How the Brain Keeps Adding Memories
Scientists at Columbia have developed a model to help explain how the biological complexity of the brain allows it to create new memories while maintaining older memories for years, or even a lifetime. The new model may help researchers design more targeted memory studies and could lead to the development of powerful computing systems based on the human brain.
The biological and chemical processes involved in memory have been studied extensively. It is widely believed that memories are stored in synapses—tiny structures on the surface of neurons in the brain. The connection between neurons allows memories to form—strong connections create powerful memories; weak connections create vague memories.
This new model shows that memory capacity is greater than previously thought, due in part to the ability of synapses in the brain to function independently of each other, as well as communicate with each other. Researchers hope that these discoveries will lead to a more complete, more detailed characterization of the brain.
Image Credit: Thinkstock