wondering

Reading the New Yorker at the laudromat today, I stumbled at several sentences and had to backtrack. As usual, when I don’t follow I sentence a sentence, I quickly assume that the author is at fault. But, after many such experiences, I’ve come to understand and accept that it’s no fault of them, but the new me: the brain with same the old cognition, but the missing parser. It’s that old cognition that fools me each time. I know I can understand, so if I don’t get a sentence right away, it must be bad writing. I wonder how many Alzheimer’s feel just this way — I’m fine, the world is all awry and everyone in it daft.

Today, in any case, it occurred to me that maybe a large part of what accounts for the deficits is just short-term storage — holding on to a subject over many relative clauses before the verb, or holding onto a negation way high up in the sentence, remembering to interaction interact with a negation later down.

Not everything can account for short-term storage. The scrambling of formulaic phrases, dropped prepositions, dropped verbs, random arrangements of parts of speech, mistaken parts of speech — these are likely not all just an effect of a shortened store.

That does not entail that shortened store is not caused by some underlying structure or dynamic which also caused the rest of the deficits. One prop of a machine can disable storage independently from  retrieval and from branching. But I haven’t much more than straws in the wind what that prop might be.

2 Responses to “wondering”

  1. Dorothy Ross Says:

    I don’t think it is short term memory, since you are reading long, grammatically complex sentences. The patients that I see with short term memory problems lose track in the middle of most or all complex sentences.

    One thing that I noticed in a number of your sentences was changing another form to a verb – which is a correct grammatical process in English, only not working in that sentence, for example,

    3.1/25 “Last this for a week”

    intended: let this last for a week

    4. 1/24 “You might favorite your own composer”

    intended: you might have a favorite composer

    • rob Says:

      I’ve notice as well that I often add -ing to all sorts of parts of speech: The website stilling data [the website still has data]. I’ve done this with nouns too. And it’s much worse when I’m tired or just waking. Sometimes I can almost feel my brain.

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