Memory - Creating Memories

Doctor Josh Dubnau explains that memories result from rapid changes in the connections in a huge network of neurons. We do not know, however, the precise mechanism driving these changes.

The question of how memories are created is probably the trickiest question of all. The shortest answer is we don’t know, and that’s why there is so much intense research by a large number of scientists all around the globe, using different experimental approaches and different animals to ask that question. So, the answer you’ll get to the question of how memories are created is going to depend on what level of detail you want in such an answer. On some level we understand (or at least we believe we understand) that information is stored in brains, information meaning memories of our past experiences – that those memories are stored in brains by the brain’s ability to dynamically and rapidly alter the number and strength of connections amongst the huge network of neurons that makes up the brain. And we understand a lot about how neurons, or relatively a lot, about how neurons do that. But when one asks how memories are created, one means that how is it that if I say to you ‘remember the first time you drove a car,’ you immediately recall a very rich experience that includes what kind of car it was, who was with you, what period in your life, what else was going on in your life at that time, where in the world you were, what the traffic patterns were, and you can immediately start to bring in other aspects of that. Maybe you were in high school and you remembered the stress of your upcoming applications for college, and you can immediately connect all of these events. We don’t really have a clue in any deep mechanistic sense, how that level of memory really works.

memory, creation, experience, brain, neuron, connection, connections, josh, dubnau, cshl

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1428. Genes for Memory

Doctor Josh Dubnau explains that genes are responsible for memory in that they contain the raw instructions for memory. Experience determines how these instructions are assembled.

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1430. Signaling Networks

Doctor Josh Dubnau explains that the function of signaling networks is to receive signals from outside the cell, and transmit that information into the cell, in some cases to the nucleus.

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1437. The Shibire Experiment

Doctor Josh Dubnau describes how he and his colleagues at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory devised an experiment that dissociated the encoding and retrieval of memory in fruit flies.

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1436. Disentangling Encoding and Retrieval

Doctor Josh Dubnau explains that memories may be present (encoded) but not accessible (retrievable). Scientists have devised a number of experiments for teasing apart encoding from retrieval.

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1439. Biochemicals - Excitation and Inhibition

Doctor Josh Dubnau explains that the genes active in different neurons can make them excitatory (e.g. glutamate) or inhibitory (e.g. GABA). These neurotransmitters are critical to learning.

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1431. CAMP Signaling Network

Doctor Josh Dubnau explains that the cyclic AMP (cAMP) signaling network can receive signals from outside the cell and use the signal to alter the function of the cell.

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1438. Gene Expression

Doctor Josh Dubnau explains that some genes are preferentially active in one part of the brain or body, while other genes are particular active in another location.

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1435. Mutant Screens

Doctor Josh Dubnau explains that mutant screens generate a large panel of mutant animals that average a mutation in one gene. Each animal is then tested for a particular characteristic.

  • ID: 1435
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1432. Stages of Memory

Doctor Josh Dubnau explains that memories seem to be formed in different stages that evolve over time. These include acquisition, short-term storage, and consolidation.

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1721. 3D Gene Expression

Like all brains, insect brains have different structures that accomplish specific tasks. Dr. Josh Dubnau introduces a technique for examining gene expression in the brains of fruit flies.

  • ID: 1721
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