Study of foraging behaviour in the communities of Kanha Tiger Reserve with respect to different aspects of memorization

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“Memory” and how it is formed is indeed one of the widely explored processes by lots of neuroscientists and psychologists and still it remains a mysterious topic after so many years of consistent research. In recent years we have reached a rather general consensus about the stages of processing that are involved in human memory. This consensus is reflected in the development of a new class of psychological theories that differs radically from the more traditional approach to the same problems. This new approach is “Human Information Processing” which is a direct result of an attempt to view and understand “memory” as a complex system, with many interacting stages, rather than as something that mediates between the presentation of a stimulus to the subject and his eventual response.

In all the memory system aspects, “working memory” plays an essential role in complex cognition. Everyday cognitive tasks such as calculating monthly budget, reading newspaper and so on involves multiple steps with intermediate results that need to be kept in mind temporarily to accomplish the task at hand. “Working memory” is a theoretical construct that has come to be used in cognitive psychology to refer to the system underlying the maintenance of task-relevant-information during the performance of a cognitive task. (Baddeley &Hitch, 1974; Daneman and Carpenter, 1980)

As reflected by the fact that it has been labelled “the hub of cognition” and proclaimed as “perhaps the most significant achievement of human mental evolution, “it is a central construct in cognitive psychology.

This article however focuses on the working and long term memory and its process in depth and highlights key insights about the foraging behaviours of the Gondi and Baiga (tribal communities) communities that are settled in and around the Kanha Tiger Reserve.  The idea is to understand their foraging behaviour with respect to the mental maps that exists within their memory. Along with foraging as an activity, there are many other examples from their everyday lives like during agriculture practices, cleaning the house, cooking, constructing new house, cultural celebrations and so on where one can understand their concept of memory and how it is passed on from one generation to other.

The sub topics of the article are given below:

 

  1. Memory and its basic principles
  2. Process of “Human Information Processing”
  3. Memory System- A system for Perception and Memory
  4. Memory and its theories and its interpretation with respect to the foraging behaviour
  5. Long term Memory
  6. Types of memories – Explicit & Implicit (Declarative and non-declarative) Episodic and Semantic with field data. Looking at the diachronic and synchronic aspects related to memory
  7. Relationship of working memory to long term memory and knowledge

 

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  • Memory and its basic principles

Memory by and large possesses few fundamental principles. These set of principles might not apply to all types of memory but still intend to use. The reason being there are many areas of memory research where there is simply not enough data to assess, yet. The 7 basic principles of memory are as follows:

1.1.a. The cue-driven principle: In all situations, the act of remembering begins with a cue that initiates the retrieval process.

1.1.b. The encoding-retrieval principle-Memory depends on the relation between the conditions at encoding and the conditions at retrieval .Accepting this principles entails accepting 4 consequences-

  1. Items do not have intrinsic mnemonic properties
  2. Processes do not have intrinsic mnemonic properties
  • Cues do not have intrinsic mnemonic properties
  1. Forgetting is due to extrinsic factors

 

1.1.c. The cues overload principle: Cues can become associated with more and more items at various encoding opportunities, thus reducing their effectiveness at the time of retrieval.

1.1.d. The reconstruction principle: Memory, similar to other cognitive processes, is inherently constructive. Information present at encoding, cues at retrieval, memories of previous recollections, indeed, any possibly useful information, are all exploited to construct a response to a cue.

1.1.e. The impurity principle: One consequence of the reconstruction principle is the realization that on any task, people recruit and use a wide variety of information and processes. Therefore, tasks are not pure and processes are not pure, and inferences based on the assumption that a task taps a particular memory system or requires only one particular process are likely to be misguided.

1.1.f. The relative distinctiveness principle- Items will be well remembered to the extent that they are more distinct than competing items at the time of retrieval.

1.1.g.The specificity principle- Those tasks that require specific information about the context in which memories were formed are more vulnerable to interference or forgetfulness than those that rely on more general information.

 

So, from the above principles it is clear that brain helps in activating some cues and one needs to explore where these cues are actually formed, how information gets converted from a mere raw form to a memory form and how it is retrieved when needed. It has been found that more specific the cue that working memory attaches to a new learning, the easier it is for long term memory to identify the item being sought.  This process leads to an interesting phenomenon regarding the long term memory storage and retrieval.

“We store by similarity but we retrieve by difference.” Long term memory most often stores new learning’s into a network that contains learning’s with similar characteristics or associations, as perceived by the learner. This network identification is one of the connections made in working memory during rehearsal and closure. To retrieve an item, long term memory identifies how it is different from all the other items in that network.

Sharing one example from the village, where I did my research work:

I asked the Ahilyaji (the lady of the house) How you will identify your best friend in the village crowd? Now, she instantly told me “I can.” Now, if I try to go back to my question and look at the entire process, it followed few steps. She didn’t come to her answer without following these steps. How would she recognize her best friend in the village? It’s not because she has two legs, two hands and one nose. These characteristics are similar to all. So, rather than similarities one needs to see some differences, that are subtle in nature. In this case, it may be her walking style, voice or hairstyle that distinguishes her from the crowd. These unique characteristics are called “Critical attributes” that helps a person to retrieve the information faster and in an efficient manner.

(Data Source- Kadala Village, Garhi, Kanha Tiger Reserve- April 2017 )

 

  • Process of “Human Information Processing”

Firstly, newly presented information would appear to be transformed by the sensory system into its physiological representation (which may already involve a substantial amount of processing on the initial sensory image) and this representation is stored briefly in a sensory information storage system. Following this sensory storage, the presented material is identified and encoded into a new format and retained temporarily in a different storage, usually the short term memory. Then if extra attention is paid to the material, or if it is rehearsed frequently enough, or if it gets properly organized, the information is transferred to a more permanent memory system. The capacity of this more permanent memory system is so large that information that is stored must be organized in an efficient manner, if it is ever to be retrieved.

Finally, when it is necessary to retrieve information from memory, decision rules must be used, both to decide how exactly to get access to the desired information and then decide what response should be made to the information that has been retrieved. To understand this more, one needs to understand the internal structure of brain where all the sensory information is saved and then processed with the help of electric signals. The internal structure of brain broadly consists of brain stem, limbic system and the cerebrum. The brain stem looks at the vital functions like respiration, digestion and heartbeat. The limbic system comprises of thalamus, hypothalamus, hippocampus and amygdala. All the incoming sensory information is stored in the thalamus at an initial level. Hypothalamus regulates the normal state of the body and it is the hippocampus that is responsible for consolidating learning and converting information from working memory to the long term storage via electrical signals. Also this part goes through neurogenesis. Amygdala regulates individual’s interactions with external stimuli or environment. E.g. Fear, escape and mate and so on. This experience also shifts into the long term memory due to presence of extreme emotions within them.

 

“Association of emotions” with any experience makes the incidents or events more concrete and hence the chances of its retrieval are higher. The brain’s amygdala encodes emotional messages when they are strong and bonds them to learning/concrete events for long term storage. Emotions have a higher priority than cognitive processing for commanding our attention.

 

The classical example of this that I found in the village of Kadala was the entire process of “Constructing a house” by a small Baiga family of 6 people. House is a small institution itself when the family shares their togetherness, care and boding and so there is a small emotional element when it comes to sharing the memory of the same. They shared the entire process of how they make the furnace, make “Kavli (Tiles that are used above the roof) for their house, how much time does it take, what are the challenges in making it, what precautions do they have to take care of, how do they measure area, what measuring tools do they use and how do they keep an account of time. So, they are able to share all this in a detailed manner, because all this is a part of their long term memory and the events are placed in a concrete manner.

Secondly, the community member’s approximation is also quite an accurate one, because their approximation has some basic ground rules that are scientific, which their older generation was quite aware of.

Eg-1: The making of the furnace is a round shaped structure and not any other geometrical shape because they know that heat will be equally distributed to all parts (Central to periphery) So they do use principles that are efficient but might not be able to share the reasons for each.

 

Eg-2: The Gonds of this village told me about a ritual they carry out post a man is dead. On the 13th day after a person’s death, they bring an alive fish to their house and do some “puja” and then leave the fish back to the pond from where they brought it. I asked many people why they bring only fish. Do they get fish every time of the year? What if the fish is not available? Is it fine to carry any other living form other than a fish like a turtle or a tortoise and so on? What is the relevance of this ritual? Many people responded to these questions in different ways. Few said fish is essential and others said if not fish it’s fine to get some other life form too. But when I investigated this more through few more people who are called the “Wise and intellectual group of men” they shared that fish cannot be substituted by any other life form. So, the reason for having a fish in the ritual is something like this:

In a women’s womb, who has conceived a month or 2 ago, the zygote in its growing stage looks like a “Fish shaped structure” So in the Gond culture, they respect “Shapes and forms” more than anything. So, the analogy is by bringing the fish back, the people are actually welcoming the new form of birth of a person. They are praying the Almighty to bring this dead person back in the same life form that is-Human form, by honouring the shape of the fish. This looks quite interesting and insightful and opens the doors for further investigation.

Listening to this, it may be a possibility that someone in the past exposed them with the knowledge of embryology, otherwise how would they know such intricate shape of the zygote and its resemblance with the fish. Or maybe they or they forefathers had done dissections and so on. So the possibilities can be many, but this ritual is such an important and intricate part of their culture due to the emotional connection and the loss of life scenario. The brain’s amygdala encodes these information capsules and keeps it safe for further retrieval.

 

  • Memory System- A system for Perception and Memory

The basic components that form the memory system are sensation, perception, short term memory (working memory) and long term memory and last but not the least is the retrieval from the memory. The system is divided into 2 main sections- Perception and memory. By perception, we include those processes involved in the initial transduction of the physical signal into some sensory image and the identification of that list of features with a previously learned structure.  By memory we mean the processes that act to retain the material that was sent to it from the perceptual system.

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(Source- Donald A Norman and David E.Rumelhart- Model of Human Memory,1970)

 

We also need to understand that brain systems are specialised for different functions. To characterize these specializations we focus on basic trade-offs that exists within this conceptual framework. The PMC (Posterior perceptual and motor cortex), PFC (Pre frontal cortex) and HCMP (Hippocampus and related structures) play an important role in it.

4.1 Memory and its theories & its interpretation with respect to the foraging behaviour

So, now after understanding the brain structure, how we retrieve memory and so on, it’s important to understand what the theorists believe in memory and how do they perceive it. There are three prominent theories of memory that are fundamentally debated, discussed and critiqued:

  • Decay: This approach primarily revolved around the issue of the permanence or non-permanence of memory. Decay theory proposes that we learn something; a memory (trace) is formed. This trace will gradually fade away if the imprint is not occasionally reactivated. The way one remembers is by rehearsing and keeping these traces active. This is much like the physiological theory of reverberation of neurons and continues to discharge for some time and eventually stop. Hebb’s theory stated that when a pattern of neuron fire, it could be equated with a “pattern” of memory. If it keeps firing, the same memory remains and if it stops, we forget.
  • Interference – This approach maintains that a memory trace is a “permanent entity.” If we forget, it is because other permanent memories are stronger and are blocking retrieval. This is analogous to a physiological theory of structural change of neurons this says that neurons, once fired, undergo a permanent change. This pattern of permanent change is equated with a memory trace. Once it is present, it is permanent but other traces could be superimposed at a later time and therefore, retrieval could be blocked.
  • Gestalt– This theory or approach believes that traces are neither all permanent nor all temporary. Traces are constantly being transformed and memory is a fluid process. This is psychologically hard to conceive because it presupposes that somehow neurons have control over their own destiny and can interact and form new connections on their own.

Visual memories, such as remembering where to turn to drive home, seem effortless unless retrieval is compromised by dementing illnesses or injuries affecting the brain’s frontal lobes (at the front of the brain).  Studies have shown that both the frontal lobe and the occipital lobe (at the back of the brain) are critical in retrieving visual memories. But just how and when the brain’s frontal lobe affects this visual sensory region at the back of the brain during memory processes remains a mystery. The researchers have found, however, that when people remember an object’s previous spatial location, the brain is activated as if the person were actually seeing that object in its previous location.

This finding supports the notion that memory is a constructive process where various brain regions reactivate details from a previous experience and the combined information creates a memory. That is, unless this process is disrupted.

 

So, the villagers who go for foraging for hours together don’t necessarily walk together all day long. They distribute themselves into different areas and come back to the common location, they all have decided. The mental map of the territory helps them to navigate in a better way. The spatial orientation which is primarily the responsibility of the parietal lobe and the movement function which is regulated by the cerebellum enhances their activity during this period. These mental rehearsals of the motor skills, ultimately improves their performance and makes them more skilled and efficient in the foraging activities.

My experience with the foraging groups that I had accompanied was something like this:

 

4.1. a. There are different groups based on gender and age differentiation in a village. Men and women groups used go separately with their own groups. Children mostly used to accompany their mothers. If the child is an adolescent and a male, he might go with his father and in rest of all cases, children, accompanied their mothers.

4.1. b Timings – Kadala village is bang next to the forest and so these people usually go early morning or late afternoons.

4.1.c. The time spent by these communities in the forest varies from season to season and from tribe to tribe Gonds usually go for shorter durations like 2-3 hours in summers and for longer durations during rainy and winter season. The reason is that they collect some fruits and vegetables during the rainy season from the forest and it’s a leisure and relaxation time for them to enjoy the beauty of the forest. One of the man, named Bhola Singh Meravi said- “It’s like a picnic for us.” Baiga’s on the other hand collect leaves- Leaves of Mahul creeper, which they later sell and earn their money. It’s a livelihood option for them. So baiga’s go early morning to the forest and come in the afternoons.  Unlike Gonds, they do cover larger landscapes.

4.1.d. The foraging groups of villagers vary from 5-7 and even 2-3. During foraging when they enter the forest, they maintain one hand distance while walking in a straight line, like a single file in an army. One behind the other helps them to follow and also keep a steady pace. They are alert if they hear any animal’s noise or any unfamiliar sound.

4.1.e. The routes are imprinted in their brain and so they are able to navigate and forage successfully. Following are things they usually collect from the forest, during their one visit:

  • Timber collection / Firewood (around 8-10 logs per person)
  • Mahul creeper (they make ropes out of it)
  • Mahul leaves that are used as serving plates
  • Tendu, Sarai, Rehartiya, Jamun and Baramsiya sticks that are used as toothbrush for the family.
  • Fruits during the season- Mango, Plums, Tendu, Chaar, Dumar and Sihar (Sihar is a fruit of Mahul tree)
  • Vegetables during the season- Pihari (a type of mushroom that is red and white in colour) Pudpura (it’s a black coloured round vegetable) Pudpura is their favourite vegetable and they say, it tastes delicious. One of them compared it with mutton and said it tastes better than our favourite dish, mutton.
  • Bhodo, Saraipihri and Baanspihari( all different species of mushroom)
  • In rainy season, they do collect grass for their cattle.
  • Chindi tree- For making brooms in their houses.

4.1.f. They don’t carry any tools like knife or axe with them. The villagers said that since now the laws are strict, it is difficult to carry these things. If you don’t have any weapon, forest people will not punish you and let you go.

4.1. g. The children who accompany their mother usually are a kind of support system for them. It’s an unsaid way of their culture. If there is a woman with her son or daughter, they will assist their mothers and ensure everything is collected. They will keep an eye if there is an animal in the surrounding. They will collect small things like fruits, toothbrush sticks and so on.

4.1. h. These foraging groups are by and large people from the same kinship. They usually go for foraging 2-3 days in a week.  Gonds usually go in 2-3 days where Baiga usually go every day because their livelihood needs forces to collect leaves (Mahul) every day. They usually take their lunch also.

4.1.i. Gonds men I saw going to forests for timber collection more often than the Baiga men. When I tried to explore, one thing that came out distinctly was that Baiga men usually drink a lot of Mahua liquor whereas in Gonds, they have lesser usage. So Baiga men, don’t do well in agriculture and nor they go to forest to collect timber and support their family. So a woman has to perform lots of roles and also earn hard for the family.

4.1. I.Kadala village has 105 households out of which 80 of them belong to Gonds and they have a common lineage system. Around 10-12 houses belongs to Baiga tribe and the rest to Yadav.

5.1 Long term Memory:

Long term memory is the retention of facts or events that can be recalled even though they have not been continually rehearsed since their original presentation. These facts have been somehow represented in a relatively permanent state and have been remained stable during the retention interval. One important characteristic of long term memory is that it possesses an infinite capacity or ability to retain information.

There are times, however, when we are incapable of retrieving the information in this vast store house. Situations arise when we know that we have memorized some facts but simply cannot seem to recall it. It is almost as if something was blocking its retrieval. Eg: When I asked a villager, the name of her teacher, who used to teach them (since he was sharing about the how this teacher used to teach with so much of dedication) He was confused and was able to recall another teacher’s name, not this one.

Now, this “blocking” is what is known as “Interference” and this can be generated 2 ways. Either the material that interferes was learned before the information this villager was trying to recall or it was learned after it. If it was learned before, it is termed as “Proactive interference (PI)” and if it is after it is called “Retroactive interference (RI)”

There are 3 different ways measures which demonstrate how much material is retained. It is recall, retention and relearning. All these are basic ways, how our brain retrieves the memory of a particular event and shares.

6.1. Types of memories – Explicit & Implicit (Declarative and non-declarative) Episodic and Semantic with field data

Primarily memory has been divided into two. One is explicit (also known as Declarative) and Implicit (also known as non-declarative)

 

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The type of memory that most closely matches the “store/retrieve” metaphor is “declarative memory”. There are two types of declarative memory: knowledge for facts and episodic memory (memory for past events). Another kind of memory is “procedural memory”, which is the learning of skills. The division of memory into implicit and explicit has been promoted by examining dissociation among tasks. Dissociation occurs when one variable (such as time) has a different effect on two different memory tasks.

Blaxton (1989) conducted few experiments that directly contrasted the predictions of an account based on a transfer-appropriate processing theory with a system account. It’s important to note that the structuralists & the processing frameworks make opposite predictions.  They discovered that two explicit tasks will differ from the two implicit tasks(regardless of the type of processing) whereas as the transfer appropriate processing account predicts that the two data driven tasks will differ from the two conceptually driven tasks ( regardless of the type of conceptual of conscious knowledge needed to perform the tasks.)

In general, the brain does not store new memories by a centrally controlled process, the way one might file something away in a file cabinet. Memory is a decentralized, distributed process in the brain. All parts of the brain are adapting to new information all the time. The main criteria the neural circuits use to decide when to alter them to accommodate new information is repetition. The more frequently two or more unusual pieces of information co-occur, the more the brain decides they must be important and prioritize them for associative retention by altering neural circuits. The brain does not really store “information” but rather adapts to statistical relationships among signals.
Another criterion by which the brain selects memory for storage is perceived value. If something unexpected happens, the brain records everything that led up to it. This process is mediated by the neurotransmitter dopamine, and is one of the reasons why dopamine-related drugs (cocaine, amphetamine) are addictive. This neurotransmitter controls the brains rewards and pleasure centres.

There is one region of the brain that is specialized for the formation of new declarative memories, and that is the hippocampus. Hippocampus is responsible for forming new memories and also helping in retrieving it at the time of recall. Several researches have been done on hippocampus’s role and function. There were experiments where a person’s hippocampus was removed and then doctors, discovered that he remembers everything of the past, but can’t form new memories.   This led to the realization that the hippocampus is specialized for the formation of new memories.

One current theory is that memories are coded temporarily by the hippocampus throughout the day, and then at night while we sleep (or dream?), the memories are transferred to the rest of the brain via a process called memory consolidation. The specifics of how this might work are still being investigated. Most recall occurs by association. An event or situation that is somehow similar to a memory from the past, or a piece of knowledge, causes that memory or knowledge to spontaneously re-enter consciousness. The spontaneous retrieval of memory by association is closer to a process of “reconstruction” than retrieval. Clues about a past mental state are activated until something coherent emerges. That coherent “recreated” brain state may or may not be an accurate reproduction of the past, as the high error rate of eye-witness testimony shows. The exact way that knowledge and episodic memories are coded and accessed is still the subject of on-going research.

 

6.1. a. Episodic and Semantic memory:

 

Episodic memory and semantic memory differ primarily in whether the rememberer is aware of the original learning episode.  Sharing a real example from the village of Kadala in Garhi-

E.g.: When I asked Saraswatiji (one of the lady in the village of Kadala where I was staying at her relative’s place) which was the crop that you harvested in the last summers? Being aware of the encoding episode suggests that the information is in the episodic memory. And she responded to me saying, “Rice” and then detailed out the entire process how did she and her family harvested together and how long did it take and so on.

Now in contrast, if she would have been an expert in farming and does lots of things related to agriculture and she “Knows” that they did harvest some crop but is unaware of the episode during which she acquired this information. In this case the information is in semantic (generic)

One way of examining the relative contributions of episodic and semantic memory is through a procedure called the remember/know paradigm.

(Source- Gardiner in 1988 and Tulving in 1985b)

In this procedure subjects are asked to give a “remember” response to all those items for which they can explicitly bring to mind the episode in which the item was learned. There must be conscious awareness of the specific learning episode in this case. However, if the subject thinks the item was on the list but can’t consciously recall learning that particular item in the learning phase, they are instructed to give a “Know” response.

 

Autobiographical memories are another set of memories that I found prominently active in this community. These are our recollections of circumstances and episodes from our own lives. Autobiographical memories encompass the episodic memories we hold about ourselves (Rubin, 1999; Sutin & Robins, 2007).

For example, we tend to forget information about our past that is incompatible with the way in which we currently see ourselves. One study found that adults who were well adjusted but who had been treated for emotional problems during the early years of their lives tended to forget important but troubling childhood events, such as being in foster care. College students misremember their bad grades—but remember their good ones (see Figure 5; Walker, Skowronski, & Thompson, 2003; Kemps & Tiggemann, 2007). Similarly, when a group of 48-year-olds were asked to recall how they had responded on a questionnaire they had completed when they were high school freshman, their accuracy was no better than chance. For example, although 61% of the questionnaire respondents said that playing sports and other physical activities was their favorite pastime, only 23% of the adults recalled it accurately (Offer et al., 2000).

It is not just certain kinds of events that are distorted; particular periods of life are remembered more easily than others. For example, when people reach late adulthood, they remember periods of life in which they experienced major transitions, such as attending college and working at their first job, better than they remember their middle-age years. Similarly, although most adults’ earliest memories of their own lives are of events that occurred when they were toddlers, toddlers show evidence of recall of events that occurred when they were as young as 6 months old (Simcock & Hayne, 2002; Wang, 2003; Cordnoldi, De Beni, & Helstrup, 2007).

Travellers who have visited areas of the world in which there is no written language often have returned with tales of people with phenomenal memories. For instance, storytellers in some preliterate cultures can recount long chronicles that recall the names and activities of people over many generations. Those feats led experts to argue initially that people in preliterate societies develop a different, and perhaps better, type of memory than do those in cultures that employ a written language. They suggested that in a society that lacks writing, people are motivated to recall information with accuracy, especially information relating to tribal histories and traditions that would be lost if they were not passed down orally from one generation to another (Daftary & Meri, 2002; Berntsen & Rubin, 2004).

 

The different stories and events that I could trace and classify into these 3 categories are below.

Episodic Memory (Declarative) Semantic Memory (Declarative) Procedural memory

(Non declarative) habits and skills

1. Agricultural practises and the crops they cultivate and harvest.

 

2. Marriage of their sons and daughters. What customs are followed in son’s marriage and how are they different from the daughter’s wedding?

 

3. Foraging routes and what all needs to be collected from the forest when they start their tasks.

 

4. The traditional folklores, songs, phrases and stories.

 

5. The lineage system and in their kinship who shares what relationship with whom.

 

6. They have a synchronic approach and often use an episodical memory for the different situations. For e.g.- They don’t remember their birth age and then will say, when I was small and when I was of my son’s current age and so on. There language reflects this during the conversations. E.g.- The last night for them is today’s night according to their TIME FUNCTION.  “Aaj raat sapna aaya tha…!!”

 

7. Episodical – In the earlier days, information source was only Radio and so everyone used to listen to radio, without failure. And people used to tell each other, if they come to know about something.  Now things have signicantly changed and people have different ways of information. Today TV, mobile, gram Panchayats all these serves as a major source of information channels to gain new information about agricultural seeds, new practices in farming, health care, mothers and child care information.

 

8.      Interview with a grandmother- 108 – Janani Express is accessible and everyone calls there and avails the facility. There are 4-5 Dais in the village who support the families in case of emergency if needed

1. Some traditional old stories :

 

Rains-Onset of monsoons -How do they predict?  Gadala plant (looks like an onion plants) in the forests, it gives flowers that blooms thrice in 3 months. The blooming of the flower in the 3rd month is the sign that now rain is going to start. This flower is a direct indicator for the onset of monsoons.                                                                                                                    2. Wind-  In the month of late  Jeth (Jeshtha) and early Ashaad, if the winds start blowing from the east direction in a continuous manner, one can make out that rains are going to come in next couple of hours.                                               3. Dumar fruit’s shape- According to the past stories, this fruit was round in shape and then once upon a time, a rat came and tried to taste it, and because the rat has tasted it, the shape of the fruit got distorted permanently and now its not round and looks like the mouth of the rat.  And all the animals, birds and humans eat it.

 

4. Interview from one of the villager: These people migrated almost 5 generations before and according to them this village is around 150 years old.                                                    These people don’t speak Gondi, but speak “Raigarhi” which is close to Hindi in some ways. They call is as their DEHATI language.

5. Interview with a grandmother earlier till 2000, the delivery was done in the villages only at homes. “Dai” was the lady who used to do it with the help of other women in the family.  Now a days, deliveries are done in the hospital. In emergency cases, they usually take the woman immediately to hospital to avoid complications.

1. Going to the forest and getting timber.

2. The villagers habit of urinating and defecating in the open.  They prefer to go out for urination and defecation. Usually they try to defecate near the forest areas, few meters away from their place of residence. For urination, they don’t have any criteria. They urinate in open, in their own farms nearby.

 

3. Most of the families consume “Mahua Liquor” Both males and females, drink them before the dinner. But now a days few families, they prefer not drinking.                                          Apart from Mahua Liquor, they also consumer their traditional drink names “Pej”

 

4. The villagers do believe that the person’s body is dead and he takes rebirth after some years and comes back to life. Because of their belief, they pray the fish (basically the shape) and pray the almight to help the soul take another birth in the same shape, which means the human form. In their culture “SHAPE and FORMS” have more importance.

 

There are instances where you might find that there is a combination or an overlap of semantic and episodic memory. Also there is a skill involved in it due to repeated action of the same over the years, and can be identified into procedural memory tool. An excellent example of that is the traditional ways of treating a person, if he or she breaks his or her bone. The remedy that they use is:

Frature or Bone Injury– Rangul creeper + mix it with Ghee and Honey. Add turmeric and any edible oil to it. Apply it on the injured part. the joint heals and the patient is recovered soon.

Plants of Mirmisi– Along with plant of Raajgonda, Dusa (carbon/Ash) Dried Red pepper, Coriander powder, Cream (Mahi in their local language) and Dahl. Mix all of them and feed the cattle if there is a Digestion problem. This is a very effective treatment, they use for their cattles.                                                                                                                                       In case of humans, if they have digestion problem, these people either take Mathha – made from butter milk. Milk is not readily available, so they have to get it from some other place. Pudina leaves are also used for cooling the body.

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7.1 Relationship of working memory to long term memory and knowledge –

Working memory is not a special repository of information but rather a subset of declarative memory that is distinguished by higher activation cells. So whenever any information is retrieved that specific part is activated and it comes into action.

Memory trace- A prerequisite for any search is a collection of objects through which the search is to be made; in the present instance, the memory trace. A traditional approach defines these traces as a set of images or codes, where the structure of images is a function of the current task being utilized. Thus, if a series of paired associates is presented, the subject is presumed to store in memory a series of images, each representing a particular paired associate item. The memory search could then be said to take place through some subset of these images. The difficulty with this approach is that it is dependent upon the specific task and the type of test being used; it would be preferable to define the search upon a collection of objects that would not have to be altered with changes in the task and type of test.

A small example of the same is give below:

Organization of Long term memory into search-sets and image

Human brains are estimated to have a staggering 86 billion neurons with multiple connections from each cell webbing in every possible direction, forming the vast cellular network that somehow makes us capable of thought and consciousness.  With such huge number of connections to work with, it’s no wonder we still don’t have a thorough understanding of how the brain’s neural network operates. But the new mathematical framework built by the team of neuroscientists takes us one step closer to one day having a digital brain model. They found that groups of neurons connect into “Cliques” and that the number of neurons in a clique would lead to its size as a high- dimensional geometric object.

Algebraic topology, a branch of mathematics used to describe the properties of objects and spaces regardless of how they change shapes. This is very important for us to understand and build more insight as foraging behaviour deeply engages with objects in the form of forest produce and spaces in from of the mental maps that they have of the different foraging route imprinted within their brains.

Algebraic topology provides mathematical tools for discerning details of the neural network both in a close up view at the level of individual neurons and a grander scale of the brain structure as a whole.  By connecting these 2 levels, the researchers could discern high-dimensional geometric structures in the brain, formed by collections of tightly connected neurons (cliques) and the empty spaces (also called cavities) between them.  (Source- Kathryn Hess, Frontiers of Computational Neuroscience )

It has been found through researches and various studies that there are remarkably high number and variety of high- dimensional directed cliques and cavities, which had not been seen before in neural networks, either biological or artificial.  Through the algebraic typology one can zoom into the networks to find hidden structures, the trees in the forest and see the empty spaces, the clearings, all at the same time.  Those cavities/clearings seem to be critically important for brain function. When researchers gave their virtual brain tissue a stimulus, they saw that neurons were reacting to it in a highly organised manner.

This also helps us relate to the fact, that foraging activity and the various challenges (any new stimulus) that the villagers encounter within the forest during foraging.  The brain reacts to a stimulus and then starts building a block in the form of a tower. These processes continue and these blocks keep on piling within the brain like geometric structures.  Few examples from the village Kadala, where I conducted my Research study are given below:

Challenges Tasks
1. Walking for hours together in the forest, collecting timber and other forest produce.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Cutting the timber and other branches of the trees like mahul and others.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Animals in the wild like big cats, sloth bears and swamp deer.

 

1. They usually prefer early mornings or late afternoon timings to go in the forest.                                                         2. They go in groups of 5-6 or 4-5 people at a time. Nobody goes alone because of the risks that have to face.                                                                             3. They follow a filing system in which they walk one behind the other in a way that one cannot see any other person, apart from the person who is in the front. This discipline helps them to run and make fast decision if they encounter any wild animal.                                                 4. The group has some major landmarks within the forest, where they depart from the group and start collecting timber and other stuff as an individual. They again meet at another common point and then start organizing their forest produce in a way that they would be able to carry it over their heads.

 

 

 

1. They don’t use any tool like hammer and axe. Earlier they used to keep all these tools inside the forest but now, because of strict forest laws, all this is strictly prohibited. So, they use their hands for cutting, tying, folding and for other functions.

2. Their motor skills are quite advanced and one can see it clearly when they start organizing their forest produce in one big load. They also climb the trees if needed. They exactly know which tree to climb and for what?

 

1.  They remain alert while taking every step and they know from the smell and sounds if there is some wild animal in the vicinity. They also take their children along to have some more safety and a supporting hand.

 

Summary:

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My Research study and observation showed that the people of Kadala have a good episodic memory and that have a good mix of semantic and procedural memory. The way information is passed on from one generation to other, is by and large oral whether it’s the different family rituals, birth of a new born baby, death rituals, daily work chores and their detailing, songs and folklores, historical facts, ancient beliefs and myths, superstitions related to horoscopes and so on. The written culture is not so popular but there is a 20-25% population (roughly) who understands the value of education and also writing things facts and figures. It was interesting for to understand that written knowledge for them was important to understand the legal records related to farming and different government schemes.

From the foraging data, it also shows that Baiga’s who go quite deep within the forests and spends more time in the foraging act than the Gonds; tend to have more complex mental maps of the forest. It will be interesting to see, if this knowledge is replicated in their children too, when they join their parents during foraging. It’s also quite evident from the study that for Gonds foraging is an activity that take care of their daily needs of timber, food and daily items like brush and broom, whereas for Baiga’s is a way to meet their  livelihood needs.  Both the tribals (Gonds as well as Baigas) own good agricultural land, but in Kadala Gonds men and women both do farming and work hard whereas in Baiga’s (who are around 10% of the total population) only women put in more efforts. Men drink mahua and half of the time during the day, they are sleeping. Baiga women are extremely hard working and have to manage work, family and daily chores all at different levels whereas for Gond women they get support from their men.

Memory traces also have given some insights that Gonds and Baigas in this community have good explicit (declarative)   memory but an excellent implicit memory. This also indicates that habit formation and skill building takes place at a very early age due to which they have a strong ability to exhibit it and so they are excellent with their implicit memory.  For explicit memory, one has to recall the evidences often in order to retain them, and very few can do it in an efficient manner. Also for explicit memory, if you don’t know you can always go and take help from your relatives and nearby family members.

Bibliography:

1.http://www.dana.org/News/Where_in_the_Brain_is_Long-Term_Memory_

2.https://bcs.mit.edu/research/cognitive-science

  1. Review- St. Augustine’s Reflections on Memory and Time and the Current Concept of Subjective Time in Mental Time Travel
  2. Dahene,S.(2009) Reading in the brain: The science and evolution of a human invention. New York

5.http://projecttiger.nic.in/WriteReadData/userfiles/file/Notification-Area/Core/MP.pdf

  1. Laird S. Cermak- Human Memory –Research and Theory
  2. Models of human memory- Donald A. Norman
  3. Akira Miyake and Priti Shah- Models of working memory- Mechanisms of Active Maintenance and Executive Control
  4. David E.Kieras, David E.Meyer, Shane Mueller and Travis Seymour- Insights into the working memory from the perspective of the EPIC Architecture for motor and cognitive human performances
  5. K.Anders Ericsson and Peter F.Delanley- Long term memory and working memory-
  6. Awh, E. & Jonides (1998) Spatial selective attention and spatial working memory.
  7. R.Parasuraman (Ed.) The alternative brain, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press
  8. Principles of Memory- Aimee M. Suprenant and Ian Neath, NY Press
  9. Brain organization and Learning
  10. D.Miller-Pearson -Cultural Anthropology
  11. Susan A.Greenfield The Human Brain
  12. Neuropsychological Research-Peter-Marien-Jubin
  13. Memory systems, process and functions –Foster &Jonathan Kn
  14. Atkinson, R.C. and Shiffrin, R.M. Human memory- a proposed system and its control processes, Stanford University, 1967
  15. Peterson, M.F. The retention of first stage pairs in a mediation and a control paradigm
  16. https://futurism.com/scientists-discover-that-our-brains-can-process-the-world-in-11-dimensions/

 

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Creative Assembly in “Girirajpura School”

Morning Assembly at Girirajpura School:

We all remember during our school days and how we used to start our day with an assembly. There used to me a prayer song, followed by some news bulletin, current affairs and some exercises. It was quite amazing to see and visit Girirajpura School, which is almost 40 kms  away from the main SawaiMadhopur city where, each child shared his or her input and then co create an assembly session. They sing, dance, talk and discuss about issues related to their school,community and classroom, cleanliness and hygiene related matters and so on. All this becomes a part of the Assembly and this platform, is something which is an important part of the school’s every day rituals.

 

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Children sharing their folklores during the assembly time.

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Completely in the musical mode, singing as well as playing the instrument with full delightment. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?  v=ARv7ScxQTTM&nohtml5=False

Encounter with “DHOLE” (Wild dogs)

 

 

 

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A young  confident and bold “Dhole” on his way leading the group.

I have been travelling to these forest and tiger reserves from almost a year and a half. And though I don’t go in the core so often, there is this unsaid anxiousness to just keep your fingers crossed and imagine some wild animal approaching you. It all about the crazy imagination of a person, who is fond of nature and its diversity. And so this time, during my visit to Tadoba Tiger Reserve, I encountered a pack of 7 wild dogs. I had always heard that wild dogs are always in groups and they are more dangerous than Big Wild cats at times. I was furious to see them, but then somehow came out of my vehicle and captured.

It was around 7.30 am in the morning and I was going through the Tadoba’ s  buffer zone (forests) along with my driver and the coordinator where I saw a pack of wild dogs sitting on the side of the road. They all were quite in their own play way mood. Wild dog is a highly social animal, living in large clans and containing multiple breeding females. It is a diurnal pack hunter which preferentially targets medium and large sized ungulates. In tropical forests, the dhole competes with tigers and leopards targeting somewhat different prey species, but still with substantial dietary overlap.

It was a quite an interesting morning to start the day with work. We moved to the NFE, taking the amazing memories of the Wild dogs with us.

“Glimpses of tribal youths in Action towards the cause of Education”

“Community Leaders” creating an impact through Non Formal Teaching in the villages of the tribal areas around the buffer zones of TATR. (Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve)

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Children’s creativity-Ashta_Tadoba_Andhari Tiger Reserve
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Children’s creativity-Ashta_Tadoba_Andhari Tiger Reserve
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Children’s creativity-Ashta_Tadoba_Andhari Tiger Reserve
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Children’s creativity-Ashta_Tadoba_Andhari Tiger Reserve
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NFE teachers supporting the Education of the tribal students in Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve
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NFE teachers supporting the Education of the tribal students in Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve
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NFE teachers supporting the Education of the tribal students in Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve

MY “FIRST ENCOUNTER WITH A WILD TUSK”

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“Wild” is beautiful,adventurous and yet so enriching with great learnings..!!

It was last year (May-2015) during the heavy monsoons that I visited Mudumulai Tiger Reserve somewhere around early September for a workshop on Integrated Learning for the local NGO team members. It was around 7p.m. that I crossed the Masinagudi and was travelling to Gudalur. It was raining like cats and dogs. I was also feeling a bit cold and it was quite windy.

The driver had to maintain really slow speed since we were travelling in the midst of a forest. It was about to get dark in next 20 minutes or so, and I was just crossing my fingers that we reach to the place, soon.

Suddenly, the organization person who had come to receive me from Gundlupete, told the driver to stop the car and to my surprise there was this “huge tusk (Male Elephant)”about to cross the road. I was just startled at the first sight..!!For me, looking at this WILD ELEPHANT IN THE WOODS was absolutely amazing.This was first of its kind and so was feeling speechless. It was looking at us and we kept our vehicle really slow, so that we can see him for a longer period.

I was about to take out my camera, but the driver, cautioned us and said NO. The Elephant was moving his right leg which was an indication that he was about to run towards us. He was may be angry. Also there was a vehicle ahead of us, who had taken lot of pics and the flash light had made the elephant irritated.

I had no other option, but to capture this moment in my mobile phone. And here it is.But personally it feels very good to see wildlife pictures, but yes, it’s one of the most difficult things at times, since you are in the home of the animals. At the end would just like to say, “Adventurous yet so memorable.”Tusk

Exquisite local Art and its future: A Question to reflect….!!

Art work done by ANKUSH.

Art work done by ANKUSH.

As a person I was not a big time “Art- lover” though I appreciated Art, culture and crafts alot. During my childhood, I travelled to enormous places within India and visited to places that are the masterpiece of some really old arts,crafts and culture. India is a nation where you will see limitless traditional art and crafts whether you go from north to South or from East to west. Rajasthan is famous for its royal heritage and craft work, Gujarat for its textile production and handicrafts, Assam for its beautiful silk work, textile work and Manjaa ( woven mat) and South India for its temples- Dravidian style influence and crafts and textile industry.

When I think about Art its not only limited to a small paining or a hand made piece of craft. For me its spread over is limitless and endless. There is so much more that we can add in it through our creativity and aesthetic ability. Even when we speak, read,write,dance,sing or play or do other things, there is a natural element of art within all this. When I was small I used to spend my time looking at the potterer making clay pots. The beauty in their hands was something I used to envy but then I used to think when I will grow up then only I can do it. (Though it never happened..!!)

The reason what made me write this blog for myself and others,comes from my own need to connect with art and culture more. From last few months I had been thinking about it, reading articles about the same and was talking to some of my friends. What moved me more was that India has one of the best art forms available globally, but then how can we really make sure that every artist and craftsmen in our nation is earning sufficiently. And if they were earning well, then we would not had seen some of the basic art forms vanishing from our very culture.

The National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) includes education of traditional crafts in their course curriculum to maintain this culture. Despite these efforts, the roots of these crafts, which are the rural craftsmen, are in decline. Rising costs of materials and supplies have placed many of these craft communities in financial struggle. A recent article in the Times of India predicts the price of steel to rise between Rs 600 and 1000 per tonne.On the other hand, statistics from the All India Handicrafts Board show that craft export has risen from 23 crores to over 9000 crores since the past 50 years.With rising economic and political issues in India, the craft sector is struggling to uphold. Although an interest to retain the culture of crafts is seen in designers and institutions. There are many non-for profits that are coming up to help them, but there are handful in numbers.

I recently made a short trip through the Wildlife Conservation Trust to Ramtek (Nagpur)  where I got the chance to visit some schools in the buffer zone of the Pench Tiger Reserve. The sarpanch of the Lodha school was quite an active man,whom I met there. He shared with me about the government school and last years’s floods and the disaster it did to that village and also some of the neighboring villages.

There I was surprised to see the art work done by students in minutes with the help of the leaves (Type of Bamboo)  that are of no use and are found in that particular idea surrounding that territory.

Here is the actual story and the person who inspired me to write this: Ankush Madavi is now an alumnus of Lodha Upper Primary school, studying this year onwards in Nagsen high school, Nagpur. However, 3 year a ago his life was on a different path altogether. Ankush lived in Sitapar village that falls under the Bhandara zilla. Both his parents had died when he was eight but he continued living with his relatives in Sitapar. He quit his studies and used to spend his time loitering about in the village and doing small chores for his relatives. Ankush once decided to live with his sister in Lodha for a few days. It was then that Anil Rathod spotted Ankush sauntering about aimlessly. Rathod is the Head Teacher of Lodha Upper Primary school and lives in the village itself. He believes in community development and always helps the villagers in their time of need. He visits the homes of the students studying in his school regularly and has put many efforts in strengthening the School Management Committee in his school. Rathod asked Ankush to join his school instead of wasting his time. Ankush reluctantly agreed to attend school after Mr. Rathod asked him a few times. Rathod noticed that it was difficult for Ankush to stay in school as he was the least interested in the curriculum that was being taught. Rathod then started to encourage him to pursue extra-curricular activities like sports and began using his skills. Ankush then started taking an interest in school and this new found interest reflected in his grades. He became a regular student and got a lot of attention and appreciation for his skills in sports and handicrafts. He studied under the watchful eye of Rathod for three years in Lodha before moving to Nagsen to continue his education. He still visits Rathod and helps with the school if required as his way of giving back.

Rathod’s belief in Ankush and other students make it possible for him to retain them in the school and succeed. His generous efforts and his confidence in the potential of the students have helped him instill in his students a certitude in their own ability and skill. The manner in which the students are empowered at Lodha to manage cultural events, library records, assembly as well as academics is unparalled in the neighbouring areas and almost all of the credit for this accomplishment has to go to Anil Rathod.

Interaction with Ankush on how he start this.

Interaction with Ankush on how he start this.

P.S. Its a SINCERE REQUEST to all of you who so ever reads it,if you think that you would like to be a part of the change and help Ankush, please connect with me. We all can help him with education and livelihood options.

“Enticing and dazzling Pench and its periphery….”

I got up at 4a.m. in the morning. Did my yoga and then was quietly waiting for the vehicle to come and pick us up. Finally the vehicle came up at 5.45a.m. when we were having a morning walk. This was my first time going to a Tiger reserve in the core. The idea of SAFARIS really make people happy but for me it was more to understand what are the issues in this tiger reserve and how we can resolve some of them through EDUCATION as the tool?

Lush Green Pench Forest.  Its the first monsoon of the year 2014.

Lush Green Pench Forest. Its the first monsoon of the year 2014.

The Pench Tiger Reserve is a 292.85 km² Project Tiger tiger reserve located in the Seoni District and Chhindwara District of southern Madhya Pradesh. This reserve is lush green, full of ]Teak  forest stretching from one part of Maharashtra to other part of M.P. The river Pench flows through it and divides the reserve into 2 different parts. Almost 3/4th of this forest falls under the Madhya Pradesh state and 1/4th falls under Maharashtra.Interestingly,  this Tiger Reserve is divided into 3 forst range: Karmajhiri, Gumtara, and Kurai. During my  4 hours in this dense forest, I could sight some Gaurs, sambhars, Spotted Deers in huge no’s (around 80-100 in a group),peacocks, monkeys,wild pigs, wild cocks, kingfisher,hornbills and a wide range of butterfly species. I could not sight any tiger since the rainy season has already started. It was an enriching experience for me to explore this forest during monsoons.

he Gaur, also called as Indian bison, is the largest extant bovine and is native to South Asia and Southeast Asia.The gaur is the tallest species of wild cattle.

he Gaur, also called as Indian bison, is the largest extant bovine and is native to South Asia and Southeast Asia.The gaur is the tallest species of wild cattle.

he Gaur, also called as Indian bison, is the largest extant bovine and is native to South Asia and Southeast Asia.The gaur is the tallest species of wild cattle.

he Gaur, also called as Indian bison, is the largest extant bovine and is native to South Asia and Southeast Asia.The gaur is the tallest species of wild cattle.

                    Then I had some interesting discussions with the people from the communities who were staying near this   forest,   in  the buffer areas. I personally visited villages  which were a part of the buffer zones,  like Pipariya, Amazari, lodha,Pindkapar,Sitapur,Dahoda,Mansar, Salai and Devlapar and Pawni of Maharashtra and villages like Turia, Ambazari,Jeerewada,Awargani,Kurai and Khoka of Madhya Pradesh. It was indeed a very enriching and inspiring expeirence for me to understand conservation from a 360 degree approach. While I  interacted with so many villagers and students of the school,everyone said only one thing that they want development.

 

School Chale hum..!! Enjoying the monsoons and this doesn't stop the students from coming to schools. Excellent Attendance.

School Chale hum..!! Enjoying the monsoons and this doesn’t stop the students from coming to schools. Excellent Attendance.

Bumps in Thumbs Out..:)

Bumps in Thumbs Out..:)

 

Today these people are dependent on forests because there is no other means of livelihood and their survival is at stake.  Since their kids grow up attaining poor government education and hence can’t really go out in search of jobs outside. People in these forest still poach and hunt tigers, and carry the illegal affairs world wide and eat wild pigs by hunting.

Forests causes rains and water is required by all of us not only by the people who stay around the forests. So its our responsibility to make sure that these forests are well protected. For this we need to education the students and schools and communities how can we conserve our forests and why its important to preserve them? We also need to support the youths by providing them different jobs or by imparting skills  that will help them earn good money for their families. We need to make sure that the forest guards and officers are motivated enough and have the right equipment in place because if they are not safe,how will they keep the forests secure? We need to make sure that health facilities are available to people since many times man-animal conflicts results in serious injuries.

 

Core of the Pench Tiger Reserve

Core of the Pench Tiger Reserve

When I speak about “WE”,its everyone of us.Each citizen of this country. lets see how each one of us,can contribute in our own ways ( concrete ways) to preserve and conserve our “FORESTS AND WILDLIFE.

Courtesy:

Anish Andheria

Mr.Bobade