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BrainFacts.org

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Image of the Week: The Structure of Memory

Your oldest memories are etched into your brain thanks to tiny structures in your neurons.

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Image of the Week: Pavlov’s Flies

The brain links smells and sensations to create lasting memories.

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Introduction

From song lyrics to former addresses, our brains hold a seemingly endless supply of information. How are we able to learn, store, and recall information with such ease? Brain cells undergo chemical and structural changes during learning. By changing the number, or strength, of connections between brain cells, information is written into memory. Ongoing studies are helping scientists identify how different areas of the brain work together to enhance memory formation and storage. This insight could one day guide new treatments for learning disorders and memory loss. Advances in molecular biology and genetics are offering new clues about key molecules and proteins that influence memory. Recent animal studies suggest that manipulating these molecules could lead to new ways of modifying memories, with the potential of weakening traumatic memories that may underlie post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Similar studies may lead to new treatment options for memory loss.

Discoveries

Does practice make perfect?

Source: Society for Neuroscience
While experts debate the type and length of practice that is optimal for success, one thing is clear: training improves performance and changes the brain.

Mapping Your Every Move

Source: Dana Foundation
The most advanced surveillance system you will ever find is built into your own brain and nurtured by evolution.

Sketch of a Memory

Source: Society for Neuroscience

A song can remind you of an event that happened many years ago. Learn about the processes of memory and watch as a woman remembers her first date.


Is photographic memory real? If so, how does it work?

Source: Society for Neuroscience
People with "photographic memory" are thought to be able to take and recall mental snapshots without error. But there is no evidence this type of memory exists.

Neuroplasticity and Learning

Source: Society for Neuroscience

Learning how the brain acquires and recalls information is more fun when costumes are involved. Watch for the giant sea hare, an animal famous for its role in scientists’ discovery of learning and memory.

Learning and Memory in the News

The Forgotten Childhood: Why Early Memories Fade

Source: NPR Shots Blog
Date: 8 April 2014
Scientists have begun to figure out when childhood memories start to fade and which early memories survive.

New Studies Show Promise for Brain Training in Improving Fluid Intelligence

Source: The Atlantic
Date: 7 April 2014
Though not definitive, new research points to short- and long-term real-world benefits of playing brain-training games.

A Message from Your Brain: I'm Not Good at Remembering What I Hear

Source: National Geographic
Date: 12 March 2014
A University of Iowa study compares how well humans remember something depending on whether it is seen, heard, or touched.