Where Do Memories Come From? Where Are Memories Stored?
The widespread misconception is that memories arise from specific patterns of neurons firing in the brain, as if each memory has its own dedicated circuit board. According to this erroneous belief, all of a person’s memories, spanning an entire lifetime, are permanently etched into the brain and can be accessed by flipping a switch to establish the necessary electrical connections. For instance, the memory of your sixth birthday party is supposedly embedded in a distinct location in the brain, alongside every other recollection you have of your life. Consequently, millions of neurons are supposedly reserved exclusively for each memory, and they can’t be repurposed for anything else.
The notion that memories are stored in the brain is archaic and naïve
Storing vast numbers of memories and keeping the neurons reserved for every memory from a lifetime is impossible. The neurons are renewed about 10,000 times in a lifetime. We lose around 1,000 brain cells a day. That means losing some 100 billion cross-linkages. That memory of our birthday party at age six would have been lost long ago.[i]
The notion that memories are stored solely in the brain presents additional challenges. Simon Berkovich, a computer science expert from the United States, and Herms Romijn, a brain researcher from the Netherlands, reached the same conclusion independently: the brain cannot possibly store all of our thoughts and experiences from our entire lives. To do so would require the brain to have a processing speed of 1024 bits per second, which is not feasible. Even watching just an hour of television would exceed our brain’s processing capacity for memory retention. According to physician Pam Van Lommel, storing such a vast amount of information and the related thoughts would fill up the brain’s capacity. “Anatomically and functionally, it is simply impossible for the brain to have this level of speed,” she states.[ii]
There are more reasons the notion that memories are stored in the brain is unsupportable. Some individuals remember every event that happened every day of their lives. The ability is called “hyperthymesia.” Actress and author Marilu Henner can recall everything that happened every day of her life. It would be impossible for all those memories to be stored in neurons dedicated to each memory in the brain.[iii]
Kim Peek, whose life inspired the movie Rain Man with Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise, had macrocephaly resulting in damage to the cerebellum. He didn’t learn to walk until age four and walked in a sidelong manner throughout his life. He could not button his shirt and had difficulty with other motor activities. His IQ score was well below average.
Despite his shortcomings, Peek possessed an extraordinary ability to recall information. He achieved the remarkable feat of memorizing more than 12,000 books, and had an encyclopedic knowledge of geography, music, literature, history, sports, and nine other fields of expertise. His memory was so exceptional that he could effortlessly recite all the area codes in the United States, as well as the major city zip codes. In addition, he memorized the maps found in telephone books and could provide precise directions for traveling from one US city to another, including how to navigate the streets of that city, down to the last detail.[iv] All of those memories could not be stored in the tiny capacity of the brain.
People can also access memories they never experienced so they could not be stored in the brain. Psychics can access memories about other people’s lives with great accuracy. Past-life regression sessions result in people being able to recall memories of someone else’s life that are checked out and found to be true. People can predict the future, but neurons have not been established for the memories. Mental mediums can recall events from people’s lives without having the events processed in the brain. Remote viewers can bring to mind pictures, objects, and scenes distant from them that they have never experienced, so the memories could not have been stored in the brain.[v]
We know memories are not coming from neurons in the brain. Then where do they come from?
Where Do Memories Come From?
Memories are experiences. We can have an experience of a sight, sound, touch, smell, taste, or bodily sensation by intending it to come into awareness. The experiences are not stored. They are simply accessible. We access them by intending to have the experience. We are so accustomed to thinking of records as being stored in file cabinets or on hard drives that we conceive of memories as being stored in some location in some medium. However, we must not think of memories as “stored.” Instead, they are simply accessible.
No effort to describe a location or medium for the memories will be adequate. There is a suggestion they are in the Akasha, a vast storehouse of everything that ever was or ever will be. The records are called Akashic records. That terminology is fine as long as it doesn’t suggest there is an immense library somewhere with all the records in storage like files in a filing cabinet or on a hard drive. The experiences in memories are simply accessible.
These experience memories include everything that ever was or ever will be, in experiences, thoughts, feelings, and everything else that some individual has experienced. The aptest conceptualization is the visualization by Herman Minkowski, Einstein’s professor, who suggested the concept of space-time. Space and time, he suggested, are in a block. Experiences in space and time that are in what we call the past or future are all in some location in that block. They are all accessible.
How Can Memories Be Accessed?
All the experiences that ever were or ever will be, including experiences happening only in the mind, are accessible from the block of space-time. Then the questions are, How can specific memories be accessed? and Which are available for me to access?
The experiences come from our activities during our days in Earth School and from cues that bring experiences into awareness from what we call “memory.” During our journey in Earth School, we might see a bird, hear the bird’s song and the rustling of leaves, smell the pleasant natural smell of a forest, taste the mint we have in our mouth, and feel a cool breeze across our arms. Every now instant, the experiences in awareness change to a new set of Earth School sensory experiences.
Our awareness is also filled with memory experiences and insights. The bird singing may bring to mind Mom’s love of cardinals, which might cue into awareness Mom’s face, which might cue into awareness the image of Mom’s ceramic cardinal, and on and on. The cued experiences in awareness are a form of intention we do not manipulate. Having an experience in awareness cues other experiences that are brought into awareness by Our Universal Intelligence. The experiences come to us because we are engaged in the experience of Mom.
The association of memories with other memories is called “associative networks.”[vi]
Cues increase the chances that we will be able to bring experiences into awareness. The cues are much like intentions. When we have an experience in awareness, the experience cues other experiences related to the experience. As we are trying to remember something, we are scanning our experiences to see whether one of them fits. Each time we bring a memory experience into awareness, it is a cue for other memory experiences. We perform this activity when speaking. We scan our repertoire of experiences looking for the word that is associated with the concept we have in mind, or we scan our repertoire by thinking of the concept hoping that will be a cue to accessing the word. The associated experience memories come into awareness automatically as we go through the process of “re-membering” and speaking.
Experiences come based on probabilities
The experiences come into our awareness based on probabilities. The highest probabilities are experiences from our moment-to-moment presence in Earth School in the form of sights, sounds, smells, tastes, touches, senses of motion, senses of position, and bodily sensations. While we are in Earth School, they dominate our minds because we must attend to them to navigate through the Earth School experiences and learn lessons. They are more often 100 percent probable to come into awareness than any other experiences.
However, other experiences come to us as thoughts, impressions, sentiments, memories, and any of the other experiences we call “inner experiences” or “mental experiences.” When we intend to have an inner experience, it immediately comes to 100 percent probability because of our intention to have the experience. Conscious awareness is always occupied by some experience unless we are sleeping, anesthetized, or in a coma. If we intend to remember someone’s face, the face occupies that point of now in conscious awareness. Our conscious awareness, with its limited capacity, is not attending to anything else around us as long as we are focused on the face, although our attention can be interrupted by someone’s voice, a loud sound, or other stimulus.
The experiences we are able to access and the probabilities that we will experience them make up our Earth School Mind. The experience memories with highest probabilities for being accessed will come to mind when we’re thinking, solving a problem, interpreting what someone has said, making a decision, and every other normal daily activity. When we see our spouse or child, there is a 100 percent probability we’ll have the experience of the person’s name come to mind. When we see a person who looks familiar, but we can’t remember who that person is, the probability of experiencing the person’s name drops to 10 percent or some other lower percentage. Other higher-probability experiences will come into Awareness: “I think her name is Joan, or maybe Jane.” We then must go to some 100 percent probable experiences to recall the name, such as scanning our repertoire of experiences about places we might have seen the person. A cue from one of the experience will result in the person’s name coming into 100 percent probability—we will “re-member” it.
People with hyperthymesia, who remember virtually every event on every day of their lives, have high probabilities for a huge number of memory experiences. People with Down syndrome have very low probabilities for recall of most memory experiences in their lives. We chose the level of ability to access memories we have in Earth School during our pre-birth planning.
We acquire the probabilities from events in Earth School and from our past experiences. We can change the probabilities; we are masters of our minds. But we must change the probabilities through effort. To change the probabilities, we must make the probabilities of accessing certain experiences higher so they are more prominent than other experiences. Experiences that have lower probabilities don’t disappear. The new experiences have higher probabilities, so they come up first in conscious Awareness. When we feel we have forgotten something, it isn’t that the memory isn’t accessible. It’s just that when we try to access it, other experiences interfere with the access.
So we practice the piano to develop adept experiences that have 100 percent probability of coming into subconscious awareness while we’re playing a concerto. Developing these experiences takes time and repeated trial and error. Once experienced, however, all the 100 percent probable experiences of the correct notes, sequencing, posture, timing, pressure on keys, pressure on foot pedals, and all the other experiences involved in playing result in a virtuoso performance. The performance is just a complex recall of the 100 percent probable experiences aided by the creativity of the Universal Intelligence.
The Taxonomy of Experiences We Can Bring into Awareness
“Cues” and “intentions” are inseparable. They may be considered one phenomenon. We have a cue that brings some memory to mind, such as having our spouse’s face come to mind and recalling we must meet her for lunch. That cue came spontaneously. However, we can intend to have our spouse’s face come to mind or intend to recall we must meet her, but those still result from some cue. Some cues and the corresponding memories are easily accessible; we have a high probability of being able to access them. Others are at a low level of probability; we can’t quite remember them. We can construct a taxonomy of types of experiences we can bring into our awareness based on the probabilities and cues. The taxonomy is for our personal access to the experiences. All the experiences are accessible or were accessible at a high level of probability by someone sharing Our Universal Intelligence.
Category 1: Current experience
The experiences we are now having from the earth realm and our inner workings such as thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations are at the most prominent level of our awareness. They come to awareness without intention and have a 100% probability of coming to mind.
Category 2: Memories of recent events
The experiences we have had recently come easily to mind from our intention and cues. We can’t recall where we put our keys. We bring to mind the cue of remembering setting them down and intend to recall where that was. The probabilities of having these experiences are possibly 80% to 100% because we are intending to have them come to mind but may not easily cue up the place where the keys are. The experience memories are accessible. They’re not “stored” in short-term memory in the brain.
Category 3: Memories of past events
Other memories of experiences from any point in our lives are accessible, with some being at a lower probability of being accessible. They might pop into our minds, or we may cue them into our awareness using our intention. Some memories may be cued up unexpectedly, such as remembering Aunt Martha when we smell a fragrance like the perfume she wore. We would say those memories we can cue up by just intending to recall something have a high probability of being cued. Those we’ve “forgotten” have a lower probability. “Forgetting” just means we aren’t able to cue the memory into awareness. Nothing is ever lost. Every experience is accessible.
Category 4: Intuitions or psychic knowledge
Some experiences come to mind from a source outside of us. All of us have intuitions that are cued in spontaneously during an activity such as problem-solving. Psychics have special abilities to cue experiences about another person’s life. All of those are experiences in the block of space-time that are accessible. For psychic knowledge, the probability a non-psychic individual could access the experiences is 0%. They are still accessible. The non-psychic just doesn’t have the cues to bring them into awareness.
Category 5: Past-life regressions
People experience the experiences from other people’s lives. They are coming from an intimate connection in the higher self between these two personalities. During life planning, the new individual’s life can be based on the framework of another individual who has lived on earth. The past-life regression experiences can be cued up by some experience the person has on earth now. This person on earth now has cues that bring to mind the experiences from that other person’s life.
Category 6: The vast realm of experiences that have ever occurred, from any time and any place, in events, thoughts, or feelings.
Thus far in the taxonomy, the experiences have been accessible because the person has some cues to bring the experiences into awareness. However, all the rest of the experiences from all time in all places are accessible, but people have no ability to access all but those intimately connected with them. We don’t have the cues to access Washington’s thoughts as he crossed the Delaware river. However, the experiences of his thoughts are as fully accessible as the memory of where we left our keys. It’s just that virtually all experiences cannot be cued up into our awareness.
[i] Dean Radin, The Conscious Universe: The Scientific Truth of Psychic Phenomena (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1997), 118-124
[ii] Tijn Touber, “Life goes on,” Ode, 29 (2007, January)
[iii] Allison Langdon, “People Who Remember Every Second of Their Life,” 60 Minutes Australia, filmed September 21, 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hpTCZ-hO6iI.
[iv] Darold Treffert, “The savant syndrome: an extraordinary condition. A synopsis: past, present, future.” Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. May 27, 2009. 364(1522):1351-7.
[v] R. Craig Hogan, There Is Nothing but Mind and Experiences, Greater Reality Publications, 2015, pp. 119-130.
[vi] Reid Hastie, “A computer simulation model of person memory,” Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 24 (1988): 423—147, cited in Psychology Research and Reference, https://psychology.iresearchnet.com/social-psychology/social-cognition/associative-networks/