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ScottD asked in Science & MathematicsBiology · 1 decade ago

Curious about memory and how it works?

I'm just interested in how memory works. It seems like I asked my anatomy/physiology professor, and he said he didn't really know. He did mention a possibility of some sort of signal/communication between two cells in our brain.

If you can elaborate on short term/long term memory, then that would be great. Basically...why are some things in short term versus long term? I know repetition helps with long term memory, but there are certain things that may occur once that stay in our long term. Anything you have to say about it....please do.

I'm curious because just thinking back on my whole school career, I feel like I haven't learned as much permanent (long term) information as I would have liked to. Don't get me wrong, during the semester and school year....I probably remember more than 98% of the people in class because I'm extremely meticulous and I love every little detail....but it just seems like after the semester or class is done's just kind of gone out of my memory. I hate it because I would love to memorize everything. I understand that if I used the information regularly that it would be easier to recall, but we know that's not always the case. Furthermore, I know that it would be easier to "re-learn" if I wanted to. It's just I would love to just have that information readily available without looking it up to refresh.

I don't care whether you post links up, copy or paste, or type from your own memory (ha).


I'm sure my professor knew where they were stored, but my question was about how they were formed as you pointed out.

4 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Top neuroscientists are wondering the same thing so don't feel bad. The current idea is that memories are patterns of activity between networks of neurons. Each neuron may have a unit role/symbolism (like the smell of cookies or something) but this isn't fully understood yet. The strength and maintenance of a memory is determined by the strength of the connection between that particular network of neurons. It is now known that protein synthesis is required to form long term memories (as another poster pointed out). Although not yet proven, scientists think that this is because memory formation is triggered by a protein anchoring 2 neurons together tightly.

  • 1 decade ago

    If I can recall correctly from my AP Psych class our memories are primary stored within our hippocampus (your A/P professor doesn't know that?). As for actually how a memory is formed I'm not exactly certain but I do have extensive background regarding memories.

    The primary difference between short-term and long-term memories is that short-term memories are memories retained within the time that you've been awake for while long-term memories are memories that you've kept after you've gone to sleep and have woken back up. The whole idea is that there's a kind of solid bridge in your brain for STMs while you paid no specific attention to a LTM until it was brought to your attention. For an example of a short term memory can you recall what time you woke up after your last period of sleep? As for an example of LTM can you recall where your freshman year's roommate was from?

    Also, if you go to Science Daily (sorry, my computer's slow; I'd post the link if it wouldn't freeze up) and do a search for "memory" you'd probably come across a recent article which actually showed that proteins are actually made within the brain when memories are created. I don't remember the exact specifics of the article but it was fairly recent but what this proved is that we actually make proteins based on what our memories are made of. In the memory reconstruction/destruction field this is an incredible find because, for example, damage by TBIs could interfere with the upkeep of previously-made proteins. It's a huge find but it's like a tip in a cold case: it could lead to a breakthrough or it could lead to nothing.

    Also, another thing with memory is that it has been found that Austistic people have incredible memories. You've probably seen the movie "Rain Man" which depicts Raymond who has Autism / savant syndrome. Throughout the movie he performs several incredible feats of memory. For a long time, though, doctors and biomedical engineers have been puzzled by why Austistic people's brains are abnormally larger than most other people's. It has been theorized that Austistic people have extremely larger hippocampi than a person without an Autistic spectrum condition but I've never any results from autopsies performed on Autistic people.

    Believe it or not a perfect example of an Autistic person with a phenomenal memory is actually myself. I was diagnosed with Asperger's when I was 9 (the youngest age you could be diagnosed at here in CT) and to this day I remember some remarkable things. On my second birthday my parents took me in my stroller to the track behind the high school that my mother worked at and I remembered being on a very steep hill out of my stroller with a very large, old tree at the very bottom of the hill. When I went back to that high school for track & field events I remembered that that was the place where I had that memory because that large tree was still there right at the bottom of the hill. As another example I worked as a cashier at a Walgreens and I remember the highest total that I ever rang out: $134.67. A fellow student and swimmer of mine came in with his mom and they spent $80.65 on school supplies. I have a lot of memories like that that come up periodically and people are amazed at various memories and mathematical computations that I can perform. I got a 94 for the year in a higher-level algebra 2 class and although I am taking a while to get used to calculus I'm slowly but surely getting through to the point where I'm getting proficient at it.

    Source(s): AP Psych AP Bio Enrolled college biochem/biotech major
  • Anonymous
    4 years ago

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  • 1 decade ago

    The thing I remember most from school is putting TAGS on things. Like the Planets in our Solar System are M V-E-M J S-U-N + P as in Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, + Pluto. With this triggers I can remember things from 50 years ago or from yesterday. Since I'm obsessive/compulsive and therefore prefer to possess ALL the initials like ADD and ADHD and PDQ and all that stuff, I have no problem putting tags on most of the things I prefer to memorize. This actually cuts down on the bit-storage too since you are compacting the data into a trigger word.

    The odd thing about Nature is that while you are young and physically able to do things, you have few experiences and not as much knowledge about what is kewl or not and then when you get older and you are not able to move as easily and you start to fade in the memory a bit and getting up gets harder each year. BUT you have ALL the knowledge and ALL the experience you need.

    In a way, you make up in knowledge for what you lack in physicality. In your younger years you could lift a 350 Chevy Motor perhaps. Now that you are older you know more geometry so you can use a 2x4 pry board or a motor carrier to move it around perhaps even better than when you were young.

    Although there are some things that you USED to be able to do that you now rely on Triple A to do.

    The OTHER thing to do is to take Ginkgo Biloba for memory and this homeopathic called "4 Thought" ... I think Country Life makes it but any good health store should have it and if you want to save money on it you can usually get stuff like that from

    Great Prices, Super Quality, and they're NICE People! EAsy to deal with but you'll need to know what you want since they can't prescribe anything.

    I'm not sure if they still have this or if the company still exists in its original form but there used to be this company called Oasis Products and they had this formula called Ageless. You could take that and your memory was INSANE! I could remember invoice numbers for customers and their names and the bike they had and the work we did and what we had to special order ... it got really scary. When I stopped taking it my memory went back to normal.

    IF I had my choices I would do the Ageless from Oasis. You gotta track them on the internet. I can see if I can find my old book and my upline guy and see if I can still order from them. I'd like to order some for myself as well. I ran into a local store that offers Oasis Products but I couldn't get her to talk about Ageless b/c it's from 2001-2002. She thinks thats a LONG time ago. I told her 1950 was a lot longer ... but NOT THAT MUCH longer. She just smiled.

    Anyway, it's there if you want to try it. If you can't find Ageless then I would do the next best; Ginkgo Biloba, 4 Thought, Gotu Kola for mental energy + my favorite trinity, just for GP and general overall immune system improvement, Suma, Pau d'Arco, and Astragalus. The Astragalus will help protect you from cancer as well. The last 3 are adaptogens and will work to keep your body chemistry balanced.

    I did a LOT of study on memory but found that one of the BEST Things to do is physical exercise. That really keeps the mind sharp. When I was on the football team my grades were the best and I felt the best. Now, a simple walk around the desert for a mile or two is more than enough. I used to bicycle about 50 miles per day and that used to do wonders ... my bike has been in storage but I think it's time to pull it out again. I never felt better than when I was bicycling and lifting weights at home.

    There are more things to take if you're bicycling ... it's endless ... but it will make you feel like Superman. You work on the muscle group when you bicycle ... more Inositol (Inosine), Liquid B-12, High Magnesium like from thisbike additive "Endura" ... not sure if that is around anymore either but if not there should be a replacement.

    L-Taurine is another good brain/energy booster and it helps lower your blood pressure a bit.

    If you really want to get into it let me know ... I have several people I can tap for info and that sort of thing I like. I shuld get back into it now to lose weight and get back into shape after my heart operation.

    Good luck ... it's a great endeavor you're doing and it might save you from Alzheimer's when you get to be an antique. Nothing worse than to work all your life to learn what you've learned ... only to forget it. That would tick me off but I guess I wouldn't remember to get ticked off so I would be stuck living in the NOW ... not a BAD situation I guess.

    I AM


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