Stupid Hypothetical Question about the brain

Here’s something I was wondering about the brain, imagine science found a way to make a person stop aging, and that person can live forever. Now say a person lives for 1000s of years, will the brain be able to store all his knowledge that he had since child hood? Or would he start forgetting things like what his parents names are and such. Or say dogs go extinct within the 1st for hundred years this person was alive, would he know what a dog was 1000s of years in the future if there were no reminders of dogs? Stupid question but I was just wondering

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They will sell them brain enlargement pills.


I keep travel logs for many of my trips for work. I do try to record notes and observations about the place, such as sights, sounds, and smells. It astounds me that when I read a 20 year old log so much comes back to me - things that if you just said “hey, what do you know about XYZ place” I would not have been able to recall.

So, if you are planning to live a long time - keep journals.

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Just like Bitking, I agree that periodic memory refreshing sessions reinforce and maintain older memories. Looking at an old family picture album always does the job, for me. But I would take this one step further, in order to answer the original question. All our memories form networked associations. We always learn and understand new information in terms of existing information which was learned in the past. Our past knowledge forms a framework (our model of reality) which gets appended with new information. I therefore think, that you would never forget very essential and foundational units of knowledge. But I could imagine that some pruning would weaken and perhaps replace elements that do not receive any periodic attention. If this is true, then the implication is, “You are, who you remember”. (Identity requires periodic reflection). If you do not periodically remember who you are, you will not be the same entity.

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I think the physical world itself is a memory carved by physical objects. There is a high chance that one’s memory is associated with these carvings. While humans have the knack to discover/remember and preserve these carvings. Therefore a good chance one will remember old memories, where old is probably a function of relevance to the present world and luck.

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You should take into account that memory is designed (evolved?) to be updated as new sensory information is received. It is easily shown that memory of historical events is not just reinforced but recreated, and that memories can change.

It’s not science, but I have several personal experiences of revisiting places of which I have vivid early memories, only to find they are not as I remembered. And then there is the whole false memory thing. [As an aside, eyewitness accounts from decades ago should never be relied on to prove ‘beyond reasonable doubt’.]

So, you are what you have become, not what you always were.

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If you are a function of your memories, when are you you, when those memories are constantly changing? Or being more or less you is good enough.,(then what is that being, thats less or more you? isnt that the real you and why isnt it less or more of anything).

These are deep philosophical problems tied to the axiom of identity, causality and meriological identity that we are not about to solve in this thread :slight_smile: sorry

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My understanding is that you would continue to gain higher level conceptual structures, but at a certain point you then loose the abililty to explicitly identify the patterns that you have learnt. Think about making a coffee and you initially just know the concept of making a coffee, not the separate steps that would be involved for your particular place and moment in time. You can understand making a cup of coffee once you know about a kettle/hot water, cup, spoon, etc. which can be done relatively young as a result.

Then think about geopolitics and the 4d chess moves that are involved in global political events. You need a lot of underlying conceptual knowledge to create higher level concepts but those concepts may just be the making a cup of coffee equivalent, they just rely on a lot more complex underlying concepts.

This is then where “intuition” comes in because I believe that our awareness processing state (avoiding other word) we can’t actually serialise and understand the complexity of the parallel intreplay of resultS of the underlying network. We then have our intuition that "tells us / directs us to which choice is best but we may have no idea why at the time.

Unless you grown new dendrites on an ongoing basis you will reach a point of “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” The growth of new dendrites would then also mean that at some point “old” ones are removed, so you must then be perpetually forgetting your past.

Dendrites that loose synapses still retain a bump where the synapse once was so leaves a memory effect (which influences the connection probability of a new synapse re-forming). Until that is the dendrite is removed and your memory is then changed as you forget the very small bias the dendrite had on your memory. You can’t really fully forget until the dendrite goes or moves position a few more nm out of reach.

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It depends on the environment the person lives, the information can be stored for his entire lifetime. If his environment often demands his retrieval of that information, if the environment didn’t demand he will forget it anyway(but not all info, info piles up on existing info. Assume a pile of info stacked upon one another, if the top info is retrieved the bottom info is also retrieved. Eg, meaning of father (bottom) ->. . . . → you friend father name (top). ) If you often see and visit your friends father, then most probably you’ll retrieve the meaning of father that you learned in your elementary school even if that hypothetical person you just described is at the age of 600+.

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