the_choir: (Fireez)
[personal profile] the_choir
[ profile] child_recalled asked me to post an entry about the neurological and neurochemical backgrounds of memory formation and their implications for multiples, and since the mysterious workings of the mind are one of my main interests, I'm all too happy to oblige.

A note to the reader: I'm not going to go into great detail here, but rather oversimplify things as a means to make them more understandable. If you're further interested in neurology and memory, I recommend getting a textbook from your local library.

"If your soulbond is from France, why can't you speak French?"
"You say your headmate is a pianist, but you can't play the piano!"
"If you have a pilot in your brain, you should be able to fly a plane."
"You're just making them up, they don't exist!"

Stuff like that has been posted to communities and personal journals of plurals more than once. And it's also not uncommon for the plural persons themselves to ask such questions. After all, we claim to be several distinct, individual people, each with their own personalities, personal history and memories.
So why can't we access the skills that some of us possess? Does this mean we're all fake, and that it's nothing but the imagination of the host?

Maybe. I can't discount, on a rational basis, the arguement that I, and other multiples, are just making everything up.
But what I can do is shoot down the arguement that if you cannot access one of your headmate's skills, this constitues as proof that you're making things up.

Memory as such isn't some mystical woo-woo thingy, floating around our brains like clouds across the sky. A memory, especially one that is the basis of a learned skill (such as a foreign language, riding a bike, playing the piano), is formed by the neurons in certain areas of the brain setting up new neuronal pathways or, in some cases, fine-tuning old ones. To be able to ride a bike, neuron A has to make connections to neurons B, C and D, which in turn have to make connections to neurons E and F. You can think of it in terms of joining several computers to build a network.
And, like with building a network of computers, this takes time. Most skills, especially the more complex ones, take a lot of learning before they can be executed with confidence. New pathways don't appear out of the blue, from one second to the other. That would be hideously uneconomical, because learning actually takes a lot of resources and puts considerable strain on the body, and so our brains don't form pathways for stuff that's not important (read: that we don't seem to really need, because we're not repeatedly being confronted with the need for the skill).

So, the bottom line is: If the pathways aren't there, the memory isn't there, and the skill is unaccessible
Now, let's take a look at the brain of a plural. Plurals, like everybody else, posses one, and only one, brain. This brain does what every brain does: it takes care of the body and guides it through the challenges of life.
Let's say this brain belongs to a girl named Jen. Jen lives in the USA, and has never been to France, nor has she ever heard one word of French in School, or from friends, neighbours etc. Now Jen is plural, and one of her headmates is a French girl named Marie. Does this mean Jen should be able to understand French?

If you've been reading along with half your brain turned on, you should be able to answer this for yourself: of course not, because the physical body and physical brain of Jen never had any contact with the language, and therefore the need to build pathways for French never existed. No need, no pathways. It doesn't matter if Marie would like to be able to speak what she thinks of as her mother tongue. The only thing that matters is that there never was a physical, tangible need to speak French.

Let me put this in a little analogy.
Think of the plural's brain as the family computer. It has a certain hardware, let's say a 10GB hard-disk, 256MB of RAM, and a G-Force2 graphics chip. This hardware configuration was bought because it was perfectly all right for the tasks that the original buyer, Jen, needed it for - she doesn't game much, and wanted to save her money for other things. Now, she gets a new roommate, and this roommate, Marie, is a big gamer and wants to play a game with some really high-end graphics. Well, she won't be able to, because the computer lacks the hardware which is necessary for that purpose. If she wants to game, she'll first have to talk Jen into buying new hardware. This then has to be bought and installed before Marie can play WoW.
It's the same with learned skills: most of the time, they're going to need a lot of new hardware before you can have fun with them.

So nope, not being able to access certain skills that your headmates have doesn't invalidate your existance, because it's just not possible. Same as it would be ludicrous to demand a 100-m-dash from a plural whose body is bound to a wheelchair just because one of his headmates can walk.

Date: 2006-09-12 09:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I like this. I like it a lot. It makes a lot of sense.

Also, you guys need to get on messenger sometime.

Date: 2006-09-12 10:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thanks! :)
(deleted comment)

Date: 2006-09-12 10:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
My pleasure :). I've always wanted to write something like this up, because lots of sb'ers/plural people seem to get really angsty and self-concious over the whole skillz thingy. Which they needn't be.

Date: 2006-09-12 09:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
::loud obnoxious cheering and applause::

This is going in our memories here, so if anyone ever demands a Cross Grave (or demonstration of dowsing) out of Jane we can explain exactly why it wouldn't work.

We're not exactly a multiple system, either (despite the appearance of the above... they rather cut me off in mid-typing of the thought, but got the point across anyhow), and still aren't sure about the plural thing.

BUT. This explains exactly why (frustratingly) I'm not able to do certain things the boys are in their respective bodies and worlds.

I haven't got 1337 shaman skills OR an Innocence, nor have I ever heard Hindustani (Indian?) spoken or had Japanese lessons. Thus, no useful skills from either of the boys have carried over... though I will say that my balance has improved markedly thanks to their efforts to teach me how to keep from randomly slamming into walls and such.

In other words, THANK YOU SO MUCH~! Finally, a nice pretty-language explanation I can shove at certain people!

Date: 2006-09-12 10:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
*bows* You're welcome. And yeah, shove as much as you like/need... spread the word of education!

Date: 2006-09-13 12:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
This is the way Selene tends to think of it.

I mean, we hear stuff that sounds like Japanese from Chloe, but mostly it's just that we hear something that doesn't sound like english. She's trying to speak a language none of us here know, so all we get is the impression that it should be Japanese.

We also apply it to memories in general. Whatever we have now, we're either lucky to have it, or it got created once we were here. Because, you know. Memories are mostly in the brain too, at least the ones we can access readily.

Date: 2006-09-13 02:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
That's the experience I get. That the connections aren't quite firing right. My soulbond is new, but I have an SC that I've had for a while that speaks French fluently. I feel like I should be able to bust out in French when he speaks it, but it just won't come.

On the other side of that, I actually tried to take a French class and my accent was near perfect because on some level, I'd been hearing it forever. It also kind of felt like once the words were in front of me, it was just natural to speak it. Having had someone in my brain who spoke it must have left some kind of impact or pathway, I figure.

Date: 2006-09-15 06:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Very well written. I'm going to add it to the memories for us. Would you mind if I linked it in our journal, too?

This is how I feel, and how I explain that I can't seem to do the things I was able to do before. It's a different brain. It also explains why my memories of my old life are pretty patchy. I kept the most important ones, the ones that have to do with personal identity and that were important to me, but I lost a lot as well. It would be like trying to save a hard drive's worth of information on a CD. It's not all going to fit.

Date: 2006-09-16 06:28 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thanks :) and nope, I wouldn't mind. Part of the reason I wrote this is that many multiples have some inklings on psychology, and lots of theories on philosophy, but lack basic knowledge of how the brain functions.
(deleted comment)

Date: 2006-09-17 10:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
You're welcome :).

Date: 2006-09-18 06:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Just another thank you for writing this, and note that we're adding this to our memories as well.

Date: 2006-09-25 04:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
This is a damn fine essay.

Also, have seen you around on communities and you seem interesting and such. Would you mind if we add you?

Date: 2006-09-25 04:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you!

And no, go right ahead. We shall add you back :)

Date: 2007-04-20 02:59 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Fireez, you have just made us uncover traumatic memories of our BioPsych class. Thanks for actually putting some of that semester to use--I was beginning to think it was good for nothing. A good decent explanation for the nonce.


Date: 2007-12-01 12:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I know I am commenting on this entry rather late, but this was extremely helpful. This is already my belief on obtaining skills at front: people there have to actually use the brain to learn whatever it is out front. It's not as though such things appear by magic, and I do wish that people would realize that.

Date: 2011-10-06 04:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you for linking us to this. We are not as finely versed in neuroscience as you are, but you've gotten across the point I was attempting to make. Thank you so much.

May we share this with other Soulbonders? As in, link to it from my article on as a "Read more" sort of thing?

Date: 2011-10-06 06:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
You're welcome!

And I'd be honored, so please, feel free :).

Date: 2011-10-07 05:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Done, you can see it here:
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