Premise: I don't have a strong background in neuroscience or human biology, so I would ask you to answer like you would at a 5 years old child. I have done a couple of research on the web, as well as here on StackExchange, but the answers that I have found are either pretty old or difficult to understand for me.

I have read that memories are not stored in a unique place in our brain.

  • If you knew the region where the particular memory you are looking for is, would you be able to decode it?

Example: Let's say that someone said to you something you perfectly remember even after a few years. Since you remember the exact words, I suppose that those words are stored in our brain somehow. Is it possible to retrieve what those words were?

To summarize my question, what do we know (and don't know) about how we encode memories?

Thank you all.


Given recent advances in AI related neuroscience, I can easily imagine a future where it is possible to decode thoughts and impressions. In fact, we are already nearly there.

It seems like the limitation is not the decoding of memories, but their detection or measurement: While you are seeing an image and the brain actively is working on it its perception, causing your neurons to fire in certain patterns that can physically be measured with fMRI, there is the possibility to decode some information out of these signals. Same if you remember a scene in your memory.

However, I don't see any theoretical potential to read memories out of inactive/dead brains. So I hardly can imagine that any machines can read anything that's not currently happening in the brain. Maybe your brain can be stimulated somehow and its response can be read, but in the end you need physical measurements.


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