Pablo Pérez Benítez

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Do memories get lost for ever or just disconnected from brain's recollection system?

Will science be able to locate memory gap zones in the brain? Will nanobots be able to recover our "lost" memories? Do memories degrade with time or just the way we recall them? Is personality just the sum of our memories or is it affected by something else?

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    Mar 29 2011: It is a great question. I think, firstly, we should consider the question "What are memories made of?" Are memories just some proteins expressed and contained in our brain for sometime untill we forget them or they are some kind of connection or linkage between our neurons? I think the latter is true. Memories are not stable unless we connect them to something else which will make the connection "linked" to another memory. Thus, when we recall one thing we also recall another-or part of another- so we strenghten not only the first memory but also the latter and the connection between them.
    Our immune system has a more simple memory than our brain nevertheless it is the fundamental reason we are able to keep the infections from becoming diseases all the time. It is a very rational process and works by the lock&key model with some elaboration. More tight interaction between antigen and antibody results in more growth signals and so the proliferation of that memory B cell clone. Therefore it is the interaction that makes the memory.
    So I think it is hard for any nanobot to download or upload any memory to our brain. If nanobots wereto recover our lost memories they should find a way in which targeting specific neurons increases the strenght of the circuit of the once forgotten memory.
  • Mar 28 2011: Look behind you, to the left, to the right, up, down, and now back at this screen. Then calculate the sum total of all numbers from 1-20 (add up all numbers in your head). Now after reading this, don't look around again, close your eyes, name 100 objects in your room, and remember the whole list.

    The fact is, since we were babies, much of what our brains do is to filter out information not store it. We evolved in an environment that changed too rapidly to have any value in remembering where everything was. Memory mainly works when we repeatedly see something multiple times, then it will become burned into our synapses. When you watch a movie once, and then again at some point years later, you can roughly recall it because the synaptic pathways had already been established.
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      Mar 29 2011: Exactly, when I talk about memories I mean the synaptic paterns that those memories are made from.
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    Mar 28 2011: Hi Pablo,Unless an event makes an impression on us we are unlikely to remember it. Much of what we percieve is such a riot of information that we do not record it unless it reaches a certain threshold. Other times it becomes encoded in the 'file drawer' that is only opened when the same emotion that we are experiencing at that moment reoccurs. For example, when people are depressed they then remember every bad thing that ever happened to them fairly vividly. This is called mood congruent memory. I think when we forget things that we did consciously know they could be misfiled, not encoded in a way that is simliar to our current emotional tone or more often as we age the route to it is blocked by plaques, TIS, or poor cardiovascular heallth.
  • Mar 28 2011: Your mind retains all visual/auditory experiences. So, they aren't lost forever-- but it is virtually impossible to access most of them voluntarily. So, yes, only the recall is affected.
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    Apr 3 2011: Damn it! I can't remember!

    Ok sorry it was there and I had no control over my insanity. On a serious note though, if everything we remember (And a lifetime is a huge amount) is stored then do we really comprehend the vastness of the human brain and mind? I look at the programmes on my desktop sometimes and it takes me a few minutes to realign with them sometimes due to the complexity and number of them. Times that by thousands and the human brain may backfire a little due to lack of exercise in many of us. I can remember some things from when I was two and I am now 55 but some days I have a hard time remembering what the hell I had for lunch yesterday. Not unlike a computer our brain must capture information and keep it there as long as there is no error message, so I would say yes it's there, just sometimes finding those memories can be tricky.
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    Apr 1 2011: Critically speaking, memories never die. Memories are the form of energy and yet it can not be destroyed. Destroying word shouldn't be taken as till we live, but also after death, memories remain with us.Cheers
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    Apr 1 2011: The hypothesis I learned say:

    * Things you learned stay in your memory (so: once remembered, always remembered)... You might have problems retrieving your memory though...
    * not everything that comes into your mind gets remembered.

    * Personality is more than only any one part or aspect... your personality also depends on your body, DNA, and everything that is in your event horizon...
    Personality can get affected by viruses and bacteria for example...
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      Apr 3 2011: I'd rather say once remembered is not always remembered, specially if that memory is not usefull to remember anymore and you tell your brain to repurpose those synaptic paths.
      What we know about our bodies is what our memory has recorded about our perception of our body, the same is true for what may shape our personality from our event horizon. Here I am distinguishing personality from behavior. Personality being a pattern of consistent and regular behaviors that we acquire during our first years of life. Hence, viruses and bacteria may affect our behavior but not our personality. Personality could be affected only if the effects get chronic.
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        Apr 4 2011: That's a strict demarcation, but that might reduce the complexity.

        Ok, so our personality is (mostly) made out of DNA, pre-natal and up to 5 year of enculturation...
        I could agree on that.
        the "mostly" refers to "long term changes later in life"

        I haven't heard about repurpose that makes you forget.. Do you know research pointing in that direction? (It is not impossible, I know about neural plasticity, a lot of monkey and human data suggesting regions getting bigger or using surrounding tissue when getting a lot of training; but effectively -actually- erasing things... )
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    Mar 28 2011: Our willingness allows us to memorize the things and to eliminate them as well. It is upto us to be willing to think about the previous memories or to just don't pay attention to them.

    Cheers