I’ve written dozens of pages about this. I’ve done tons of research, trying to understand my brain, and damn. The way we build memories is kind of hard to describe. No matter how hard I try, I’ve failed at making it all fit into a small series of thoughts. So I’m doing my best, but I’m also cheating.
I’ll break it down into some general statements, stay to the end for an interactive activity.
- When you remember something, you are remembering you last memory if it, not the original.
- When you think about two things at the same time, your brain tries to connect them.
- If you get stung by a bee, and it hurts, you now have an association with “bees” connected to “hurts”.
- These connections can strengthen or weaken over time.
- You can learn (or unlearn) most of associations on purpose.
- You can associate a lemon scent with a sweet flavor, if you repeatedly eat lemons with Miracle Berries (an actual thing that makes sour things taste sweet).
- You can also unlearn something big through exercises!
- At the combined discretion of your significant other, therapist, doctor, and good judgment, you could expose yourself to a stimulus without a negative fall out, in order to reduce an association.
- I used to fear needles. Then I worked at a hospital, and there were needles everywhere. They weren’t being used on me so, over time, I became less sensitive around them, and now I don’t mind them at all!
I don’t feel like I’m doing a great job of this (cue my anxiety about sounding like an idiot combined with my anxiety of making someone less smart while trying to educate them). But there is a way! Jenny turned me on to Neurotic Neurons, an interactive toy/lesson/game! Check them out. I have been doing it much longer than is productive, but it’s fun, so there. I totally wish I built it, but totally didn’t. I probably got distracted by some Oreo cookies, and I can’t say no, so now someone else gets to be famous for making an awesome toy.