Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

TagMemory formation

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Ever Wish You Had Total Recall? Ask People Who Do…

Recall of every detail of one’s past works out better for some people than for others

Marilu Henner who played Elaine Nardo in the sitcom Taxi (1978–1983), has total recall: She can recall, off the top of her head, the exact day she got the part. “It was June 4 of 1978. It was a Sunday and I found out at the ‘Grease’ premiere party,” Henner said. “‘Taxi’ is so vivid to my mind. The very first rehearsal was July the 5 th of 1978. That was a Wednesday and our first show was shot the 14 th, a Friday.” The actress, who has also starred in “L.A. Story” (1991) and “Man on the Moon” (1999), is one of only 12 people in the world diagnosed with hyperthymesia, also known as Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory. David…

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Orchestra rehearsal

Memory Leans More on the Brain’s Electric Field Than on Neurons

MIT researchers compare the electric field to an orchestra conducting the neurons as players

The Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at MIT offers an interesting new model of how memories are processed in the brain. Using two macaques playing a game while their brain activities were recorded, the researchers suggest the orchestra as a model. The neurons are the players and the electric field is the conductor: As the brain strives to hold information in mind, such as the list of groceries we need to buy on the way home, a new study suggests that the most consistent and reliable representation of that information is not the electrical activity of the individual neurons involved but an overall electric field they collectively produce. Indeed, whenever neuroscientists have looked at how brains represent information in…

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senior woman with family photo on tablet pc screen

What Neuroscientists Now Know About How Memories Are Born and Die

Where, exactly are our memories? Are modern media destroying them? Could we erase them if we wanted to?

At one time, neuroscientists believed that there must be a “seat” of memory in the brain, something like a room with a door marked Memory. They settled on two structures called hippocampi, on either side of the brain’s base. The illustration shows the the hippocampus of the right hemisphere (public domain). But memories turned out to have no fixed address. Neuroscientist Matthew Cobb, author of The Idea of the Brain (2020, excerpt here), tells us, But the hippocampuses are not the site of memory storage. Rather, these brain regions are the encoders and the routes through which memory formation seems to pass. The memories that are processed by the hippocampuses seem to be distributed across distant regions of the brain.…