After recently trying this fun language game (link below), which has you guess which language is being spoken from an increasing number of multiple choice options (share your score below!), it reminded me of the varying abilities in people to discern sounds and 'utterances' being spoken. I sometimes actually struggle in my own language if I can't find a pattern in someone's speech for clear understanding (broad Scots etc.) or in rooms that reflect sound waves excessively (swimming pools, halls etc.) but when conditions are right, it does seem relatively straightforward to match audio-patterns in speech in a range of languages and language groups. I find it even easier when there is melody or intonation involved, for whatever reason, leading me to think that there may be memory types, each with their own strengths.
My wife remembers colours, tones and visual patterns extremely well, able to differentiate between slight variations; my brother has a great memory for locations and how they relate to others; my dad can easily plan out three-dimensional spaces of house renovations in his mind's eye; my sister has a hyper-sensitive sense of smell, giving her an excellent long-term and well practiced memory of events in some strange related way; the list goes on. Each of these specialities spark off related memories and ideas in turn that are specific to their own memory strengths.
Why we find some patterns more interesting and thus easier to remember than others is beyond me. It could be guessed that those particular memory strengths and focuses are what have helped to keep each person's descendants alive and well up to this day, in evolutionary terms. Practically this could have been matching the orange and black stripe pattern to danger, smelling various food sources, navigating quickly through a cave system or forest, remembering where the best water sources were or communicating with other groups quickly and efficiently for personal or group gain. Nowadays these skills seem to have morphed into our interests and professions, with people falling into the closest approximation of what their brain does best either for work or pleasure. So whether we be artists, explorers, linguists or customer facing workers we seem to find practical uses for our specific memory and pattern-matching strengths, which in turn makes work bearable, even enjoyable, for the most part. What pattern matching can you do best?