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Memory as a String of Pearls

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Which representational metaphor one chooses serves to exert a powerful influence upon how we conceive of and subsequently think about time. In the human perception of time, one of the most critical faculties is that of memory, since it appears that we remember the past and anticipate the future while simultaneously experiencing the present. We here present a ‘string of pearls’ metaphor which captures the features of episodic memories (both retrospective and prospective) as the pearls on the string. The underlying continuity of lived experience of existence is equated with the thread of the string itself upon which these respective episodic pearls are mounted. The advantages, nuances, and drawbacks of the use of this metaphor to the understanding of time perception are discussed.

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