Research on Memory

Memory Overview

The formation and recall of each memory are influenced by mood, surroundings, and gestalt at the time the memory is formed or retrieved. This is why different people can remember the same event differently.

 Memory also changes as we change over time. New experiences change our attitudes, and thus how and what we remember. Because or daily experiences constantly alter out neuro connections, a memory is a tiny bit different each time we remember it.

Each and every new experience causes the neuronal firing across some synapses to strengthen and others to weaken.

The pattern of change represents the initial memory of the experience. However, the pattern soon disappears unless it is made more permanent by Long Term Potentiation. LTP is the cellular mechanism that causes the synapses to strengthen their connections to one another, coding an event, stimulus or idea as a series of connections. When a stimulus is received LTP blazes a new trail along a series of neurons, making it easier for subsequent messages to fire along the same path. The more the path is refined, the more permanent the message (the new learning) becomes.

As neurons in the chain strengthen their bonds with one another they then begin to recruit neighboring neurons to join the effort. Each time the activity is repeated, the bonds become a little stronger and more neurons become involved, so that eventually an entire network develops that remembers the skill, the word, the episode or the color.

At this stage the subject becomes encoded as memory This memory process is not standardized. Michael Merzenich’s work showed that when there is a reward the pieces of the memory are more strongly bonded. The adding of a reward led to having many more neurons code the memories.

Each time an experience is recalled or repeated the neurons practice their chemical volleys and strengthen their connections. If a fledgling network is not reinforced, the connections will disband.

Once memory connections become firmly bonded they tend to last but over many years they tend to fade and the connections may weaken or disband or die.

Significantly emotional events (911 WTC) triggers a kind of super LTP that recruits neurons from all over the brain cementing the event immediately in memory Researchers call this flashbulb memory as if every single detail of a single moment is captured in a picture.

 All of this research above is supported by modern sleep research Allan Hobson at the MASS Mental Health Care Center studies show that brain wave activity in the hippocampus during dreaming actually rehearses memory patterns It either hardens newer experience into long-term memories or keeps fading memories alive. From the Users Guide to the Brain pgs 191-195 by John Ratey M.D. 2001 Publication

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