Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The key to memory . . .

FOR THE FIRST TIME, science is getting a clear picture of how your memories are stored. According to Ed Yong's article in DISCOVER, "Exposing the memory engine: the story of PKMzeta", your memories are stored through a protein called PKMzeta, which you see above.

In the last decade, scientists have found that it takes active and unrelenting effort to keep our memories intact. Even long-term memories are constantly on the verge of being erased. To keep them stable, we need to continually recreate a protein called PKMzeta. This molecule is the engine of memory, constantly whirring to store information in our brains. Give the engine a boost, and old memories gain a new lease on life. Switch it off, and we forget things…. permanently.

When we learn new things, PKMzeta shows up at the gaps between neurons (synapses) and boosts the signals that go across them. This strengthens the connections between the neurons on either side, and this network of bolstered connections is the physical embodiment of our memories.

Why should you care? They can erase memories permanently. There are very important implications in this research, for medicine, and new, truly effective treatment for mental problems — but it could bring about a method for mass mind-control, if you are paranoid.


moderate said...

Ahhhh...that explains it...and my kids said it was because I was getting old!

Peter said...

Not to worry, Edstock, other research is showing "their" efforts to control our minds can be thwarted by a regular diet of broccoli. Or Baconators, I can never remember which.