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What Part Of The Brain Stores Memory

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The Neuroscience Of Memory Recall

Your Brain is You: Learning and Memory (Part 5 of 6)

So, how do you fine-tune and upgrade that mental Ethernet connection to have a stronger memory recall? By building strong neural pathways.

Basically, to have a powerful memory recall means to have strong synaptic connections the better your cells are able to communicate with each other, the more quickly and accurately you will be able to access memories. You can strengthen these synaptic connections by sending the signal more frequently and having the neurons communicate more often. This paves a strong and clear neural pathway its like when a hiking path is more traveled, its easier to walk along.

The brain works this way because it is neuroplastic, meaning that it is constantly changing shape and form to suit your present needs. For instance, do you really need to remember all of the kids names you went to elementary school with? Since you dont, your brain works in this handy use it or lose it fashion. Thanks to this process of neuroplasticity, your brain is able to constantly take in new information and sharply perform the needs of now.

What Is The Memory Capacity Of A Human Brain

The human brains memory capacity in the average adult can store trillions of bytes of information. In a;Stanford Study, it was reported that;the cerebral cortex alone has 125 trillion synapses. In another study, it was reported that 1 synapse can store 4.7 bits of information. Neurons are the cells which processes and transmits messages within the brain, and synapses are the bridges between neurons which carry the transmitted messages.; Running the numbers ;125 trillion synapses 4.7 bits/synapse, and about 1 trillion bytes equaling 1 TB .

This storage capacity is an amount over 74 Terabytes

If you have a fairly new computer, tablet, or smartphone, you understand the phrase megabytes and gigabytes, this knowledge might help put your brains immense information storage capacity into perspective.

Early-generation personal computers had at best a few megabytes of hard-drive information storage capability. Thats a few million pieces of digital memory seemingly a lot at the time, but small by todays standards.

For instance, it is not uncommon for todays smart phones to have gigabytes of memory capacity or more.

By comparison, the IRSs own massive data warehouse, which keeps track of 300-plus million Americans and many more million businesses, has the capacity of 150 terabytes of memory. Yet Yahoos 2.0 petabyte computational center, which can process 24 billion events a day, is a full 20 percent smaller than the capacity of a single human brain.

Where Does The Brain Store Long

An internal filing system sorts events for short- or long-term use;

When the now-famous neurological patient Henry Molaison had his brains hippocampus surgically sectioned to treat seizures in 1953, sciences understanding of memory inadvertently received perhaps its biggest boost ever. Molaison lost the ability to form new memories of events, and his recollection of anything that had happened during the preceding year was severely impaired. Other types of memory such as learning physical skills were unaffected, suggesting the hippocampus specifically handles the recall of eventsknown as episodic memories.

Further research on other patients with hippocampal damage confirmed recent memories are more impaired than distant ones. It appears the hippocampus provides temporary storage for new information whereas other areas may handle long-term memory. Events that we are later able to remember appear to be channeled for more permanent storage in the cortex . In the cortex these memories form gradually, becoming integrated with related information to build lasting knowledge about ourselves and the world.

Episodic memories that are intended for long-term storage accumulate to form the autobiographical memory that is so essential for our sense of identity. Neuroscientists know a lot about how short-term memories are formed in the brain but the processes underlying long-term storage are still not well understood.

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Right Brain Left Brain

The cerebrum is divided into two halves: the right and left hemispheres They are joined by a bundle of fibers called the corpus callosum that transmits messages from one side to the other. Each hemisphere controls the opposite side of the body. If a stroke occurs on the right side of the brain, your left arm or leg may be weak or paralyzed.

Not all functions of the hemispheres are shared. In general, the left hemisphere controls speech, comprehension, arithmetic, and writing. The right hemisphere controls creativity, spatial ability, artistic, and musical skills. The left hemisphere is dominant in hand use and language in about 92% of people.

The Hippocampus And Long


A short-term memory can be consolidated into an enduring long-term memory. This involves a system of brain structures within the medial temporal lobe that are essential for forming declarative memories. The hippocampus is a key region in the medial temporal lobe, and processing information through the hippocampus is necessary for the short-term memory to be encoded into a long-term memory.

The long-term memory does not remain stored permanently in the hippocampus. These long-term memories are important and having them stored in only one brain location is risky damage to that area would result in the loss of all of our memories.

Instead, it is proposed that long-term memories become integrated into the cerebral cortex . This process is referred to as cortical integration; it protects the information stored in the brain.

However, damage to areas of the brain, particularly the hippocampus, results in loss of declarative memories, which is known as amnesia.

The famous case study of H.M. – Henry Molaison – demonstrated the hippocampus is vital to the formation of long-term memories. H.M. had his hippocampus removed as a 23-year-old in an attempt to treat epileptic seizures that originated in his medial temporal lobe.

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Emotions And False Memories

; ;A;flashbulb memory;is a highly detailed, exceptionally vivid episodic memory of the circumstances surrounding a piece of surprising, consequential, or emotionally arousing news was heard. However, even flashbulb memories can have decreased accuracy with the passage of time, even with very important events. For example, on at least three occasions, when asked how he heard about the terrorist attacks of 9/11, President George W. Bush responded inaccurately. In January 2002, less than 4 months after the attacks, the then sitting President Bush was asked how he heard about the attacks. He responded:

I was sitting there, and my Chief of Staffwell, first of all, when we walked into the classroom, I had seen this plane fly into the first building. There was a TV set on. And you know, I thought it was pilot error and I was amazed that anybody could make such a terrible mistake.

Contrary to what President Bush recalled, no one saw the first plane hit, except people on the ground near the twin towers. The first plane was not videotaped because it was a normal Tuesday morning in New York City, until the first plane hit.

How Does Memory Work

Before we begin delving into the neural geography of memory, it is important to fully answer the question, how does memory work?

While we generally use the analogy of accessing memories by sorting through a type of mental filing cabinet, the actual mechanics of memory are far more dynamic. A better analogy would be plugging your mind into a sort of mental Ethernet cable and the strength of the network connection is based on how the event was uploaded into the brain.

Hmm, sounds like some pretty tricky stuff, right? Well, lets dive in.

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What Kind Of Computer Is This

The types of mental representation discussed above, such as the continuous monitoring of the spatial surround by the parietal lobes, illustrate a vital point that is often overlooked when comparisons are made between the human brain and the computer. The fact is that the human brainor the brain of many other animalsis solving quite difficult computational problems at every moment, just in seeing, recognizing a voice, or moving in a coordinated fashion on four limbs, or two limbs, or two wings. Most of these problems are so complex that they have yet to be formulated in explicit terms by computer scientists, which is why machines that can perceive and move and communicate as animals doand perform all these functions at onceare still largely the stuff of science fiction.

Of course, organization is crucial to managing such a vast resource, and the brain exhibits this feature at several levels, as discussed throughout this book. Research conducted on the simpler nervous system of invertebrates, as well as on nonhuman primates, other vertebrates, and humans, has indicated how learning brings about structural changes in nerve cells and how the neurons in turn form regions, which take part in networks. The networks are organized into distributed systems, which collaborate with other systems, both sensory and associative, to produce the total working effect.

What Will The Doctor Do

Information Storage and the Brain: Learning and Memory

Any time a person has been hit in the head, it’s important to see a doctor. A doctor will test the person’s ability to recall events, names, or places by asking lots of questions. In the case of a suspected brain injury, a doctor may also want to take a picture of the patient’s brain and skull using something called a CT scan.

If the person has memory loss from a head injury, the doctor will design a treatment plan to help the brain heal and, if necessary, to help the person relearn things that have been forgotten. If the memory problem is due to drug or alcohol use, the person needs to stop abusing these substances before his or her memory will improve.

With strokes, memory can return but it depends on severity and location of the stroke in the brain. With Alzheimer’s, lost memory cannot be restored, but scientists are working on medicines they hope someday will prevent this kind of memory loss.

Most memory problems affect older people, so what can you do for your memory if you’re 8, not 88? In addition to remembering to wear your helmet, use your brain! By doing challenging activities, like reading and doing puzzles, you can exercise your mind so you’ll be remembering great memories for many years to come!

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Stages Of Memory Creation Storage & Recall:

There are three main stages, namely, encoding, storage and recall. You make memories with your senses of touch, taste, smell, sight and hearing. Memories are formed when your brain processes your experiences, whether it be through consciously focusing on something or subconsciously making associations .

Every new experience triggers the creation of new connections in the brain. Meanwhile, it also rewires itself through the process called neuroplasticity.Here follows a brief overview of the three stages involved in memory:

Building Memories Uses Two Parts Of The Brain

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Looking at how the human brain builds memories of what a person has encountered and where that information came from, MIT researchers will report in the Feb. 18 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that distinct parts of the brain build memories for two separate but related aspects of everyday experiences.

The two forms of memory were illustrated in the 2001 film “Memento,” in which the amnesiac main character writes information down in an effort to remember it, but neglects to record the source of the information and is thus susceptible to manipulation. A more common experience is knowing you’ve met someone before but not remembering the person’s name or any other details about the prior encounter.

Understanding how the healthy brain records and recalls memories for everyday experiences could assist in the development of early predictive tests for Alzheimer’s disease, even for individuals with no obvious symptoms. Because Alzheimer’s treatments primarily concentrate on slowing the progression of the disorder, earlier diagnosis could mean a better prognosis.

Wagner and Davachi show for the first time that activity in the human hippocampus, a seahorse-shaped area in the medial temporal part of the brain, plays a particular role in building memory for the context of where and how we learned something, but does not play a role in remembering the thing itself.

Memory Picture

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What Can Go Wrong With Memory

As wonderful as memory is, it isn’t always perfect. It’s normal to occasionally forget the name of somebody you just met or where you put your shoes. And of course, everyone has forgotten an answer on a test. Darn! You knew that one, too!

It’s also typical for people to forget more things as they grow older. Your parents or grandparents might joke about having a “senior moment.” That’s when they forget something.

But some memory problems are serious, such as when a person has Alzheimer’s disease. In this disease, deposits build up and nerve cells stop working leading to memory loss.

Strokes, which also affect older people, are another medical problem that can affect someone’s memory. A stroke is when blood doesn’t get to all the parts of the brain, either because there is a blockage in the pathway or because a blood vessel bursts.

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In Search Of Lost Time


From Prousts intuitions triggered by his Little Madeleines to the latest neuroscientific discoveries, going through the advancements in psychology, we have many pieces that help us recompose the puzzle of our memory at least in part. Might be because it is still careful not to reveal all its mysteries. Moreover, if we ever manage to decipher all the codes, its a safe bet to say that this fabulous machine, which allows us nothing less than to have been, to be and become, will never cease to fascinate us.

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How Does The Brain Store Memory

What is memory anyway? Can it be thought of as a pattern of neuronal activity, tracked down to individual cells making up the brain? Or is it fundamentally inscrutable and forever doomed to remain the topic of philosophical treatises?

Recent scientific advances have made it possible to directly observe, and even to manipulate memories in genetically-modified mice, allowing for the first time to directly address these questions. Yes, mice are very different from us humans, yet also remarkably similar on the level of the basic building blocks of the brain: neurons and their connections, called synapses.

A typical neuron consists of a cell body and its processes, called axons and dendrites. An axon forms the output of a neuron and connects with other cells in the brain to pass on information. Dendrites, on the other hand, can be thought of as the neurons antenna they gather inputs arriving from other neurons axonal projections. The union of a dendrite and an axon is a synapse, the fundamental unit of information processing in the brain.

Memories are thought to arise from the formation and modification of synapses. This has been observed under the microscope in living, breathing mice. Moreover, interfering with synaptogenesis has disastrous consequences for memory and is thought to be the underlying cause of dementias such as Alzheimers Disease.

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Signs Of A Memory Problem

A person might or might not be able to notice signs of his or her own memory problem. If someone has suffered a brain injury, doctors, nurses, and family members will be on the alert for signs of trouble.

Someone who has a memory problem will be unable to remember important things for varying lengths of time. The more severe the illness or injury, the longer the memory loss is likely to last. Some people forget just the moments right before and after an injury, which is not unusual with a concussion. Sometimes, these memories come back.

More significant problems with memory, such as in Alzheimer’s disease, might make it hard to remember what happened days, weeks, months, or even years ago, and it can be difficult to learn and remember new things.

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How Memories Are Formed Stored And Recalled

Since the 1940s scientists have surmised that memories are held within groups of neurons, or nerve cells, called cell assemblies. Those interconnected cells fire as a group in response to a specific stimulus, whether it’s your friend’s face or the smell of freshly baked bread. The more the neurons fire together, the more the cells’ interconnections strengthen. That way, when a future stimulus triggers the cells, it’s more likely that the whole assembly fires. The nerves’ collective activity transcribes what we experience as a memory. Scientists are still working through the details of how it works.

For a short-term memory to become a long-term memory, it must be strengthened for long-term storage, a process called memory consolidation. Consolidation is thought to take place by several processes. One, called long-term potentiation, consists of individual nerves modifying themselves to grow and talk to their neighboring nerves differently. That remodeling alters the nerves’ connections in the long term, which stabilizes the memory. All animals that have long-term memories use this same basic cellular machinery; scientists worked out the details of long-term potentiation . However, not all long-term memories necessarily have to start as short-term memories.

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The Locus Of The Long

Older people use different parts of brain to store memories

Overall, the results described to this point would seem to demonstrate conclusively that the cerebellum is necessary for learning, retention, and expression of classical conditioning of the eyeblink and other discrete responses. The next and more critical issue concerns the locus of the memory traces. Evidence summarized below would seem to demonstrate conclusively that the long-term memory traces for this type of learning are formed and stored in the cerebellum.

We and our associates have developed a new approach to the problem of localizing memory traces in the brain, namely the use of methods of reversible inactivation, together with recording of neuronal activity. Reversible inactivation methods ,per se, have existed for some time and have been used very effectively to produce temporary lesions . What we have done is to apply this method systematically to the major structures and pathways in the cerebellarbrain stem circuit we have identified as the essential circuit for classical conditioning of discrete responses , during performance and during acquisition of the CR .

Inactivation of the magnocellular red nucleus is indicated in Fig.b. Inactivation by low doses of muscimol for 6 days of training or cooling for 5 days completely prevented the expression of the CR. Yet animals showed asymptotic learned performance of the CR from the beginning of postinactivation training .

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