In Living in Denial, Kari Marie Norgaard discusses the extent to which the everyday reality we experience is culturally defined. We participate in a consensus, of which we are unaware, on which cues we should ignore and to which we must pay attention. On such difference she mentions is the extent to which people focus on the past, on the present, or on the future. Religions tend to process current experience in terms of meaningful past events.

New research indicates that a single act can bias us towards perceiving or failing to notice novelty.

One Act of Remembering Can Influence Future Acts

This suggests a limit of hypocampus functioning which religious memeplexes exploit.

In a new study published in the journal Science, New York University researchers show that remembering something old or noticing something new can bias how you process subsequent information.

This novel finding suggests that our memory system can adaptively bias its processing towards forming new memories or retrieving old ones based on recent experiences.

Previous scholarship has demonstrated that both encoding new memories and retrieving old ones depend on the same specific brain region -- the hippocampus. However, computational models suggest that encoding and retrieval occur under incompatible network processes. In other words, how can the same part of the brain perform two tasks that are at odds with each other?

At the heart of this paradox is distinction between encoding, or forming a new memory, and memory retrieval, or recalling old information. Specifically, encoding is thought to rely on pattern separation, a process that makes overlapping, or similar, representations more distinct, whereas retrieval is thought to depend on pattern completion, a process that increases overlap by reactivating related memory traces. [emphasis mine]

Tags: past orientation

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