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Where Is Memory Stored In The Brain

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Where Does The Brain Store Long

How do we store memories in the brain?

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.

Figure 807 The Amygdala Is Involved In Fear And Fear Memories The Hippocampus Is Associated With Declarative And Episodic Memory As Well As Recognition Memory The Cerebellum Plays A Role In Processing Procedural Memories Such As How To Play The Piano The Prefrontal Cortex Appears To Be Involved In Remembering Semantic Tasks

Long term memory represents the final stage in the information-processing model where informative knowledge is stored permanently . Memories we have conscious storage and access to are known as explicit memory and are encoded by the hippocampus, the entorhinal cortex, and the perihinal cortex which are important structures in the limbic system. The limbic system represents a set of brain structures located on both sides of the thalamus, immediately beneath the cerebral cortex, and is important for a variety of functions including emotion, motivation, long-term memory, and olfaction.

In contrast to the memory systems covered above related to explicit encoding and retrieval memory processes, implicit memory as discussed in the previous section refers to memories that are acquired and recalled unconsciously. Modern research has suggested that the cerebellum, the basal ganglia , the motor cortex, and various areas of the cerebral cortex are related to the storage and retrieval of implicit memory.

False And Distorted Memories

Memories have to be reconstructed in order to be used, and the piecing-together of details leaves plenty of room for inaccuraciesand even outright falsehoodsto contaminate the record. These errors reflect a memory system that is built to craft a useful account of past experience, not a perfect one.

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Implicit Vs Explicit Memory

If procedural and declarative memories are the what of memory, implicit and explicit memories are the how. Implicit memories are those that we remember unconsciously and are expressed in our behaviour in some way. Most of our procedural memories fall into this category.

Conditioned learning and associative memory are also examples of how implicit memory works. We can see the evidence of these unconscious associations in experiments on priming effects, where exposing someone to a stimulus affects how new information is processed or how tasks are performed. For example, if someone reads a list of words including cooking, food and hot before being asked to complete a four-letter word starting with SO__, they are more likely to say SOUP. Someone primed with words such as bath, clean and bubbles may be more likely to respond with SOAP instead.

Explicit memories, on the other hand, are those that are consciously remembered. Memories can be recalled, where they are spontaneously retrieved from long-term memory storage, such as when you reminisce about your last travel adventure overseas. Recognition, which requires less effort compared to recall, refers to the sense that youve previously encountered or learned something that you are perceiving in a given momentthat feeling you get when something rings a bell.

The Benefits Of An Artificial Brain

Where are memories stored in the brain?

Of course, the brain cannot ever be completely characterized in terms of a computer because in addition to all its computing faculties it possesses the properties of a biological organ in a living system. But, points out Gerald Edelman of the Neurosciences Institute at Rockefeller University, computers can indeed do something that, until recently, only a brain could do: they can carry out logical functions. Today, a computer can address any challenge or problem that can be described in a logical formula. This still leaves unexplored vast areas of human experience, such as perception but as described earlier in this chapter, computer and mathematical modeling on one side, and more detailed neurobiological examination on the other side, are making inroads in this area too.

An important principle of Darwin III’s nervous system is that the strength of the synaptic connections can increase selectively with greater activity when that activity leads to an adaptive end. What is ”adaptive” for Darwin III is defined by arbitrary values built into its programming. For example, the built-in principle that light is “better” than no light serves to direct and refine the system’s eye movements toward a target. Just as in living neurons, the enhanced connection provides a stronger response the next time that particular neural pathway is active.

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The Left And Right Hemispheres

âThe cerebrum is split into two halves , colloquially referred to as the left and right sides of the brain. The left hemisphere controls the right side of the body, whilst the right hemisphere controls the left side of the body. This explains why victims of right-hemisphere strokes experience paralysis or sensory impairment on the left side of the body.

The left hemisphere is credited for logic, analytical, reasoning, language and numerical skills. Conversely, the right hemisphere takes charge of creativity, imagination, intuition and spatial awareness.

As the two sides constantly communicate through the corpus callosum, a collection of nerve fibers between linking the two halves, youâre able to engage both hemispheres simultaneously, necessary for countless cognitive feats and voluntary movements.

Where Is Memory Stored In The Brain

Every day you observe and experience things and go on adding new information in to your master organ. Though you may at times find it difficult to absorb new things, the capacity of your brain never seems to be exhausted. But how and where is memory stored in the brain?

According to Amen the author of Memory rescue: supercharge your brain, reverse memory loss, and remember what matters most, the brains storage capacity is vast. He however adds, It is almost impossible to calculate exactly how many memories and pieces of information the human beings can hold in their brain.

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Basal Ganglia And Motor Memory

The basal ganglia are a group of nuclei which are located in the medial temporal lobe, above the thalamus and connected to the cerebral cortex. Specifically, the basal ganglia includes the subthalamic nucleus, substantia nigra, the globus pallidus, the ventral striatum and the dorsal striatum, which consists of the putamen and the caudate nucleus. The basic functions of these nuclei deal with cognition, learning, and motor control and activities. The basal ganglia are also associated with learning, memory, and unconscious memory processes, such as motor skills and implicit memory. Particularly, one division within the ventral striatum, the nucleus accumbens core, is involved in the consolidation, retrieval and reconsolidation of drug memory.

The caudate nucleus is thought to assist in learning and memory of associations taught during operant conditioning. Specifically, research has shown that this part of the basal ganglia plays a role in acquiring stimulus-response habits, as well as in solving sequence tasks.

What Did We Find

Where Are Memories Stored?

Figure 3A shows that all four groups were performing the same at the beginning of the adaptation condition. The two control groups, RNC and LNC, and the RPD group showed similar adaptation over the session. The RPD groups learning was normal. However, the LPD group did not show adaptationthey did not change the movement of their arms as much as the other three groups.

  • Figure 3 – Shows the errors in the direction of movements when people are first exposed to the motor task.
  • Each cycle represents eight consecutive movements. In cycle 1, when participants were first exposed to the task, participants make a 30° error, and as they practice, the error goes down. Both control groups and the Right Parietal stroke group adapt to the task the same. In contrast, the left Parietal stroke group does not decrease their error through training. Shows the errors that occur when the rotation of the visual feedback is turned off, referred to as after-effects. The three groups that adapted to the rotation show large after effects, while LPD patients do not.

We saw the same pattern in the aftereffects data . Again, it was only the LPD group, not the RPD group that did not show an after effect, which supports the conclusion that the LPD group did not develop a new motor representation during adaptation. And again, the RPD group and the two normal control groups performed normally, showing that they developed new motor representations.

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How Do Memories Become Distorted

Memories may be rendered less accurate based on conditions when they are first formed, such as how much attention is paid during the experience. And the malleability of memories over time means internal and external factors can introduce errors. These may include a persons knowledge and expectations about the world and misleading suggestions by other people about what occurred.

What Are The Stages Of Information Processing

Now that you know even more about the stages of memory and understanding how your brain categorizes things, you can begin to understand the actual process of bringing that information from the hippocampus to the surface of your brain, where you are actively remembering an event.

The first stage of information processing is known as the attending stage, and this is where you are actively participating in the event that you will remember. You are physically experiencing the senses, the events, and everything that is happening. By focusing on the event at hand, you are preparing your brain to create a memory for it, and this begins the first stage of information processing.

While you are participating in the event that is going to be remembered, you move on to the encoding stage. This stage happens while you are experiencing the event, and it can be equated to just taking notes on the event. When you place enough importance on something to pay attention to it, your brain will start encoding it into your memory. If you dont pay attention to an event, your brain will not bother encoding it, even if you are attending the event, which is why teachers put such an emphasis on paying attention in class.

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How Do Memories Work

Most people refer to memory as something that they possess. However, the expression I lost my memory is technically incorrect. Memory doesnt exist in the same way that a part of your body exists. Its not physically present rather, it is a concept that refers to the process of remembering.

At the most basic level, memories are stored as microscopic chemical changes at the connecting points between neurons in the brain.

Three types of neurons are responsible for all information transfer in the nervous system.

  • Sensory Neurons: these detect the stimulus from each of the senses and communicate the information to the interconnecting neurons.
  • Interconnecting Neurons: these transfer information throughout the nervous system and also connect to the motor neurons.
  • Motor Neurons: these connect to the muscle tissue and activate them.
  • Structure of a neuron

    There are certain steps involved when a memory is processed.

    The Cerebellar Cortex And Ltd

    Memory Storage

    Experimentally it has proved extremely difficult to determine the relative roles of the cerebellar cortex and interpositus nucleus in eyeblink conditioning using the lesion method. There is general argument that very large cortical lesions impair learning and memory of the eyeblink CR, but it is difficult to rule out damage to the interpositus nucleus it lies immediately underneath the critical cortical tissue . A recent study made use of the mutant Purkinje cell degeneration mouse strain . In this mutant, Purkinje neurons are normal throughout pre and perinatal development. At about 24 weeks postnatal, the Purkinje neurons in the cerebellar cortex degenerate and disappear . For a period of about two months after this time, other neuronal structures appear relatively normal . Thus, during this period of young adulthood, the animals have a complete functional decortication of the cerebellum.

    Appropriate lesions of the interpositus nucleus in the wild-type control mice completely prevented learning of the conditioned eyeblink response, as with all other mammals studied. So the cerebellum is completely necessary for learning in this species as well. The pcd mice learned very slowly, very poorly, and to a much lower level than wild-type controls, but showed extinction with subsequent training to the CS alone. Thus the cerebellar cortex plays a critically important role in normal learning but some degree of learning is possible without the cerebellar cortex.

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    Statement From Professor David Glanz

    Long-term memory is not stored at the synapse, noted David Glanzman, a senior author of the study, and a UCLA professor of integrative biology and physiology and neurobiology. Thats a radical idea, but thats where the evidence leads. The nervous system appears to be able to regenerate lost synaptic connections. If you can restore the synaptic connections, the memory will come back. It wont be easy, but I believe its possible.

    How Memories Are Stored In The Brain

    While memories are usually described in terms of mental concepts, such as single packages of personal experience or specific facts, they are ultimately reducible to the workings and characteristics of the ever-firing cells of the brain. Scientists have narrowed down regions of the brain that are key to memory and developed an increasingly detailed understanding of the material form of these mental phenomena.

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    What Parts Of The Brain Are Important For Memory

    The hippocampus and other parts of the medial temporal lobe are critical for many forms of memory, though various other parts of the brain play roles as well. These include areas of the more recently evolved cerebral cortex, the outermost layer of the brain, as well as deep-seated structures such as the basal ganglia. The amygdala is important for memory as well, including the integration of emotional responses into memory. The extent to which different brain regions are involved in memory depends on the type of memory.

    Why We Forget Things We Dont Want To Forget

    How the brain makes memories

    We all want to have a sharp memory to remember all the significant information we want to retain. But most of the time, we tend to forget many of our experiences. If I ask you how much information you can still remember as you scroll down this page, theres a high possibility that you forget most of the things you have read.

    Most experts believe that forgetting is a result of inaccuracy in the encoding process. Memories that are incompletely stored will be most likely forgotten. Are forgotten memories lost forever? Well, that may not be the case.

    Some experiences, in your past, for instance, are totally inaccessible for a moment but you may recall them later. Therefore, the memories are still there but the cues that could bring them to the surface of your awareness do not match. As a result, you are unable to retrieve them.

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    Neurotransmitters And The Information System

    In addition to the information-processing circuits arranged in neuronal modules and in columns of incoming nerve tracts, the brain is replete with other systems of input. In the prefrontal cortex, for example, nerve fibers containing the neurotransmitter dopamine are found in especially high concentration, and researchers have wondered for some time what role dopamine might play in prefrontal circuits of information. The evidence gathered on this point over the past few years has begun to make clear the enormous extent to which dopamine shapes not only our physical functioning in the world but also our ability to process new information, to associate ideas effectively, and even to maintain a sense of well-being in balance with realistic perceptions.

    In a test to see whether interference with the D-1 receptors would have any effect on cognitive function, Goldman-Rakic’s research team injected a compound that blocks the D-1 receptor sites in the prefrontal cortex of monkeys trained in the delayed-response test described earlier. About 20 minutes after the injection, the animals showed an impairment of working memory, moving their eyes to the wrong location when the trial included a delay but they responded correctly in a “sensory-guided” version of the task, in which the target light was left on as a guide. The D-1 receptors thus appear to be implicated in the efficiency of working memory.

    Why Cramming Is Useless

    The simple reason why most students who cram dont usually succeed in their academic endeavors is that they dont really understand how does the brain store memory. As a result, they tend to multitask. They multitask because they ran out of time.

    But heres the problem. The brain not only needs a sufficient amount of time to encode and consolidate the information, but it is also incapable of attending multiple tasks. It only causes information overload. So cramming or multitasking is both useless and detrimental to cognitive functioning.

    So if you want to remember most of the information try to study longer. Use your downtime to read your notes and books. This sounds laborious but this is the only way towards academic success.

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