Wondering Why it is Difficult to Let Go of Memories? Science May Have an Answer

Representative photo. Credit: Canva

Representative photo. Credit: Canva

A major finding has now been made in the area by England’s University of Bristol that may begin to answer our questions about memories.

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  • Last Updated: September 9, 2020, 4:50 PM IST


Memories are an essential part of the development of a human being. The reminders of certain incidents shape our understanding of the world. For a long time, scientists have been curious to know the process that guides storage of information with clarity and for long periods.

A major finding has now been made in the area by England’s University of Bristol that may begin to answer our questions about memories, reported EurekAlert.

As per the report, the study which has been published in Nature Communications says that a new mechanism in the brain has been discovered which ensures that the memories remain untouched. It makes sure that they do not get mixed with each other and remain stabilised.

When the connections between neighbouring nerve cells become stronger, memories are formed. The formation of memories has been linked to the changes in the connection that excite nerve cells in the hippocampus. The part is known to play a crucial role in the formation of memory.

To ensure healthy function of the brain, the connections that excite nerve cells must be balanced with inhibitory connections. Researchers have found that these inhibitory connections between nerve cells can also be strengthened.

The new findings show that just like excitatory connections, inhibitory connections can also increase their strength.

The team of scientists collaborated with the computational neuroscientists at Imperial College London. They created a computational model which shows that it is the inhibitory connections that stabilise changes to excitatory connections. This process prevents new information from disrupting existing memories.

Reacting to the relevance of this new finding, the first author of this study, Dr Matt Udakis, a research associate at the University of Bristol, said that the team is very excited about their discovery.

He said, “It provides an explanation for what we all know to be true; that memories do not disappear as soon as we encounter a new experience. These new findings will help us understand why that is,” reported EurekAlert.

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