How Does Memory Work? Essay

2389 words - 10 pages

“I have a terrible memory”. How often have you heard a person say this statement? A human’s memory is an amazing and interesting hidden wonder that has been a major topic neuroscientists have been studying for many years. One of the first to propose an idea on how memory works was Plato. “Plato proposed that impressions are made upon the brain much as a stylus marks a wax tablet” (Yepsen 148). Karl Lashley, a neuropsychologist, has more recently searched for proof by picking apart rats’ brains. He had stated that memories were electrical impressions that had been stored. Even more recently than Lashley’s theory, it was theorized that memories are placed in the brain as ...view middle of the document...

A person generally relates a memory with the senses, such as visual, auditory, smell, and touch. The sensations navigate their way to the section of the brain that combines the perceptions as they were happening into one single experience (Mohs). “Experts believe that the hippocampus, along with another part of the brain called the frontal cortex, is responsible for analyzing these various sensory inputs and deciding if they're worth remembering” (Mohs). The experiences become part of a person’s long-term memory, if they are deemed important enough to be remembered. The diverse pieces of information are stored in various parts of the brain and the question still remains on how they are identified and recovered to form a cohesive memory. A memory is encoded and saved by using chemicals and electricity. A synapse is where other cells connect with nerve cells (Mohs). It has been predicted that there are around 100 trillion synapses (Yepsen 5). At the synapse, where all of the activity in a person’s brain develops, electrical pulses jump across divisions between the cells (Mohs). It has been predicted that there are around 100 billion brain cells that are attached by electrical fibers. “The average brain cell (or neuron) is linked to some 10,000 others, and some neurons may be patched into as many as 200,000 (Yepsen 4). Brain chemicals, about 30 chemicals, control the transportation of the signals across the divisions between the cells (Yepsen 5). Neurotransmitters are discharged due to the pulse being electrically fired across the gap (Mohs). “A neurotransmitter is a naturally occurring chemical in the brain that either encourages or discourages the flow of electrical messages between the neurons” (Yepsen 2). Neurotransmitters control and balance a person’s behavior, thinking, and emotions by moving into the liquid-filled synapse (Yepsen 5). Brain cells have feathery tips, called dendrites, which connect to nearby brain cells (Mohs). Signals are carried to neurons from the cells by dendrites, which are electrical impulses in the nerve cell, and from other fibers called axions (Yepsen 5). A network of brain cells work as a unit to specialize in distinct types of information processing. The synapse between brain cells grow and get stronger as signals are sent between them resulting in the brain rewiring itself slightly in physical structure, due to each new experience (Mohs). “The brain organizes and reorganizes itself in response to your experiences, forming memories triggered by the effects of outside input prompted by experience, education, or training” (Mohs). A person must first be paying attention to accurately encode a memory. A person cannot pay attention to every single thing all the time, so only a small amount of stimuli go into a person’s conscious awareness and the rest is filtered out. Scientists are not positive if stimuli are blocked out during the stage of sensory input, or after the brain decides whether it is...

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