How does it work, exactly?
Listverse has posted a pretty awesome list of 10 Things That Can Influence Our Memory, which explains to us?
Just exactly that:
[via Listverse]10 Things That Can Influence Our Memory ~by Alan Boyle
When we experience something, there’s a variety of different factors which determine how well we’ll remember it—and how we’ll feel about it later on. Science has tasked itself with exploring the things which make our memory tick. Here are ten ways you can manipulate this fundamental part of your mind:
Sounds During Sleep Reinforce Memories
Scientists have found that memories associated with sound can be reinforced by playing those sounds softly to people while they sleep. In one study, participants played a Guitar Hero-like game. They learned two tunes, then had a nap. While they were in deep sleep, one of the tunes played softly in their ears. And when the participants awoke, the tune that they’d heard while sleeping was the one they were better at playing from memory.
In a similar study by the same researchers, participants were asked to remember random locations of images on a screen, each of which was associated with a sound. When one particular sound was played to them during sleep, they were more likely to remember the original location of the matching object.
The scientists involved believe that we use our sleep to process and consolidate our memories. By associating a memory with a sound, we encourage our brain to absorb this particular memory while we’re asleep, rather than losing it among the countless other minor events from the day.
The jury’s out on what practical use this might have—but it at least suggests that we may be able to influence what we remember, with the help of a carefully chosen sound track.
Distractions (When You’re Old)
As we get older, we tend to become more forgetful. Scientists have found that a distraction related to what you want to remember can be extremely helpful for older people. They conducted an experiment in which they asked two groups of people—one of them aged seventeen to twenty-seven, and the other aged sixty to seventy-eight—to study and recall a list of words. They sprung a surprise second test on each group after an unrelated picture exercise.
During the dummy picture exercise, some people in each group were exposed to background reminders of some of the words from the first test. There was a thirty percent memory improvement in those who had been prey to these —but remarkably, only among the older group. There was no difference at all in the younger group. This suggests that keeping ourselves surrounded by reminders—even if we don’t take them in consciously—can help with recall in old age.
We Can Practice Forgetting
Research by psychologist Gerd Thomas Waldhauser has shown that humans can train themselves to deliberately forget information. Using EEG scans, he has shown that the same part of the brain we would use to restrain a motor impulse—such as to stop ourselves from catching an object—is also activated when people suppress a memory. His studies show that we can learn how to control this natural suppression—allowing us, theoretically, to forget whatever we want to forget.
Waldhauser is keen to point out, however, that only neutral memories have so far been forgotten in this way. But he speculates that—were the technique to be developed further—it may be possible to forget even our worst memories. This would be immensely helpful to trauma victims, and those with chronic mental health issues such as depression.
Diet Impacts Your Memory
As if we needed another reason to eat healthy food, science has found one. It turns out that a diet high in fructose or saturated fat can hamper our ability to learn and retain information. A poor diet can reduce the levels of a chemical known as DHA in your brain; and it just so happens that DHA is very important in forming memories.
High levels of saturated fat have also been linked to brain inflammation, which can cause memory loss. Increasing your intake of Omega 3 seems to be one of the best ways to counteract that, since it replenishes DHA—but reducing the amount of fatty foods in your diet will benefit the rest of your organs as well.
It might not be necessary to cut out all sweets just yet, however; some research has suggested that chocolate may be good for your brain, and your ability to remember things.
…[Read More - See All '10 Things That can Influence Your Memory' HERE!]
No where in that list, when discussing what influences/reinforces memory, did I see any mention of keeping one’s head.
As odd as it may seem, at least when discussing THIS (below) creature…
Keeping one’s head attached to one’s body is not a necessity of retaining one’s memories.
Freaky, but true!
[via National Geographic]Decapitated Worms Regrow Heads, Keep Old Memories ~by Carrie Arnold
Michael Levin and Tal Shomrat, biologists at Tufts University, have been studying how animals store and process information, whether it’s memories in the brain or the blueprint for developing organs in the body.
The team turned to flatworms because, despite their relative simplicity, they have many of the same organs and body organization as people: a brain and nervous system, bilateral symmetry, and even some of the same behaviors.
Flatworms “also have many of the same neurotransmitters as we do, and have been shown in older studies to remember complex tasks,” Levin said. (Read more about memory in National Geographic magazine.)
Yet unlike people, these worms have a remarkable ability to regenerate organs and body parts, including their brains—making them perfect research subjects.
In the Spotlight
Planarian flatworms are a hugely diverse array of small non-parasitic worms found in both freshwater and saltwater environments.
They have primitive eyes that can detect light, which they generally avoid—being in light makes them more obvious to predators.
To train the worms that lighted areas were safe and contained food, the researchers used a computerized device to continually track the worms’ behavior, providing rewards when a worm ventured into the bright spots and punishments when it remained in the dark.
“We used this device to get worms used to a dish with a peculiar laser-etched surface. When they remember this surface, they will rapidly approach a piece of liver to eat it, as opposed to spending much time circling around the dish to get the lay of the land,” Levin said.
Off With Their Heads
After the team verified that the worms had memorized where to find food, they chopped off the worms’ heads and let them regrow, which took two weeks.
Then the team showed the worms with the regrown heads where to find food, essentially a refresher course of their light training before decapitation.
Subsequent experiments showed that the worms remembered where the light spot was, that it was safe, and that food could be found there. The worms’ memories were just as accurate as those worms who had never lost their heads. (Test your memory with a National Geographic game.)
Memory Beyond the Brain
The obvious question remains: How can a worm remember things after losing its head?
“We have no idea,” Levin admitted. “What we do know is that memory can be stored outside the brain—presumably in other body cells—so that [memories] can get imprinted onto the new brain as it regenerates.”
Researchers have long confined their investigations of memory and learning to the brain, Levin said, but these results may encourage them to look elsewhere. (Read about a tadpole that can see through an eye implanted on its tail.)
“We’ve established a new model system in which our future work will be able to figure out how memories get encoded and decoded to and from living tissues.”
Science isn’t sure how the head regrowth/retaining one’s memories works…
But they are definitely interested.
And because they are?
Why am I feeling distinctively uncomfortable thinking of all the “research” science could come up with…
With this in mind.
And before you tell me NOT to get too paranoid, and that there is no way science would ever be so bold as to try to pull this very thing off…
Regrowing a human?
Oh, let me point THIS (below) out:
[via HuffPo]Human Head Transplants Now Possible, Italian Neuroscientist Says ~by the Huffington Post
In a provocative new paper, an Italian neuroscientist outlines how to perform a complete human head transplant, arguing that such a surgical procedure is now within the realm of possibility.
Switching heads sounds pretty “Frankenstein,” for sure. But for decades researchers have been trying the procedure on animals. In 1970, the first head “linkage” was achieved in a monkey. But no one knew how to hook up the transplanted head to the spinal cord.
Now Dr. Sergio Canavero of the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group says he knows how to solve that problem.
“The greatest technical hurdle to such endeavor is of course the reconnection of the donor’s and recipient’s spinal cords,” Dr. Canavero wrote in the paper. “It is my contention that the technology only now exists for such linkage. This paper sketches out a possible human scenario and outlines the technology to reconnect the severed cord (project GEMINI).”
Obviously science is so bold as to go one way with science…
(Using the head tossing the body)
Why not the other?
(Using the body, regrowing the head)
But its all of a piece, wouldn’t you agree?
A scary monster, Frankenstein-like piece, playing with parts.