Layman's question on the biology of Long-term memory.

mat mats_trash at hotmail.com
Tue Apr 16 15:00:41 EST 2002


I concur wih Sizemore upthread about RAM or hard drive-like storage
not being a particualrly helpful metaphor.  As it seems to me, after
reading quite a bit about the subtleties of synaptic modulation a more
gneral point can be made.  It is unhelpful to associate any particular
cellular or network level function with an (almost arbitrary) division
of higher cognitive function.  It happens all the time e.g.
LTP=memory, Schizophrenia=Dopamine Receptor or NMDA receptor,
Depression=Serotonin Receptor.  I think it is a fallacy to mix levels
like this.  Given that the brain has presumably evolved, then it is
not designed.  It did not suddenly decide that it needed a memory
function so LTP was created.  Instead, higher cognitive function is
the emergent activity of the whole host of complex regulaory pathways
that exist in the brain.  What evolution has done is to increase the
variety of interactions and changes that can occur in the brain in
reponse to the world, which has consequently allowed the development
of more complex higher function.  However, to separate out any
particular mechanism and say 'this celllar process does this cognitive
function' is wrong.




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