Educators educating Educators

Jul 23

Location of S-T Memory

In addition, investigate the fascinating discussion of "H.M." in Long-Term Memory, the man some researchers claim contributed the most to our understanding of memory.

Memory & the Hippocampus

Rita Carter explains in her new book The Human Brain that “memories are stored in fragments throughout the brain and are distributed throughout the brain. One way to envisage the pattern of memories in the brain is as a complex web, in which the threads symbolize the various elements of a memory that joins at the nodes, or intersection points, to form a whole, rounded memory of an object, person, or event.”

One benefit of such a distributed storage system is that it makes long-term memories more or less indestructible because if one part of an experience is lost, many others will remain.

If they were held in a single brain area, damage to that place would eradicate the memory completely. As it is, brain trauma and degeneration may nibble away at memories but rarely destroy them entirely. You may lose a person’s name, for example, but not the memory of their face.

Carter explains that “declarative memories are laid down and accessed by the hippocampus but are stored throughout the brain. Each element of a memory is encoded in the same part of the brain that originally created that fragment. When you recall the experience, you recreate it in essence by reactivating the neural pattern generated during the original experience that was encoded to memory. Once a memory is sparked off, the hippocampus triggers various aspects of it in unison and different brain areas recall a variety of memories.”

Take, for example, the memory of a dog or cat you once owned. Your recall of his color is created by the color area of the visual cortex; the motor area of your brain reconstructs the recollection of walking the dog; his name is stored in the language area, and so on.



In case you get bored with the lazy days of summer and want to get a jump preparing for the coming school year, I added to Stuff4Educators a section called How to Study Better based on research from Harvard Medical School that highlights four science-backed ways towards better learning (Hint: drop the highlighter). Additionally, I posted a YouTube video under exercise from the Dana Foundation that won the Northwest Emmy award called Exercise and the Brain that explores the benefits of exercise on the brain and learning. Finally, some books that I have read this past year and found to be stimulating are listed.