On Memory, Thought, and Intelligence

Through my studies, I have found that one of the single biggest discrepancies between people with autism and NTs is memory.

Personally, I have excellent long Term Memory. Facts, pictures, conversations, diagrams, experiences, music, ideas, knowledge, I have no problem remembering it once it is in my LTM. Short Term Memory, not so much. My long term memory is almost exclusively in pictures. There may be a few exceptions (eg SOHCAHTOA and the Seabus announcement) are embedded with words, but my prime mode of memory is pictures. I have tried to remember Pi through reciting words to failure, but I do have long term memory of the first 35 digits of pi by simple recitation. My memory of pictures and speeches is also excellent, as I can recite entire speeches I gave months ago word for word with no review.
What makes me so smart is not only my LTI though. It is also my ability to manipulate and control my thoughts to think and "feel" literally. I like to call this "conductive analysis" because it sounds nice but is in fact just a nonsense term. An example would be my ability to "feel" literally what a football player would be feeling when it is 10 minutes from kickoff for the superbowl, I am actually feeling exactly what he is feeling, the nervousness, even though I am 900 km away. Another example is my ability to look out the window at the park, and make a gigantic shape that is located on the grass field, completely 3 dimensional, and I can "fly" over it with my mind and envision what it would look like from different angles.

Of course, I have just finished Temple Grandin's Thinking in Pictures and have only very recently (while reading her book) realized to the extent at which my "visual thinking" and "visual memory" and "ability to Connect" to others' feelings differs from so many of my peers, and is so similar to those that people with autism possess. No wonder the majority of my elementary friends possessed autism, because I was able to relate to them.

Like Temple, I can design facilities or systems in my head and mentally "run" them without actually operating the system. An example is one I use frequently, especially when designing transit networks, is to mentally be on the bus, to mentally see the sight that I would see on a regular trip (again, I think in pictures so I can actually reproduce images of the moving streetscape in my mind), reproduce the sounds and feeling and even smell and what I would be doing if I were on the bus mentally. This way, actually being on the bus, I would tell any errors in my schedule, the traffic on that route and estimate the time recovery should be, and count the traffic lights that would delay the trip.

Though I have to admit it, I can think in words, which is the main discrepancy between me and autistics, that they cannot in any way think in words, but what differs me from NT peers is that I can, again, I CAN think in pictures if it is easier.

So to clarify, I think in both words and pictures, but only remember in pictures and feelings. What is new, is that this has been my main language since... Forever. I, until reading her book thought that everyone thought that way (I had suspension last year but she verified it), that everyone could actually mentally "see" or visualize their bed in front of their mind at any time. But it is crude reality that they can't. Similarly  I encountered crude reality again here: I thought that people got C+ and lower grades because they weren't trying, but this was only partially correct. What I found is that people, even if they tried, couldn't get anything better than a C+; that they really were that stupid. The reason for this is, to repeat, they lacked visual thinking, visual memory, and with that, an adequate LTI. What has been my main mode of thinking for all my life, I thought existed in everybody, and it does, though just more naturally in me than almost all others.

Note that as I am typing this, I am not forming sentences before I type, I start typing what I am seeing in my mental picture, then typing each word as it fits the picture; I think in pictures and instantaneously translate it into words, I have no idea of the words in the sentence I am about to type before I start typing, but I already mentally with pictures or feelings know what I
am to type about, (ie the idea of the sentence, I just can't translate into words yet)  and after each word I type, I can then continue to my next thought. This is how my run on sentences come about, I start on one topic, then as I am about to finish the sentence, I realize that I have not finished my thought and I continue to describe the thought.

I really want to expand on the idea that I have described in the paragraph above, and highlight that I don't start writing my sentence with any of the words in the sentence complete. In almost no time, instantaneously, because I already have the idea of my sentence in mind, I am able to find the right word and express myself. I already have finished my sentence in feelings (or pictures) regardless in my mind BEFORE any words are found. If my idea takes more than one sentence (eg the highlighted part above is only one train of thought that took me 3 sentences to explain), I will continue to write until all of the picture in my mind is filled in, until the whole picture is translated into words, leading to a possibly highly repetitious sentences. The problem I am having how is that ideas flow into my mind as I type words (eg: new Ideas in pictures (or feelings) are coming into my mind at the same time as I explain my old idea) that the length of time that I need to explain my idea in words is too lengthy and I forget (but luckily remember sometimes again) what my new idea was long before I have finished explaining half my old idea.

I have theorized that I think like a computer with binary. I am looking for the correct word in a sentence, so I  scour my mind for words, my brain searching 10,000 words per second, assigning a "0" or "no" if it doesn't fit the meaning I am looking for, a "1" or "yes" if it matches slightly, then continuing until I get a handful of words that fit.

This writing process is so supernatural and quick and mind-blowing, even to myself, because, subconsciously, with the wide sky that is the brain, I am able to simultaneously:
  • form new idea in pictures (or feelings), 
    • Involves thinking of what I have already written and using associative thinking (I think) to connect old ideas and manipulate them into thoughts. 
    • translate my old idea into words 
  • Involves using correct grammar, unconsciously typing the correct buttons on the keyboard 
    • Involves searching for the correct words with the binary process above 
    • Review what I have written 
  • Constantly, as I am typing this, I am able to remember that the word that I was unable to get that I was looking for 4 paragraphs up has just been found. 
    • I am also continuously pressing backspace and reviewing what I have just written a second ago and in the last point to see if I have missed anything. 
  • And breathe and shake my leg and be aware of time and listen for intruders and listen to Mozart's 13th piano concerto all at the same time

When so many brain processes are simultaneously operating, I experience jumbling of different thoughts that affects my output. (Eg an idea in my thoughts may interfere with my typing which would make me type the wrong adjective or noun)

And I am a different person than when I first started writing this post (1 hr ago). I actually only meant to write the 1st 4-5 paragraphs but naturally, with associative thinking, I was able to extend this short rant to a full scope essay, and thoughts continue to flood me as I type. And so through this post, I myself has learned more and I have tried to express what ideas have come; I could call this an epiphany, but it is simply a mere sudden bonding of facts and experiences that I have collected in the previous months that have been put together and made sense from in an hour.

But I was not finished the point that I wanted to make for I made this post for so I will continue:
Another factor that puts me above my NT peers is my ability to learn quick, and I mean completely absorb textbooks in less than half the time of the others. And by absorb, if the leanings are successfully translated into pictures, it will stay in my LTM.

Which begs the question, if my LTM has so much information, even from long gone years, wouldn't the info be extremely out of date? And this is what I fear the most. With a fabulous memory, specifically a excellent LTI, thought processes are completely altered by the memories, and the abundance of info blinds the possessor. And with memory, the sheer excess of it, will reduce a person's intelligence.

Lets see why: If you have too much info about.. lets say... the price of big macs. The information you would gather from 10 years ago (eg $3.00) or in different places (Eg 18 RMB or $2.55 USD or $3.60 in whistler) or simply another hamburger (eg $3.50 Quarter Pounder) would, the excess of memory would, hinder and obscure the actual price of a big mac where you want to know if you have enough change for (eg $3.40).

I often experience this problem by not knowing where I put things (eg my touque). I put it where it is an obvious place that I come across everyday, yet, when I need to look for it, my memory and visual thinking can make me vividly visualize my touque in a drawer, or remember that I put it on the bookshelf, but in fact, it is in my backpack; I remember it on the bookshelf because I remember I put it there last week, but forget that I replaced it somewhere else.

And this is what I fear about myself, and is what I believe is a major contributing catalyst to a person becoming a person with autism, that memory interferes with thought and hinders intelligence.

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