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

Khalid Akbar khalid at homechoice.co.uk
Wed Apr 17 07:52:33 EST 2002


mat wrote:

>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.
>  
>
I dont know much about this ... but aftersome thought I would have 
thought that the protein structure attached to the DNA in the nucleus of 
our cells would be affected, in that they would store 
aspects/properties  of our experience. So when sufficient neuclei (or 
whatever) store enough info to withhold a snapshot of our experience 
(something akin to taking a picture), these experiences could then be 
stimulated to result in recall i.e memory. Furthermore I would have 
thought certain types of cells would be more sensitive to being affected 
in this way then others.

Hence, possibly, when you look at a person, you can tell the type of 
life they have lead ... since the cell structure stores this info and 
this will inevitably be reflected in the individuals characteristics.

But then again I may be completely wrong !




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