Today, my power went off at 12:45 P.M. My only plan for the day was to write a bullet-proof blog post for this class. I was going to give up; but I am here at Starbucks with my slow and ancient tablet. I have changed from a complicated topic to an easier topic because it is dear to my heart( which is a reference to deep processing to be honest):
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. If you have not seen this movie, I demand that you stop what you are doing immediately and watch this movie right now. I cannot express how much I love this film. This movie evoked feelings I did not know I could feel. Lucky for me, I know this film well enough to use it as an example to apply the principles of cognitive psychology.
If you are a terrible human being who will not watch this movie and enjoy it, please google Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and read the summary, so I do not have to spend time explaining the premise and boring everyone through the process. The brief summary is that the main characters Joel (Jim Carey) and Clementine (Kate Winselt) attempted to erase each other from their memories after a terrible break-up. Cognitive Psychology explains how this attempt to erase a person from memory was an epic fail.
I think it is perfect how we are covering Chapter 7 now, and most of my points on memory-erasing comes from this chapter. Memory is a network. Memory is not a series of isolated thoughts. The retrieval paths, the associative links, meet together at nodes and continue to spread to other nodes, to create a “net”. Joel and Clementine were an intimate, romantic couple who lived together. Many memories are being intertwined. From sleeping to waking, if I remember correctly, the couple were lived together for two years, which to me, is a lot of time spent with another person. It’s enough time for daily habits to be associated with one’s romantic partner. Daily habits are “deeply” ingrained. I almost wrote my blog on how much my daily habits were disturbed due to the power outage. Every time I walked into the room, I still attempted to turn on the light though I knew the power was out. Turning lights is extremely automatic. I think this is an example “processing fluency”. The spreading activation is strong for automatic motions, like to turning on light switches. Living with someone else, you become accustomed to that other person, and memories of that person become intertwined with association links.
With all these associations in mind, imagine erasing a targeted memory. After removing the targeted memory, associations remain. In the movie, “Lacuna, Inc.” attempts to correct this issue by asking their clients to remove all belongings that would remind them of the person being erased. That said, places cannot be erased. Sights, sounds, smells, taste, touch, and feelings cannot be erased.
I bring up feelings not being erased to make another point. In the cases of H.M., Korsakoff’s syndrome patients, and amnesiac patients, explicit memory is impaired, but not implicit. To me, this is fascinating. These patients can remember without remembering! What a paradox! Within the impicit memory paradigm, is familiarity. In Chapter 2, we learned what happens when familiarity is impaired: Capgras Syndrome. The people we love are recognizable but they are not familiar. Now, we can imagine the reverse situation: seeing a complete “stranger” who is eerily familiar.
This is what happened in the film. The explicit memories were erased with no problem, but implicit memory remained in tact. Our hearts, or our amygdala rather, cannot forget. Sorry, I icannot help but be cheesy. At the last second while Joel was erasing Clementine, she tells him to meet her at Montauk beach. When he wakes up, he meets her at Montauk for the first time, a second time.
This is the theme song, because music is life.