X-Message-Number: 12161
From: Thomas Donaldson <>
Subject: to Jan Coetzee, re: memory losses
Date: Tue, 20 Jul 1999 22:25:47 +1000 (EST)

To Jan Coetzee:B

Discovery that memory ability changes with age of the person does not come
close to proving the theory of Swanson. What he has to do is to show that 
other possible explanations (such as a slow degeneration of the brains of
people as they grow older) simply fail to explain his observations. The fact 
that this loss occurs at widely different ages also needs to be explained,
since after all the brains of almost all people are similar enough in size
that the notion that they simply differ in memory space becomes
questionable, at least. Suppose that the difference is as large as 
he's shown; then (given nearly equal sized brains) some other brain
function must be lacking or deteriorated in those who DO remember well at
high ages. So he must do experiments to explore such possibilities.

At some future time, yes, we may run out of memory space. Alternatively
we may simply forget more to make space for more recent experiences. Even
neural nets have a finite amount of memory, but (depending on the neural
net) they respond to added events not by simply seizing up and failing to
remember, but by forgetting earlier events in favor of the more recent
learning. Since our brains presently look likely to form several neural
nets, they may respond in just this way. Even so, the notion that this
"running out of memory space" comes into play after age 45 looks rather

Most importantly, our memories do NOT work like computer memories, no 
matter what else they may do.

			Best and long long life to all,

				Thomas Donaldson

PS: You once subscribed to PERIASTRON, where I discuss such issues.
There is a great deal more to be said, but it deserves a private
message. Perhaps you might simply revive your subscription. And if
you want to submit and article, I will consider it (you know the 
setup with articles to PERIASTRON).

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