solidifying memory, rubber, vulcanization, heat setting of dyes, anethesia

Researchers are providing us some great insight into the most fundamental areas of learning and memory. Namely, we’re now able to look at the small “spines” on the receiving end of the neuron (the dendrite). The latest research suggests that these spines are the location of memory. Interestingly, once the spines enlarge and stabilize, they don’t go away from lack of use. Rather, their necks (the connection between the synapse and the dendrite) elongate. This elongation may account for forgetting. Interestingly, once a spine receives input after having been unused for a while, its neck immediately shrinks. This may be the mechanism for re-solidifying lost memory. So basically an unused “memory” biologically remains until it is needed again. And this may also happen with regards to the pointer-like neural network +Adam Black alluded to.


1:28 PM

+Edward Conrad  It makes sense – helps explain that “just out of reach” feeling with memories; they may LITERALLY be just out of reach, hiding behind a corner or a little ways down a tube.

I like that idea because it can at least be tied to a physical system, something a lot of memory theories don’t as they get lost in the world of mathematics and psychology and philosophy and such  (not that there’s anything wrong with abstractions.. but the way I look at it, those abstractions are happening someplace – in a brain at the very least :P )

When studying the brain a bit heavily last year, I was looking for analogies in physical systems, trying to find matches that were close enough to explain at least some things.

The way rubber changes through vulcanization really struck me as helpful, as did the way that heat can release dyes (colors) and set dyes.

There’s a theory about how Anesthesia works that involves the nature of the brain matter itself (being fatty) – and the way that fats can congeal or liquify were also inspirational.  I never had any solid conclusions from my attempts at finding analogies for human memory but I did get some vague possibilities that I never fleshed out into any kind of full theories.

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