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34

Short answer It has been shown that loss of long-term memories may enhance the retrieval of others. Short-term working memory is explicitly designed to be volatile and non-lasting. However, there are many other types of memories where memory loss may not be explicitly beneficial, or even outright debilitating such as in the case of Alzheimer's or stroke. ...


22

There are multiple levels of memory, some of which would die immediately, some of which would take some time. So the answer is: it depends; some immediately, some only very slowly. At the highest level, the current neuronal firing state of the brain encodes memory on a very short scale - working memory. The memory held on this level does not have a clear ...


21

No, it can't be done for a lot of reasons. Here are just a few. 1) Memories are stored in electrical pathways, not the the cells themselves. You don't have 1000 memories in a chunk of brain that contains 1000 neurons. If you don't get the entire pathway, you won't get the memory. 2) Once a nerve is cut, it won't fuse with another cut nerve. All you'll have ...


18

The way neuroscientists currently think about storage in the brain, it doesn't make any sense to think about "duplicate" data but rather about the "robustness" of a given memory to interference or confusion, which increases with consolidation and reconsolidation of memories or can degrade over time. Repeated exposure can contribute to the robustness of a ...


16

Short answer Motor memory Background A striking personal example of your account pictured in the question was my experience where I had to type in my PIN at the bank counter on a keypad. It turned out I entered it incorrectly several times in a row, despite the fact that I had used that PIN a zillion times on ATM machines. Luckily, the bank employee had ...


14

Fish are definitely evolving to avoid fishing pressure. For example, largemouth bass evolve toward avoiding hooks. More broadly, since fishing selectively removes larger fish from the population, there's selection toward fish evolving smaller size. A brief review, linking to many studies demonstrating this, is Evolutionary impacts of fishing: overfishing's ...


10

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electromagnetic_pulse mentions the following natural sources of EMP, which I have ordered by frequency / period, from the shortest to the longest: Electrostatic discharge from objects coming into contact (normally too small to be of any concern) Lightning (milliseconds) Solar flares (hours.) Such flares cause geomagnetic storms (...


9

The idea that memories could be stored as RNA or proteins is an old one. It got a lot of attention decades ago when James McConnell did a number of experiments where he conditioned planarian flatworms to respond to certain stimuli, ground them up, fed them to worms that hadn't gone through the conditioning. He claimed to have observed that the worms fed ...


9

It's very likely that memory is "lossy" and holographic, such that you can keep adding more information indefinitely, but retain it with less and less accuracy. Memory isn't a digital storage system with X gigabytes of capacity, and the inputs to memory aren't neat little packets. What we remember are a web of associations and patterns. Vastly ...


8

The brain is not an electronic device. An EMP is basically a large amount of electrons flying by all at once. They are negatively charged, and as they pass by they distort your local EM-field (hence the name). This distortion induces current in the wires (a phenomenon known since Faraday) - since most wires aren't made with a large tolerance, the sudden ...


8

Three possible mechanisms are mentioned in the first referenced article [1]: Attentional blink - the failure to detect a (visual) stimulus [2]. Visual short-term memory - non-permanent storage of visual information over an extended period of time [3]. Psychological refractory period - the period of time during which the response to a second stimulus is ...


8

Memory is formed by building connections between nerve cells (i.e. neurons). These connections are called synapses. The synapses form a network between several (or tens or hundreds) of neurons, therefore giving us the ability to retrieve something we had memorized before. Learning something new requires building new connections, but the older connections ...


7

One famous person, Solomon Shereshevsky, had an unusual ability to remember everything he encountered: sights, numbers, words in foreign languages, events from infancy, and more. Unfortunately, S’s gift was a serious handicap. He was unable to block unwanted memories. Also, he had a terrible memory for faces because he memorized them so exactly. People’s ...


6

Once the thermodynamically irreversible processes we call brain-death have occurred both memories and the machinery to retrieve them are lost. This is not an answer but a cavil with the premise of the question. Challenges that do not destroy the brain itself are different from those that do. In particular there may be a big difference between hypoxia ...


6

The current working theory (note this is still an open question, but there are many leads being followed): Sensory systems receive a combination of signals from an event, which are initially bound to the hippocampus (this is called episodic memory). Then, typically during sleep, the memories are consolidated. A simplified view is that consolidation ...


5

This isn't a ridiculous idea; Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation is used in research and even has some use as treatment for depression (http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/transcranial-magnetic-stimulation/basics/definition/prc-20020555) In TMS a strong, localized magnetic field can disrupt normal functioning of regions of the brain. For instance it ...


5

I have never heard of this pathway. Memory is usually assoiciated with synaptic plasticity by ‘Long-term potentiation’ (LTP), which has glutamate as a neurotransmitter. Neuroscience Exploring the brain (Bear, et al,. 2007), has a pretty good explanation of this process, if you're interrested. Motor patterns have more mechanisms than LTP, and are not as well ...


5

Is the information in the Brain stored in the connections rather than in the neurons ? It depends on what information you are referring to. The brain does not just store one type of information,the model of a grandmother cell and the model of an interconnected neuron network are 2 subsystems of a greater system working together perhaps in a competitive ...


5

According to engram theory: Yes. However, you need more than one cell to encode a memory engram. The idea is that the combination of cells encodes the memory, not the cells themselves. I am most familiar with the hippocampus, in which cells participating in the encoding of "concepts" like Jennifer Aniston, Bill Clinton or the Sydney Opera House have been ...


5

Who says it has to be good? We cannot assume that every trait that evolves is beneficial to the species. A lot of people assume that the species of an ecosystem will evolve optimally; that is, they assume each species evolves to have the best possible genes for its environment. My understanding is this is not the case. Species have to adapt or face ...


5

We are only barely beginning to understand how the brain works, including memory. We do know that it is a very complex thing. There are many different kinds of memory; many different processes are involved in creating and recalling memories. One factor that plays into a naïve concept of "how old a memory is" is that "remembering" does not seem to be a ...


5

The brain is trained to remember patterns and predictable associations. Randomness is the absence of patterns, so it's the exact opposite of what the human brain is for. A human can remember random numbers to about 67,890, which is the world record digits of Pi. That's about 20 pages of irrational numbers. Some people can remember 20 pages of word documents. ...


4

No — typical DNA extraction will not preserve information about the biochemical state of the cell. During the process of DNA extraction, proteins are removed and DNA from a population of cells gets precipitated. Then you dissolve the DNA. In this process native conformational state cannot be preserved. However there are techniques (see this post) that ...


4

Short answer A single pacemaker neuron can generate oscillatory behavior. Background Given our exchange in the comments, I will focus on single neurons with intrinsic oscillatory behavior. For example, thalamocortical relay neurons and inferior olive neurons have intrinsic oscillatory properties, mainly through the interaction of a hyperpolarization-...


3

The answer to this question is complicated, but assume it's not for the moment. The easy answer is that our eyes can detect patterns we're familiar with and "produce" an answer in the form of a number. Unfamiliar patterns do not produce this 'number'. Take a die. We are immediately aware of the number of dots in the typical arrangement of one to six. We ...


3

The phenomenon you describe is known as tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon, where you know there is a word, and you feel it's "right on the tip of the tongue, but doesn't come out". The phenomenon is normal and tends to worsen with age. Only in case it becomes so strong that it seriously interferes with daily life, it can be considered a medical condition (anomic ...


3

If you think about it, monarchs must have a pretty strong genetic component to migration since often they only make one round trip at most in a lifetime. But its not as simple as passing a map in the DNA. If a mountain springs up on the route, the 'common sense' of the butterflies are still operational and they will tend to find their way around it. ...


3

What are the advantages of forgetting? Perhaps the question asked should be what is the disadvantage of remembering every little detail? The answer is cost. It cost energy/neuron to remember everything. Neural tissue are expensive to maintain and feed. At rest, the human brain consume 20% of all calories. And that is alot of energy when the human brain is ...


3

Wood frogs are highly philopatric to their breeding ponds. And the fact that they return to the same pond after multiple winters, would indicate that, at the very least, they must retain at least some spatial memory after freezing. It is worth noting that a frozen wood frog is not nearly the same scenario as a butterfly metamorphing. Butterfly metamorphosis ...


2

Forgetfulness is a common phenomenon that tends to increase with age. It usually affects short term memories but it can affect long term ones too. Here are some possible causes which I quote from Healthline (the full list available at that link): sleep deprivation use of alcohol or drugs and some prescription medications lack of oxygen to the brain ...


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