From wikipedia:

Attention is the cognitive process of selectively concentrating on one thing while ignoring other things. Examples include listening carefully to what someone is saying while ignoring other conversations in the room (e.g. the cocktail party problem, Cherry, 1953). Attention can also be split, as when a person drives a car, puts on makeup, and talks on a cell phone at the same time. (Never really try this, however.)

Attention is one of the most intensely studied topics within psychology and cognitive neuroscience. Of the many cognitive processes associated with the human mind (decision-making, memory, emotion, etc), attention is considered the most concrete because it is tied so closely to perception. As such, it is a gateway to the rest of cognition.

The most famous definition of attention was provided by one of the first major psychologists, William James:

“Everyone knows what attention is. It is the taking possession by the mind in clear and vivid form, of one out of what seem several simultaneously possible objects or trains of thought…It implies withdrawal from some things in order to deal effectively with others.” (Principles of Psychology, 1890)


From wiktionary:
memory (countable and uncountable; plural memories)

  1. The ability of an organism to record information about things or events in the brain with the facility of recalling them later at will.
    Memory is a facility common to all animals.
  2. A record of a thing or an event stored in the brain of an organism.
    I have no memory of that event.

And from wikipedia:

Memory is the ability of the brain to store, retain, and subsequently recall information. Although traditional studies of memory began in the realms of philosophy, the late nineteenth and early twentieth century put memory within the paradigms of cognitive psychology. In the recent decades, it has become one of the principal pillars of a new branch of science that represents a marriage between cognitive psychology and neuroscience, called cognitive neuroscience.

There are several ways of classifying memories, based on duration, nature and retrieval of information. From an information processing perspective there are three main stages in the formation and retrieval of memory:

  • Encoding (processing and combining of received information)
  • Storage (creation of a permanent record of the encoded information)
  • Retrieval/Recall (calling back the stored information in response to some cue for use in some process or activity)

>and a quote: “Memory is but the storage of fragmentary but ‘relevant’ features” – Walter J. Ong
Read on for selections from the OED definition…

Continue reading “Memory”

Starbucks: The Present Moment [3/20/06]

I’m sitting in a Starbuckstm, my eyes are fixed on the trail of ink left by my rhodium nib. My ears dart back and forth, from the the Starbuckstm brand Musak to the clang of a nearby cellphone. “A dysfunctional group, or a core group…” A meeting. A child eating, a cookie. A barista laughs, “It really is!” he chortles. “A life coach” “Cause I know a lot of people who are stuck…” Tamborines, the scent of coffee, the buzz of refined sugar and amphetamine derivatives dancing their dance with my neurons. My savory soup of neurotransmitters churning away inside my braincage. The pungent air holds the snarl of coffee. I’m wondering how the corporate bozos at Starbucks calculated that this “music” would make anyone want to buy coffee. it makes me want to buy an ice pick and a smile. Everyone else is writing more than me. not really, but my brainvoice is telling me so. I snarl, and with a wimper it retreats back into the damp cave from whence it emerged. The grind of beans splintering floats above the din. It isn’t quite a din. the music continues. How many cycles do I waste on hating it? how many process moments — bits of ethereal phytochemical liveliness? My mother wishes she could ask them to turn it off.


Rafalovich 410
Culturally approved. Broken. Inside. Outside. outsider. The thought that somewhere there is a world where everyone is like me, appreciates — relates, understands without reading the latest literature. That normal really is relative, no matter how hard I try to think otherwise. In the end, it is our culture, and society that dictate how we must be and how we should act — What we can or must wear say think do. Don’t go squawking down the street like a chicken — that’s crazy! But then I think of the social obvliviousness, that humans have evolved with. It’d be like a dog not “getting” that it’s supposed to sniff the butt of another dog, or whatever. We create our own norms, our own rules — are there cultures without rules? “difficulty with rule-based behavior”. How is it not a disorder? An inability to deal with the situation. Though I suppose some can’t do math, the rules too convoluted or abstract or whatever……….

Bigger focus

“Neurology offers a biological explanation which distinguishes between the ‘maladjusted’ child and the AD/HD child.” (Rafalovich, 411)

flashback: ms. whiteside

I remember those afternoons in strange detail. A soft knock on the doorframe punctuated the murmur of learningvoices, Ms. whiteside’s dark brown face smiling slightly, but warmly in the doorway. I rose to leave while she quietly asked our teacher if she could borrow me for a little while. We made our way down the dimly lit hallway, lined by pegs and cubbies and construction paper and into her office, hidden away in a corner of the main lobby.

I must have spent hours in that office with Ms. Whiteside — hours that I enjoyed, as she would put me to a task and then silently watch, observing details I could not fathom,. She would give me colored blocks, and ask me to assemble certain shapes, or tell a story about a picture. I was intrigued, and maybe confused at times by the simplicity of the tasks, but I completed them with no less fervor. Ms. Whiteside’s measured gaze never hostile or intimidating… I vaguely remember her checking a timepiece, perhaps recording all the times. She probably had a file. Come to think of it, she must have written everything down… Yes, she was always writing, in pencil in even measured hand on yellow legal paper, it seemed she wrote far more than what could possibly be taken from my simple tasks…

Then there was Dr. A. We would sit in his office playing games — he’d casually ask how everything was going, and I’d quickly dismiss the question without lifting my focus from the game. I’d tell him everything was fine, and we’d finish our game. Sometimes we played Stratego.

I Don’t Remember

And now to cap off a night whose productivity was so low it cannot even be measured, I leave you with some writings I did over break with my Mom and some of her friends.

“I Don’t Remember” 3/20/06
How many times have those words passed from my lips? I don’t remember exactly, surely thousands. My Kimberly reassured me, told me not to worry, that she’d remember for me. The hours she spent copying, transcribing each word — well, most words… leaving out the worst, and the best — each day of those early days, each moment, each throb of the heart as it sputtered to life, the fumes of yesterday still pungent, unburned, waiting to explode in a new direction. I lay on my thin mattress, the knotted boards below pressing up through the foam, my sweetheart’s three latest letters in hand. I’d open one, read it through, drink in every word no matter how it made me hurt, or sigh — wince or blush. Give away emotion under that veneer of everything’s bueno. Todo bien. Each letter holding an entry from her journal. Her place of venting, rushing, bubbling, open and closeness. Her memories open to me — flowing across the thousand miles between us. The thousand miles between today and those days only months, years ago when it all began. “I don’t remember,” I could no longer speak those words. She had given me hers. My own memories now sketches where they had been only white-blackness, a swirling soup of places, words, memes… blended and blurred and fused into a chaotic oblivion.

Stranger Sketches – 3/12 9:19 pm

Alright, I didn’t write a disclaimer for any of my other posts, and I don’t plan to write one now… but let me just say that writing these was HAARRRRRRD! Usually I can just write through my “inner-critic”, but with the person whom I was describing sitting right there in front of me, every second I was reminded of just how inadequate my portrayals were… which was not coooool…

Well, here’s a random one that is at least postable. Some of them just get mean…

He might be my age, maybe a bit younger. He’s sitting with freshman, so it would make sense. He eats his bacon with his hands, tearing off the fat first. His hair is brown, and short. His eyebrows define his face; they look like two dark hairy caterpillars — the kind that give you a nasty rash when you touch them. He is nondescript. His cowlicks make his head look vaguely square-like.

I just read Megan’s study, and it really freed me up, I had been thinking in the wrong place when working on these before… I’ll still post some of my other ones (maybe), and try again tomorrow or later tonight (to write some more)…

In Class Incoherence – 3/12 9:08pm

I think this was the result of that exercise where we had to choose famous people, and then people close to us… and write a story with them both. Written in-class on 3/7. The handwriting contains lots of information lost in the blog-version, but just use your imagination… Perhaps I’ll do some scanning later… (hah)

Yeah… don’t ask 🙂

Blah Blah blah blah blah blah, blah blah blah blah blahd buddha bagabout a borta aorta abort aortasseacov(?) blah blah Michaela is my sista she is small. But not small and she is like Ludvig von Bismark because she unified Germany like the great Teutonic rocker we know her to be. Her feats are famous — I hear and know all about them. I read the symbols on the wall. Yet do I know her? who was that Wilhelm, or Ludvig — Blah Blah (dissolves into gibberish)


Creative Nonfiction Scene – Untitled (Costa Rica)

The wind; my throat choked, try to let it all out; trapped inside myself. The wind on my face feels fine, and the city below blinks up at me. The road is rutted, but we fly — the old Land Rover roaring up the mountain, bed and cabin full. We surge forward, each shift — or is it just some gas, throw us forward a little, in unison. One of my uncles — or is he just their friend, well, he holds a rifle. The old-fashioned kind, like from World War II. I’m told it was his father’s, and he grips it tightly, his eyes twinkling and his face bittersweet. He points the gun up, and shoots into the night sky. I hear nothing but the rumble of passing time. The farmland rolls past, now on both sides as we leave behind what we call our village. We leave behind the humble houses with open kitchens; here no-one lives but the cows and some horses, startled by our approach. My uncle Eduardo, the hustband of my father’s sister, we call him lagarto; that means Crocodile. They say it’s because he looks like one. His face is warm and wrinkled with smiles, his skin has been tanned by the fields and sun and rain and mosquitos. He turns his face to the sky, arms spread wide, and lets out a yell, a whoop, full of all the freedom of the night sky. The pain in his hands, gnarled at only 30 years from working coffee. He yells for his lost daughter, her face gazing up from their photoalbum, flanked by a clipping of her hair. I can’t help but shiver when they show me. He yells for his lost niece, she would have been my sister.