Predicting Memories (and other amazing tricks…)
Posted on May 3, 2011 by Dr. Greg Wilder

Actual MRI showing your memory at work...

Actual MRI showing your memory at work...

While nobody knows quite how human memory works on a biological level, it’s clear that our memory function is responsible for much more than just our ability to recognize people, places, and things.  For example:

  1. Lists. Of course our memory allows us to keep track of multiple things, but then, so does written language.  This basic type of memory function makes computers invaluable, but it’s not unique to us.
  2. Associations. For most people a single word calls to mind dozens of specific memories (directly and indirectly related) that include specific places, people, events, sequences of events, etc.  A single word (in conjunction with its associations) can be all that’s needed to get someone chatting for hours on end.
  3. Prediction. Without access to our uniquely adapted memory structure, we wouldn’t be able to predict events beyond the present moment.  We rely on past experiences (courtesy of our memories) to inform how we might imagine events in the future. And as it turns out, this ability to predict has intense consequences — in a good way…

In fact, much like dreams, the act of prediction is really the combination of past memories with alterations to their original order or even their content.

Clearly, our unique ability to imagine future events allows us to plan.  But most importantly to how Clio works, the ability to predict brings with it the power to attribute meaning to events as they change (or are changed) over time.

Translation? Effective musical understanding begins and ends with the ability to remember and intelligently predict … and is one reason Clio’s analysis algorithms are rewriting the book on content-based recommendations.