Last updated: August 14, 2019
Topic: News
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Science News Article Homework Summary) Laura Sanders writes the recent article on memories cached in the brain called, “Somewhere in the brain is a storage device for memories.” This study focuses on what scientists are doing in order to find the brain’s physical storing device. The depiction of memories are widely different for the average person and scientists. People tend to believe memories as a series of emotions, words, colors and smells embedded into our “unique neural tapestries” (science news) during our lifetime. During the year of 1959, a psychologist first began this study by using a group of worms to suppress shock through light into the worms. He did this to have the worms remember this lesson and anytime they saw the light their bodies would contract/react similarly. This was an extremely extensive experiment but in the end, he was able to find out that the worms had complex arrangements of “brand-spanking-new” nerve cells that had adapted to the memory of the painful shock. From 1959 to today’s time, scientists have still been pondering the same question; what is the physical basis of memory? Somehow, memories get etched into all the brain cells which then form a physical trace that researchers call an “engram.” However the nature of these specific imprints is a mystery. The closest scientists have gotten to answering this question was a study in 2014 where they used sea slugs as their test subjects. They had tracked developing neurons in the slugs. When the memory was made, the synapse sprouted more message-sending bumps, Glanzman’s team reported in eLife in 2014. And when the memory was weakened with a drug that prevents new proteins from being made, some of these bumps disappeared. “That made perfect sense,” Glanzman says. “We expected the synaptic growth to revert and go back to the original, unlearned state. And it did.”‘ (Science News). Big changesIn some creatures, memories can survive massive brain reorganizations, and even complete regrowth. Studying such persistence may provide hints about how memories are stored. Lastly, scientists are still trying to figure out in what ways the brain is able to physically store memories in the brain. The identity of the engram may become the key to answering this recurring question.