The mechanics of memory

View The mechanics of memory

Presenter: Tim Bliss

Published: December 2012

Age: 18-22 and upwards

Views: 1212 views

Tags: brain synapse m

Type: Lectures

Source/institution: Royal Society

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How does the brain store and recall memories? A critical neural component of memory is the synapse, a specialist junction where one nerve cell releases a transmitter chemical to influence the excitability of another. Memorable events are thought to induce long-lasting changes in the strength of synapses in the neural network activated by the event. It is this pattern of strengthened or weakened synapses that encodes the neural trace or memory of the event. The discovery over forty years ago of a phenomenon called long-term potentiation confirmed that appropriate patterns of synaptic activity can indeed induce long-lasting changes in synaptic strength in the hippocampus, a cortical structure known to be required for the laying down of new memories. This lecture will discuss how the study of long-term potentiation has led to a greater understanding of the physiological mechanisms of memory, and how this information might be used to enhance memory and to treat memory disorders.

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