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.