The way mind connects thoughts and memories is something I have been interested in deeply. Perhaps it can throw some light on how the memory is organized and accessed. Since as adults we have consciously/unconsciously altered our thinking patterns and we are very reactive in nature, it is difficult to see the brilliance of the mind. On the other hand children can give you lot of such insights, because what’s in their mind comes out without much of logical interference. Here is an incident that happened today evening.
We were waiting for a doctor’s appointment; and I was chit-chatting with my 6-year-old daughter. Somehow the conversation strayed in to topic of me getting old.
“Will you look after me when I am old?” I asked her
“Yes” she says
“What will you give me?”
“I will give you Orange, Apple….” She pauses here for a moment and suddenly asked..
“Papa, will you buy me those love birds that we saw in the market other day?”
As she went on to describe how many birds she would like to have and what color etc, I was wondering at the abrupt switch in the topic.
Though it seems like that the topic of conversation changed all of a sudden, it is not really so. The two topics are in fact connected.
If you didn’t get it, here is what probably happened. Last week when we were at the market, we saw some pairs of love birds for sale. My daughter was very much interested and we had watched them eating, drinking and merry-making. Probably when this incident is stored in her memory, she has also stored the meta data around it. One such meta data was ‘feeding’- this was something that caught her attention the most.
During our conversation, at the point when she was promising to give me orange, apple etc, it is ‘feeding’ that must have been at the back of her mind(as a feeling or as an experience, I do not know for sure). And immediately the mind connected this conversation to a memory which was also related to ‘feeding’
What makes this even more interesting in children is that the associations are not done through language. This is a common problems we adults face, because most of our experiences are stored as words and sentences and the associations we trend to form generally are derived through word comparisons. But in children, since the language is not yet developed fully, some of these experiences are stored in abstract forms.
This is also reason why children can think creatively….
PS:I was reading an article on the evolution of language and the author suggests that it in language lies the root cause for schizophrenia. I agree. No wonder silence is so much glorified in this tradition.