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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

Image of the Week: Building Memories

Source: Society for Neuroscience
A protein involved in long-term memory formation may hold a clue to understanding Alzheimer’s disease.

Brain and Memory Extended

Source: The Kavli Foundation
Science writer Bruce Lieberman asked questions about memory and the brain of two leading researchers in the field: Bradford Dickerson and Mayank Mehta.

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.

Learning and Memory in the News

What’s Lost as Handwriting Fades

Source: New York Times
Date: 2 June 2014
Even as the emphasis shifts to the keyboard, experts say that learning to write by hand improves motor skills, memory and creativity.

Flashes of Light Show How Memories are Made

Source: Nature
Date: 2 June 2014
Researchers confirm cellular basis for memory by implanting and erasing fear into the brains of rats using fibre optics.

No memories of infancy? Your growing brain is to blame, study says

Source: Los Angeles Times
Date: 9 May 2014

Infantile amnesia may be due to rapid brain growth, causing memories to be displaced soon after they're made.