Sunday, July 15, 2007

Studying more about memory I have been interested in all memory function. Of course you will find many things on the internet supporting any idea that you support. However, the best thing to do is seek educated studies done by reputable establishments.

More about Memory
Over the years, many multiple memory systems have been proposed. The most widely accepted today are nondeclarative/declarative memory, semantic/episodic memory, and implicit/explicit memory.
Declarative memory stores facts and can be consciously discussed.
Semantic memory is memory of meanings and concept based understanding
Episotic memory is the memory of events, times and places
Explicit memory is exact memories like "what you had for breakfast"
Implicit memory is "memory that can't be verbalized but that can affect performance on some task without conscious awareness. For example, sometimes you can recognize a multiple choice answer without ever realizing you learned the information in the first place. Eich, Macaulay, Loewenstein, and Dihle (1997)

Don't forget, there are also "false memories" that can be mistaken for real memory and the person honestly thinks they really have been through things that never happened.

More info at -- One of the interesting ideas is that infants do not have the ability to process language so they can have no connections to make memories.
It suggests that emotional memories may be easier to recall but they are speaking about 1 and 5 year olds.


LeRoy Dissing said...

Interesting post. I know we store what our senses pickup. Its the recall I sometimes have problems with...and of course how one perceives a person, place, event determines how it is remembered. I imagine there is much out there about how traumatic memories are buried until a person can fully integrate them???

Annie said...

It almost seems as though you're trying to convince yourself that none of what these "anti-adoption" people are saying is true. You want to convince yourself that being separated from her first mother could never impact Baby J.

A word about the memory thing. Even if a person doesn't have a memory, an event can have an impact. A baby who is never responded to appropriately can have lasting effects from that. They don't remember, but the impact is there. So, I don’t think that it’s possible to totally discount the primal wound theory with memory studies.

I have a daughter who spent almost 18 months in an institution. Do I think this will always be a part of who she is? Yes. Do I think this means she is destined to misery? Absolutely NOT! She is amazingly brilliant, happy and I have no doubt will have an amazing life. Having something sad in your past doesn't doom you to a sad life. I really believe the thing that has been most damaging to the adoptees who seem to struggle with it is the lack of acknowledgment of their feelings of loss from those close to them.

You can’t control how your daughter feels. You can’t control or predict how anyone will feel. The only thing you can control is your own actions. So, is she feels sad, just be there for her.

petunia said...


it's funny that you were talking about my daughter when I'm trying to figure out really for myself why I have no feelings for my biomom and so many adoptees say they do. I honestly have not even put my daughter into the equation...
I totally agree that trauma can have an impact on a child of any age...especially unborn. It may be due to the fact that the adrenaline, hormones, stress released chemicals etc. has an affect on the child's brain.
I am just fascinated by the subject and trying to learn as much as I can. It just seems the more I try to find out, the less likely it is a solid memory of birth and relinquishment as it is an affect of emotions and a fantasy of what like could have been.....
I don't know, I get on learning kicks until I figure things out -- may be at this one for a lifetime.
As far as my daughter goes, I'll cross that bridge when we come to it...right now I'm going ot let her be a toddler.

Annie said...

I guess I misunderstood the reason for your wonderings.

I bet there are a million little factors from your own individual personality to all the things you experienced growing up that contribute to how you feel.

AmyLew2 said...

Interesting. I heard years ago that infants who were sexually abused at a very young age would be emotionally harmed even though they couldnt remember the abuse. I googled "sexual abuse infants" and read through the results. Every single one said there were lifetime problems because of it even though the child couldnt remember it. An example;
"Furthermore, if the child is sexually abused during early childhood, they may not have any cognitive "memory" and be completely unaware that the source of their fears, difficulties with intimacy and relationships has its roots in this betrayal in infancy. This can lead to problems with self-esteem and, will make any therapeutic efforts more difficult."
While being placed for adoption could hardly be compared, it does prove quite without a doubt that a child suffering a trauma in infancy will suffer later in life.

petunia said...

yes, I think trauma like abuse changes something in an infant that lasts with them forever. I don't know may have something to with the the development of the hippo thalamus I'm still looking into memory and I'm studying how much memory plays a role, what type of memory and when it develops.

Tishslp said...

I did therapy with TBI patients for a while; "rehabilitating" memory was a large part of that work.

A lot of what I read and discussed at the time had to do with the "stickiness" of memories. Some memories stick with us despite time, psychological trauma or physical trauma (such as areas of the brain being damaged by accident or illness). Many researchers were looking into what exactly it is that makes some memories stick for a lifetime and others not. Traumatic reaction to a stimulus can make a memory stick amazingly strongly, even if the same stimulus would not be perceived as traumatic by another person. Although the actual event may be long forgotten, the RESPONSE to the event is not forgotten and can result in specific or even generalized anxiety. It also ties in with a person's general emotional personality, which, in turn, has a genetic component. To relate this to adoption, consider this case:

a fetus grows inside his mother's womb. He hears the pitch and quality of her voice, the sound of her heart beat, the sound of her walk, he's familiar with her movements and little noises, and the way she soothes him by rubbing him/her stomach just so. From her, he has inherited a tendency to be intensely relational...being perceived by and responded to by another is highly satisfying to this personality type. At birth, undeniably a traumatic experience in itself, not only does he enter into a cold, bright, harsh world full of people unknown to him, but he is whisked away to a cold table by someone whose voice, rythyms and touch is unfamiliar to him all the while he is learning to go from a water environment to an air environment. This qualifies as traumatic. Add to that, when you are returned to your mother, you are again taken away and, this time, you do not return to the familiarity of her rythyms, her voice, her touch. To the baby with the inherited need to be relational, this would be even further traumatizing. Of course, he will bond with his adoptive parents, he will come to prefer their voice, their rythyms and their touch over anyone's. But, the trauma of the moment made what is called an "imprint" on his memory. And, when a sight, sound, smell, taste or touch triggers the "memory" of the trauma, anxiety floods in. Some triggers might be obvious....such as seperation anxiety from the aparents triggering the "memory" of seperation from the bparents. Some may not be so obvious. The fact is there is no way to tell what a baby may have been focusing on at the time of the trauma. It could be the color of the nurses gown, it could be the scale in the corner, it could be a certain tension in the air. When these things present themselves, often years later, they can trigger anxiety. To further complicate the issue, memory is selective and the human psyche is designed to protect itself. Some children bury trauma to deep to be recovered (although some don't believe trauma can ever be buried too deep to have no effect on someone). Some children will desensitize to some triggering stimuli while developing a vulnerability to others. Some children, even born to the same mother and going to the same adoptive parents, will NOT have the same personality and so will not exhibit the same anxiety or "mother loss", giving the seemingly random "sometimes they do, sometimes they don't" quality to infant memories/trauma reactions.

All this just to say: each case is different and it is impossible to predict who will feel traumatized by adoption and who will not :)

petunia said...

Tish, I totally get what you are saying and that is what some of the books say. But, there are conflicting studies about the "memory" of the mothers learned pre-natally. There was a study done on monkeys that revealed that the infants would go to anythong soothing and loving - even a chair wrapped in fur. I wonder if the voice they hear has been soothing - that's a basic and deep early development of the brain - pleasure/pain etc. When children get that after birth (no matter who it is) they are okay - not as a traumatic event. But if they are abused or neglected (no matter who does it) it is a trauma that can shape them because it is pain and no fulfillment basic needs and even not getting the chemicals released because of touch.
It's all very interesting to me...I've been taking notes the last few days on some more interesting things about the hippocampus....i'll post soon.

Tishslp said...

I agree; it's fascinating....I love nueruology