Memory

Neurophilosophy

Category archives for Memory

Sleepy brain waves predict dream recall

THE patterns of brain waves that occur during sleep can predict the likelihood that dreams will be successfully recalled upon waking up, according to a new study published in the Journal of Neuroscience. The research provides the first evidence of a ‘signature’ pattern of brain activity  associated with dream recall. It also provides further insight…

An interview with Suzanne Corkin

SUZANNE Corkin is a professor of behavioural neuroscience at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who worked with the famous amnesic patient H.M. for more than 45 years. I interviewed her at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in San Diego last month, for this article I wrote for The Dana Foundation. We talked…

Apparent motion steers the wandering mind

DAYDREAMING is a critical component of conscious experience. The mind can perform mental time travel – it occasionally strays from the present moment, to recollect an experience from the near or distant past, or to imagine an event that has not yet taken place. We know that thinking about the future is dependant on memory,…

Brain scans read memories

FORMATION of a memory is widely believed to leave a ‘trace’ in the brain – a fleeting pattern of electrical activity which strengthens the connections within a widely distributed network of neurons, and which re-emerges when the memory is recalled. The concept of the memory trace was first proposed nearly a century ago, but the…

Glimpsing memory traces in real time

MEMORY is one of the biggest enduring mysteries of modern neuroscience, and has perhaps been researched more intensively than any other aspect of brain function. The past few decades have yielded a great deal of knowledge about the cellular and molecular mechanisms of memory, and it is now widely believed that memories are formed as…

Project H.M., Phase I

IN February of this year, Jacopo Annese (above), a neuroanatomist and radiologist at the University of California, San Diego travelled to Boston to take delivery of a brain. For Annese, collecting brains is not unusual – he is, after all, director of UCSD’s Brain Observatory, which will eventually become a comprehensive library of brains donated…

THE humble fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) has the ability to learn and remember, and to make predictions about the outcome of its behaviours on the basis of past experience. Compared to a human brain, that of the fruit fly  is relatively simple, containing approximately 250,000 cells. Even so, little is known about the anatomical basis…

Eye movements reveal unconscious memory retrieval

THIS short film clip shows two images of the same scene. Watch it carefully, and see if you can spot the subtle differences between them. As you watch, your eyes will dart back and forth across the images, so that you can perceive the most important features. And even though you might not be consciously…

Mental time travel

MEMORY, Blake wrote, enables us to “traverse times and spaces far remote”. It constitutes mental time travel, with which we can recollect, in vivid detail, events that took place many years ago. We have known, for the best part of a century, that memory is reconstructive rather than reproductive. That is, recollection involves piecing together…

Memory has intrigued us for millenia, and is today one of the most active areas of neuroscience research. Much of this research has aimed to understand how memories are laid down, and a picture of how this happens is beginning to emerge. Hundreds of studies published over the past few decades provide evidence that memory…