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MIT discovers the location of memories: Individual neurons. Update 12/2/15: We’ve now followed up on this story: The more we learn about memory, the weirder it gets.

MIT discovers the location of memories: Individual neurons

The original continues below. MIT researchers have shown, for the first time ever, that memories are stored in specific brain cells. By triggering a small cluster of neurons, the researchers were able to force the subject to recall a specific memory. Cognitive Atlas. Brain Structures and Their Functions. The nervous system is your body's decision and communication center.

Brain Structures and Their Functions

The central nervous system (CNS) is made of the brain and the spinal cord and the peripheral nervous system (PNS) is made of nerves. Together they control every part of your daily life, from breathing and blinking to helping you memorize facts for a test. Nerves reach from your brain to your face, ears, eyes, nose, and spinal cord... and from the spinal cord to the rest of your body. Sensory nerves gather information from the environment, send that info to the spinal cord, which then speed the message to the brain. The brain then makes sense of that message and fires off a response.

Mirror neurons

Nuerobiology. Researchers May Have Discovered The Consciousness On/Off Switch. Researchers from the George Washington University have managed to switch consciousness on and off in an epileptic woman by stimulating a single region of the brain with electrical impulses.

Researchers May Have Discovered The Consciousness On/Off Switch

While this is a single case study, it provides an exciting insight into the neural mechanisms behind consciousness, a subject of great interest that is poorly understood despite decades of research. The study has been published in Epilepsy & Behavior. Consciousness is a fascinating topic that has both intrigued and puzzled scientists and philosophers for centuries. Despite significant advances in our understanding of the brain, little is known about the neural networks that underpin consciousness. However, research has hinted that consciousness is likely the result of an integration of activity from numerous different areas of the brain, marrying all of our perceptions together into one experience.

Now, in the latest study, researchers demonstrate that their hypothesis might be correct after all. The Philosophy of Neuroscience. First published Mon Jun 7, 1999; substantive revision Tue May 25, 2010 Over the past three decades, philosophy of science has grown increasingly “local.”

The Philosophy of Neuroscience

Concerns have switched from general features of scientific practice to concepts, issues, and puzzles specific to particular disciplines. Philosophy of neuroscience is a natural result. This emerging area was also spurred by remarkable recent growth in the neurosciences. Cognitive and computational neuroscience continues to encroach upon issues traditionally addressed within the humanities, including the nature of consciousness, action, knowledge, and normativity.

The literature distinguishes “philosophy of neuroscience” and “neurophilosophy.” 1. Contrary to some opinion, actual neuroscientific discoveries have exerted little influence on the details of materialist philosophies of mind. The apology for this lacuna by early identity theorists was that neuroscience at that time was too nascent to provide any plausible identities. 2. Synesthesia — secret passageways in the mansion of memory? – Neurologism. This post is a slightly modified version of my answer to a Quora question: Is there a link between synesthetia and involuntary memory?

Synesthesia — secret passageways in the mansion of memory? – Neurologism

This is a very interesting question. I can add some neuroscientific flesh to the skeleton you have already laid out. Involuntary memory seems to involve the ability for memories to be accessed via sensory “triggers”. This may occur via a proposed neural mechanism called Hebbian learning. So to use Proust’s famous example from In Search of Lost Time, let’s say you are eating a piece of cake at teatime in your aunt’s house. So after this kind of learning, whenever you taste that particular kind of cake, neuron A will cause neuron B to fire, eliciting a memory of your aunt. And this may help us figure out how synesthesia can help with memory.

The more connections there are, the more opportunities for Hebbian learning. The memory system may be like a labyrinthine mansion. There are documented cases of synesthesia co-occurring with exceptional memory: Like this:


THE BRAIN FROM TOP TO BOTTOM. Brain Structures and Their Functions.  Mapping the human brain connectivity. Real-time brain feedback can help people overcome anxiety. This image from the study shows changes in degree of connectivity in the feedback group.

Real-time brain feedback can help people overcome anxiety

Increases are shown in red/yellow and decreases in blue/purple. Decreases in connectivity are seen in limbic areas, and increases are seen in prefrontal regions. (Credit: D Scheinost et al. /Yale University) People provided with a real-time readout of activity in specific regions of their brains can learn to control that activity and lessen their anxiety, say Yale researchers. They used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), to display the activity of the orbitofrontal cortex (a brain region just above the eyes) to subjects while they lay in a brain scanner. Through a process of trial and error, these subjects were gradually able to learn to control their brain activity. Extreme anxiety associated with worries about dirt and germs is characteristic of many patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

BrainVISA/Anatomist Home Page. World's most detailed scans will reveal how brain works. 5 March 2013Last updated at 13:27 ET By Pallab Ghosh Science correspondent, BBC News Continue reading the main story.

World's most detailed scans will reveal how brain works