brain and mind/memory

Caudle, Rob Caudle at irp.nidr.nih.gov
Wed Jan 25 10:35:47 EST 1995


There are two ways in which memory is most likely stored.  The first is 
simply a correlation of activity between neurons.  This can be anything from 
an oscillating circuit to simply synchronizing the firing of many neurons.  
The amount of time that information can be stored in this manner is a matter 
of debate among neuroscientists.   However, mathematicians (see Langton 
Physica D 42:12-37, 1990) claim that the length of time that information can 
be stored in this manner is dependant on the size of the network and, 
theoretically, the storage could be infinite, or at least as long as one's 
life time.

The second mechanism is much more heavily studied and involves storing 
information within the synapses by adjusting their strength.  This is 
thought to occur by increasing the amount of transmitter released from the 
presynaptic terminal or by increasing the postsynaptic response to a given 
amount of transmitter, or through both mechanisms (see Churchland and 
Sejnowski, The Computational Brain).  This is the mechanism of information 
storage implied when people study the phenomena of long term potentiation 
and long term depression.  This form of information storage has already been 
exploited for numerous applications in the use of neural nets.

There may also be other forms of information storage in the brain that are 
currently poorly understood or have not even been conceived of yet, thus the 
field of information storage in nervous systems should remain an important 
research topic for many years.

R. Caudle



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