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What is a memory...?

Discussion in 'Medical Students - DO' started by Amy B, Apr 24, 2004.

  1. Amy B

    Amy B I miss my son so much
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    I have no idea what happened to my other post on this so I will try again. I think the server went down right when I clicked on post thread.

    I was wondering about something and now it is driving me crazy. I know that our brain takes our memories and stores them in different parts of our brain, so I am wondering what is a memory?

    I mean, what does it look like physiologically? Is it translated into an electrical current or a chemical message, or a brain wave pattern, or.... what?

    This is driving me crazy. Sometimes it is best not to think about something because the answer may be so obscure that you will never answer it. Kinda like what does a soul look like.

    Any Thoughts???
     
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  3. Doctor Peloncito

    Doctor Peloncito Family Physician
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    I think that is the $64,000 question. Wait, I got it, the answer is 42 :laugh:
     
  4. omniatlas

    omniatlas Senior Member
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    I took a inter-theoretic discource of Memory last semester. There were several panalists each /w their own take of what memory is -- we all came out even more confused then ever, lol.

    You can't really define it, although some have, but their explanations are not very inclusive.

    e.g. procedural memory, implicit memory, explicit memory, etc...

    neuroanatomy wise -- amgydala, hippocampus, etc.

    So the question remains....What is Memory?
     
  5. lealf-ye

    lealf-ye I am a super doctor.
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    sometimes you just need to relex and don't think too much. life is beautiful in that way.
     
  6. Robz

    Robz La Vie Boheme
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    No...I think we should get a computer to figure out what the question was.


    so long and thanks for all the fish. :D
     
  7. daveyboy

    daveyboy Senior Member
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    You must be working for the mice! :eek:

    Russel, ask me to tell you about when I met Douglas Adams. It is a pretty funny story.
     
  8. PublicHealth

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    Nobel Laureate Eric Kandel is a pioneer in researching the molecular biology of memory. While his neurobiologic explanations may satisfy most people, psychological and, dare I say, philosophic explanations may need to be invoked when discussing "emergent properties," "domain specificity," "consciousness," and other processes related to memory. Needless to say, memory is an intriguing neurocognitive process that is only beginning to be understood.

    http://www.hhmi.org/research/investigators/kandel.html
     
  9. HooahDOc

    Physician 15+ Year Member

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    Memory is a recognization of a series of previous electrical signals and brain function, or a recognization of a previous chain of conditioned responses. Don't most of us usually remember how or what we felt during a situation rather than the situation itself? :D
     
  10. PublicHealth

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    What's "recognization?" Did you mean "recognition?" If you meant the latter, how do you think this recognition occurs? Do you think we have conscious control of our memories? If memory is a matter of "recognizing previous electrical signals and brain function," then how do you explain forgetting?

    For inquisitive minds, Greg Miller has an article titled "Learning to Forget" in Science, Vol 304, Issue 5667, 34-36, 2 April 2004.
     
  11. HooahDOc

    Physician 15+ Year Member

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    "Recognization" is what you type at one ****ing thirty in the morning. But I guess you were getting off too much in anticipation of pointing out an error you didn't realize this.

    "Forgetting" isn't really forgetting. "Forgetting" is what happens when you fail to make an adequate neural connection for an event because the connection was never completely formed. You can't recall something that isn't there, can you?
     
  12. gioia

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    Amy,

    You should get a copy of 'Memory Observed'. I am in the middle of packing, so it is tucked away, but that book has incredible essays regarding the layers and forms of memories we store. It's fascinating.
     
  13. PublicHealth

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    OK, so all of those concepts that you memorize and regurgitate on exams were "never completely formed?" How did you do well on these exams, then? By "complete formation," do you mean higher-level, cortical memory formation? By saying "when you fail to make an adequate neural connection" implies conscious control over memorization and forgetting (e.g., file cabinet metaphors). My reading of the literature on memory is that the neural networks underlying the organization and re-organization of memory and forgetting is, for the most part, unconscious. Emotionally or autobiographically salient stimuli and/or rehearsal may help facilitate the memorization of something and enhance the duration of its storage in the hippocampus (this may be why it's difficult to memorize abstruse material). Long-term storage of a memory, on the other hand, takes place in higher, cortical regions, and requires additional rehearsal and association with pre-existing memories. Note that the only aspect of this process that is consciously controlled is rehearsal. We have no control over which memories "stick," how these memories are organized, and which are forgotten.

    Of course, this explanation is strictly cognitive. Molecular control of the neural processes underlying memory and forgetting are more reductionistic and complicated, though the global processes resemble those explained by cognitive psychology.
     
  14. H0mersimps0n

    H0mersimps0n HMO CRUSHER
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    Do a web search for Long Term Potentiation and/or the Papez Circuit.

    Memories generally are the strengthening of synaptic connections in the brain. Learning is the process of forming those more permanent connections.

    "the more passes through the circuit the stronger the connections
    = remember better"

    The biggest mystery of thoughts and memories is how the word "CAT" is constructed from neuron connections X, Y, Z, B, F, etc etc

    BUT what we do know is that by practing spelling, saying, learning or understanding the word cat causes a release of Glutamate (a stimulatory neurotransmitter) in neurons X, Y, Z, B, F strengthening the sensitivy and connections of those neurons so that when time comes to "remember" - CAT it comes quicker and easier...

    We learned that for AMPA receptors LTP works like this:
    AMPA
    - Na+ enters cell and depolarizes and action potential results if threshold reached

    for NMDA receptors of glutamate:
    NMDA
    - depolarization removes Mg2+ from receptor
    - Ca2+ enters cell and activates calmodulin
    - Ca2+/calmodulin activates enzymes like adenylate cyclase and CaM kinase II
    - enzyme activation phosphorylates receptors
    - keeps AMPA receptors open longer
    - increases Ca2+ conductances

    Basically the end product is both types of cells are more responsive during recall (oye, recall is a whole other phd thesis)

    I love this stuff, it was my undergrad degree and the amount of research that needs to be done in the field is daunting.
     
  15. PublicHealth

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  16. Fenrezz

    Fenrezz AT Stills Worst Nightmare
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    That's easy. A memory is.... umm....

    err...

    I forgot what I was going to say.
     

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