hall) and asked to see my passport as he had recognized my face(maybe my general appearance).

He also remembered the result of our previous encounter and reluctantly agreed that I had not overstayed my welcome as he had feared.

Back in those days visas obtained in Europe had to be double stamped upon disembarkation in the US.
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Re: Visual Memory

Postby BadgerJelly on June 13th, 2016, 3:34 am 

You may find it interesting that your field of vision influences memory recall too. This is due to how each hemisphere of your brain processes information. The visual cues need not be conscious either.

Here is something that may interest you.

Think about a close friend or relative. Imagine their voice. What is funny is you don't actually have to imagine them saying words to remember what their voice sounds like. The tone and timbre are what we can place the utterance of words onto/into.
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Re: Visual Memory

Postby jocular on June 13th, 2016, 7:58 am 

Well that is surprisingly true.I can verify/agree that that no words are necessary to capture the (memory of a ) voice in your head.
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