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Biotech Medicine

First Images of Memories Being Made 71

TheSync writes Eurekalert reports that researchers at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital, McGill and UCLA have captured the first image of protein translation that underlies long-term memory formation. A fluorescent protein showed the increased local protein synthesis during memory formation, which requires cooperation between the pre and post-synaptic compartments of the two neurons that meet at the synapse."
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First Images of Memories Being Made

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  • Re:One Step Closer (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MozeeToby ( 1163751 ) on Thursday June 18, 2009 @05:55PM (#28381367)

    Is an amnesiac still the same person? I guess you could argue that they subconsciously still have their memories but I would say its a valid comparison. For that matter, as time goes on what you do and don't remember is constantly changing. Events that were key in making you who you are today are often forgotten about years later.

    I would say that events and memories shape your personality but the personality itself is separate. That being said, if a memory is continuously a part of you, such that you think about it everyday, then that memory is still affecting your personality every time you think about it. Taking that memory away could rapidly lead to a significantly different personality. Imagine soldiers suffering from PTSD and how much their personality would change if you could simply remove the dramatic memories.

  • Re:One Step Closer (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 18, 2009 @06:06PM (#28381527)

    Aren't you running up against the most persistently reinforced memory we have?

    I am me all the time. Whether I remember where I got a particular quirk or not is irrelevant to the fact that I pretty much always remember I have it. In this light, personality is a habit reinforced by repetition.

    To change personality you'd have to change both the source lesson, if it's still remembered at all, and the memory of the habit of that personality. It may not necessarily be more difficult but it's more complicated than simply erasing the memory of a discrete event from the past.

  • Sign Me Up! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 18, 2009 @06:14PM (#28381629)

    I'm interested in a Mars vacation. Remember, I like my women slutty and I DON'T want to wake up thinking I'm agent Hauser.

  • by jackchance ( 947926 ) on Friday June 19, 2009 @09:26AM (#28388801) Homepage
    The "normal" definition of dualism is that there is a physical universe and a metaphysical universe. Science is a method to understand the physical universe, but cannot tell us much about the metaphysical one. If consciousness is metaphysical then neuroscientists, like me, are not going to be much good at figuring it out.

    I think many people confuse physical with deterministic. There are many physical systems that are non-deterministic and I would argue that the brain is one of them. We don't yet know the source of non-determinism in the brain. But there are generally two classes of non-mutually exclusive theories.

    1) There is intrinsic noise in the brain. The human brain is kept at a balmy 37ËsC which provides for plenty of Brownian noise. (I could expand on this at length.. but i have a flight to catch soon)

    2) There is a neural circuit that acts essentially as a roulette wheel in our brain. Why, you might ask, would you have a casino in your head? Because in a competitive world predictability = death. (See this []). This was more or less, the insight that John Nash had when he came up with the Nash Equilibrium [], a critical contribution to game theory [].

    And a quick comment on the question of who are we but our memories? It turns out that we have different kinds of memories that are stored in different parts of our brains. Some of these memories would more normally be called beliefs or strategies but are formed in a very similar way as "normal" episodic memories (like what you had for breakfast). When someone starts to lose their memories of what they had for breakfast (or whether they live, etc) we call it amnesia, and we can often still see remnants of the person (they might have the same moral compass) and they still know how gravity works, etc. When the more basic belief and rule memories start to go, we often use a different word, "dementia", to imply that the person is not acting like themselves, but rather a demented version of themselves.

"We don't care. We don't have to. We're the Phone Company."