Rules of memory ‘beautifully’ rewritten

Rules of memory ‘beautifully’ rewritten

Rules of memory ‘beautifully’ rewritten

What really happens when we make and store memories has been unraveled in a discovery that surprised even the scientists who did.
The American and Japanese team found that the brain “bends” by simultaneously making two memories of events.
One is for the here-and-now and the other for a lifetime, they found.
It was thought that all memories begin as a short-term memory and then slowly become a long-term memory.
The experts said the findings were surprising, but also beautiful and convincing.
“Significant progress”
Two parts of the brain are very involved in remembering our personal experiences.
The hippocampus is the place for short-term memories, while the cortex is home to long-term memories.
This idea became famous after the Henry Molaison case in the 1950s.
His hippocampus was damaged during epilepsy surgery and he was no longer able to make new memories, but those before the operation were still there.
So the predominant idea was that memories are formed in the hippocampus and then moved to the cortex where they are “deposited”.
The team at the Riken-MIT Center for Genetics of Neural Circuits has done something that has been mind-boggling to show that this is not the case.
The experiments had to be performed on mice, but are thought to apply to human brains as well.
They involved seeing specific memories form as a group of brain cells connected in reaction to a shock.
The researchers then used irradiated light in the brain to control the activity of individual neurons – which could literally change memories or off.
The results, published in the journal Science, showed that memories were formed simultaneously in the hippocampus and cortex.
Professor Susumu Tonegawa, director of the research center, said: “This was surprising.”
He told the News website: “This is contrary to the popular hypothesis that has been celebrated for decades.
“This is a significant advance compared to prior knowledge, it’s a big change.”

Mice do not appear to use long-term memory of the cortex in the first few days after it is formed.
They forgot the crash event when scientists turned off short-term memory in the hippocampus.
However, they could make the mice remember manually changing the memory in the long run (so it was definitely there).
“It’s immature or quiet for the first few days after training,” Professor Tonegawa said.

Rules of memory ‘beautifully’ rewritten third case

The researchers also showed that long-term memory never matured if the connection between the hippocampus and the cortex was blocked.
So there is still a link between the two parts of the brain, with the balance of power shifting from the hippocampus to the cortex over time.
Dr. Amy Milton, who investigates memory at Cambridge University, described the study as “beautiful, elegant and extremely impressive.”
She told the News website: “I’m quite surprised.
“The idea that you need the crust for memories is comfortable, but the fact that it’s so early is a surprise.
“This is just a study, but I think they have a strong case, I think it’s convincing and I think this will tell us about how memories are stored in humans as well.”
For now, this is simply a piece of fundamental science that explains how our bodies work.
But Professor Tonegawa says he can illuminate what happens in some memory diseases, including dementia.
One of his previous studies showed that mice with Alzheimer’s were still forming memories but were not able to retrieve them.
“Understanding how this happens may be relevant in patients with brain disease,” he said.

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