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Old 11-29-05, 01:00 PM
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Associations in the mind (interesting)

IF YOU WANT THE SHORT VERSION DON't READ THE BRACKETS (Others should do this...I often don't read the long posts)

***[I was recently diagnosed with ADD while taking a semester off of college. In the diagnosis, the psychologist also determined that I have an extremely strong short-term memory, and an extremely weak long-term. He gave many reasons why this might be, including my mind making rapid associations and trying to remember things with route memory.

I think both of these are a problem with people who have ADD. I have read here that others also did not know the best ways to learn things and use route memory when they should not. The associations, however, were very interesting to me and after thinking about it a few days I found that it was a very accurate diagnosis and was indeed how I think.]***

START HERE FOR SHORT VERSION

I could be completely wrong here and it may just be me, but I believe that a reason people with ADHD are distractible and often have long term memory problems, is that their brains make rapid associations that they are uncontrollable.

Let me explain: A sight, sound, word, number etc. reminds the brain of a memory or thought (can be simple or complex, weak or strong). ADDers cannot push it into the back of the mind like others because their minds work too quickly. If this new thought is interesting enough,it becomes the new main focus. If not, it gets associated with another, rapidly passing into and out of the mind. ***[Here is an example that I was able to record while i was "slowed down" on Adderall. This occured in about 10 - 15 seconds so I probably missed a few of them:

I was doing something mind-numbing at work (internship) > Thought of a new, more efficient way to do it > Thought how people with ADD can often find cretive ways to do things (from Driven to Distraction) > Thought of Ender's Game, a book about a boy genius (he did things differently) > Thought about Harry Potter (another young boy who solves problems no one else can) > Thought about someone telling me about a kid who made a Harry Potter website who makes a 6 figure income off it > Thought about a recent website idea I had > Thought about the friend who I came up with the content of the website idea with > Thought about how I had e-mailed him earlier > Thought I should check my e-mail to see if he had sent one back]***
(anyone else have examples?)

The e-mail idea was the one that was interesting enough to stop the association train. In ten seconds I had gone from thinking about my work to checking my e-mail by way of 10+ connections in my mind. This explains distractibility and also the creativity that is often said to go along with ADD.

A problem with this is that often the associations occur at such a speed that the person with ADD often doesn't know how they got from one thought to another. Also people with ADD cannot control what sets off this string of connections and it can be set off by simply glancing at something.

Let me know what you think about my hypothesis. Some people may believe this is untrue, or I may be stating the obvious. For those who have never thought about it, however, I was hoping it might be very interesting and helpful. If this is you, try to think about this throughout the day tomorrow and see if it makes sense. Try to catch yourself making rapid associations and write them down.
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Old 11-29-05, 02:16 PM
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Welcome to the forums. I am glad you were able to finally get the diagnosis after all of these years. In my opinion, you have just achieved the most difficult part of understanding ADHD.

In my opinion, your explaination is 100% right on. This is the exact example I use to describe what is is like to have ADHD. I was not able to pick up on it until I started taking medication too. I would assume in the unmedicated state all of these thoughts would happen in a second or less.

Everything else that is a symptom of ADHD is just a co-morbid (by-product of the rapid thoughts, reactions to past interactions with others, processes built to adapt to these rapid thoughts).

Now that you are on medication, do you find college any different?

Thanks for posting this thread. It's nice to know other's can describe ADHD the same way I do.
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Old 11-29-05, 02:25 PM
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I’m not sure what you mean by ‘route memory’. Could you elaborate?

The process you’re describing isn’t really unusual; as near as we can tell, it’s pretty much the standard way neural structures work in all of us, normal and ADDer alike.

What is unusual is being aware of it in the way you are, awareness quite common for ADDers. Our primary model for this capability involves a difference in how the information you’re accessing to traverse that path is stored.

Since the difference itself involves a particular kind of association, this might also be what you’re referring to at the beginning of your post.

One of our models of distractibility in ADDers involves exactly what you’re describing, a kind of uncertainty about what to do with this view of that ongoing flood of associations. We aren’t taught how to deal with it, either directly or by example, because it doesn’t yet exist as an element of our common model of the normal experience of being.

It’s entirely possible to find a similar awareness of the mechanism by which this is normally pushed below your direct attention, and learn to apply that at will. We do this all the time; we can easily judge whether we remembered to take that last Adderall by a quick check on how well we’re doing at controlling it.

That doesn’t mean that we need Adderall to accomplish it, but that the effort is different while we’re on the drug. It’s not really harder, either; just different, and Ritalin is different in yet another way.

There’s a similar application of this control mechanism to the perception of pain. Several members of my side of the family (including me) routinely control the pain associated with dentistry in this way, simply because it’s so much simpler than going through the hassle of numbing the area first (which hurts anyway) and then dragging a numb mouth around for an hour after.

My mom had a full mastectomy with nothing but local anesthesia. The doctor almost didn’t make it, but she was fine. It’s just a trick, sort of like focusing for a moment and just shutting the pain off. But you can’t do it if you don’t have a fairly well developed model of what’s going on inside you, where there aren’t really any eyes to see or ears to hear.

Pretty much exactly what you’re describing, I think. If you want to try an experiment, see if you can gradually start to ‘ride’ that flood of associations, letting it get established and then sort of raising your focus up a bit and going on with what you want to do, while it keeps roaring along underneath.

Once you start to get the feel for it, you’ll be able to dip down in and grab anything you need out of it. You can also learn to focus the full force of the flood right on certain kinds of problems.

Good luck. –T&K
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Old 11-29-05, 03:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stabile
I’m not sure what you mean by ‘route memory’. Could you elaborate?
I believe he meant to write "rote memory".
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Old 11-29-05, 04:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HighFunctioning
I believe he meant to write "rote memory".
Shoot, of course. My bad...
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Old 11-29-05, 04:45 PM
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Haha nah my bad. I had never heard the term until my pyschologist used it. I did mean ROTE.

So I guess that may seem pretty obvious to most people but I had to be told about it and then think for quite a while before realizing its truth. It was pretty exciting to me to not just know I have ADD but also to understand exactly why I can't concentrate remember things, etc.

Quote:
It’s entirely possible to find a similar awareness of the mechanism by which this is normally pushed below your direct attention, and learn to apply that at will. We do this all the time; we can easily judge whether we remembered to take that last Adderall by a quick check on how well we’re doing at controlling it.

Quote:
There’s a similar application of this control mechanism to the perception of pain. Several members of my side of the family (including me) routinely control the pain associated with dentistry in this way, simply because it’s so much simpler than going through the hassle of numbing the area first (which hurts anyway) and then dragging a numb mouth around for an hour after.
That's very interesting. So you are saying that you can control whether or not you feel pain, or how much you feel based on this mechanism? Do you mean just by concentrating or...? Can you please explain what this is, I'm not sure I understand.

Quote:
One of our models of distractibility in ADDers involves exactly what you’re describing, a kind of uncertainty about what to do with this view of that ongoing flood of associations.
Just curious... are you referring to a text of some sort or is the "our" more personal?

Quote:
Now that you are on medication, do you find college any different?
I'm in a semester off right now, I go back in January. Until then I can't REALLY tell if the adderall is working but it doesn't seem to be anything like "putting on glasses" as I've heard it described. It seems to work sometimes and not work other times...like now. Those of you who are on Adderall (XR or short-term), whats the highest prescribed dose? Also which seems to work better for you? I know this should go in the other thread and I'll look there bc I'm sure this has been asked.

Thanks for the responses
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Old 11-29-05, 10:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CollegeADHD
That's very interesting. So you are saying that you can control whether or not you feel pain, or how much you feel based on this mechanism? Do you mean just by concentrating or...? Can you please explain what this is, I'm not sure I understand.
Yup, it’s totally trivial in practice. I simply focus on the pain and as I focus, it goes away.

When I do this I’m obviously setting up some part of my internal resources to deal with that block; a more severe pain leaves me with less that I can devote to something else, up to the point that I can’t really do much but wait around until it’s over.

But that has to be something extraordinary – stuff like a severely stubbed toe (even one that was broken once) I just shut off and go on doing whatever. It’s automatic enough that I often find myself saying, “OK, I’ve got to remember that, ‘cause if I don’t, I’ll be wondering where the heck the bruise came from.”

As often as not, all I can remember is that I wanted to remember something. If I focus, I can remember it, of course; it just doesn’t seem worth the effort most of the time.

My mom used to talk about ‘floating’, and then a few years later ‘going into a special place’ in her head. But I once asked her if she didn’t feel the pain, and she said of course. She was just shutting it off, the same thing I did, but she didn‘t have a model of doing that, so she described it in spacey new-age terms.

By the time she had her mastectomy, she was describing it pretty much the way I do.


Quote:
Just curious... are you referring to a text of some sort or is the "our" more personal?
Sorry, I missed the introductions. My fault. Usually I would have started with, “Welcome to the forums, we’re Tom and Kay, and we have an AD/HD family.”

We set out in college thirty-five years ago to investigate some particular gender related errors in interpersonal communication. Twenty years later we finally began to get somewhere, and some of that has implications for what AD/HD might be and what the underlying cause might represent.

One reason that it took us this much time (and we’re still working at it) is that we both do actual normal work-and-raise-a-family stuff; once we left school we never pursued study in a pure research setting. The other reason, by far the more significant, is that the subject turned out to be incredibly complex, and some of it waited on other people’s work popping up from time to time.

Nobody works in a vacuum, and lots of our stuff derives from other research.

Much of our understanding of the neural network nuts-and-bolts was developed while I was working at a large commercial research facility, and saw application in design of analytical computer systems and equipment.

Kay is a medical professional, and I’m the hard-core logic half of the team. We always interact at some level when I post about our work, and almost all of our posts touch on it in some way. I couldn’t deny her the credit due, especially considering that often the words I post came directly from her mouth.

We usually spend her commute time reviewing what’s happening and talking about different threads; I type, she suggests words. It works for us. (grin…)


Quote:
So I guess that may seem pretty obvious to most people but I had to be told about it and then think for quite a while before realizing its truth. It was pretty exciting to me to not just know I have ADD but also to understand exactly why I can't concentrate remember things, etc.
That is fun, isn’t it? A lot of us have been there…
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Old 11-30-05, 12:19 AM
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Interesting post.... actually, I have pretty good long term memory if I try hard enough, but a pathetic short term memory--I can't remember faces, places, what I was thinking...list goes on and on.

Any non-ADDers reading this? Do you have a simmilar thought process in terms of associating thoughts? I know that many times, ADD is described as having the channels in your brain constantly switch--I've never felt this way because my thoughts are never random (the way they would be if you kept flipping channels). They may seem random to others who are not following my thought process, but in reality, there's nothing random about them.

And about the pain--lol--I can numb it out too! Except I don't focus on it, rather, I take out the emotion from it--I know taht doesn't make sense for physical pain, but somehow, that's how I'm able to numb it out.... when I broke my wrist, my hand swelled to twice its size, my arm throbbed for hours, and my entire body trembled the entire night--and yet, I didn't experience any pain--none! I was just aware of the physical symptoms of what I guess was pain.
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Old 11-30-05, 01:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CollegeADHD
Try to catch yourself making rapid associations and write them down.
....ha! yeah right... if i could write as fast as i make associations...

by the time i got to paper and pen a torrent of other things have come and gone.

sometimes, if i have a really good idea, or something i really want to write down to remember and tell someone, or ask in class or whatever, just trying to hold the one thing in my brain long enough to scribble it on some random surface is like battling against the current of a rapid river... and if there are two or three things... sometimes i am afraid to even physically move myself, for fear of losing the slippery thought-threads in my grasp...

but yeah, the theory sounds good to me. (what i managed to read... )
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Old 11-30-05, 01:37 AM
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I thought I had good long-term memory (Good grades, good SATs top 10 college) but when tested I was in the 14th percentile. I think other factors might have influenced that but...thats pretty damn low.

Thats pretty cool Stabile. I think that any better understanding is a step towards a better life for all of us. Thanks for your work.
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Old 11-30-05, 01:47 AM
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Sorry to disagree with y'all, but this actually sound like the opposite of the "cause" to me.

First, the long term memory of ADDers ranges in the same way that LTM does in "normals". Mine is excellent. My ADD son's is superb. My nonADD son's is superb. My nonADD husband's is terrible.

Second, ADDers have trouble with working memory. This is not exactly the same as short term memory. Large bodies of research support this hypothesis.

I think the association observation is quite correct; we DO make associations MUCH more than "normals". However, I don't believe rote memorization is so difficult for us because we make associations, rather we make associations because rote memorization is difficult for us. It requires working memory functions that, in ADDers, is impaired.

Example of why I believe this to be the case: my 8yo ADD son is a walking encyclopedia of facts about animals, nature, history, weather, etc. He knows SO much about the way things work and why things are the way they are. But he doesn't know his phone number (something is little brother memorized at age 3). He can't memorize math facts, but he's learned many tactics to break numbers apart and such to get at answers faster. He just learned his own birthday this year. And none of this is lack of trying; we've been drilling him for years on this stuff. He can't keep it in working memory long enough to rehe**** it. If he can bypass working memory by connecting it to something in LTM, he can recall it.

If he can connect it to something, it sticks. If not, it doesn't.
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Old 12-01-05, 01:27 AM
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Dear CollegeADHD:

Just wanted to let you know that I think the same way you do (there's no place like home--its really great to find all of you people).

Until just recently, I thought everybody thought via association, a million miles a minute. It literally blows my mind that there are people out there THAT ONLY THINK ONE THOUGHT ALL THE WAY THROUGH. How do they DO that?

For the record, I have an excellent rote memory and can remember conversations word for word (that was very helpful in college). I used to have a "photograhic" memory, but I have found that it has betrayed me.

Example: My mind can see my hands putting those oh so elusive car keys down in a certain spot; however, my mind can't seem to remember that I didn't do that TODAY, my mind doesn't seem to be paying attention to what my hands are doing.
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Old 12-01-05, 11:42 AM
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Until just recently, I thought everybody thought via association, a million miles a minute. It literally blows my mind that there are people out there THAT ONLY THINK ONE THOUGHT ALL THE WAY THROUGH. How do they DO that?
hahah yea I JUST had this revelation like a month ago. I thought that no one could control their thoughts (which is true to a certain extent but much worse for ADDers). You know, one thing that sticks out in my mind is prayer. I'm not the most religious guy out there but I come from a catholic family and I believe in most of what the church teaches. I always hated praying thought because it made me feel guilty. I could never finish the prayer...my mind would wander. haha I imagined that God doesn't take too kindly to someone starting to pray, then abruptly stopping in the middle and start thinking about something else...especially if that something else isn't the most holy thought you've ever had....

Quote:
For the record, I have an excellent rote memory and can remember conversations word for word (that was very helpful in college).
Yea I can vividly remember and even play back in my head with detail some things that happened 4 or 5 years ago. other things I forget even happened.
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Old 12-01-05, 08:32 PM
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Ha ha ha

Hey College:

Fellow Catholic here and I've only gotten thru the whole rosary once! I understand completely about those unholy thoughts too! lol. That willl be three hail Mary's and an Act of Contrition for you young man!
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