Tuesday, January 26, 2016

You do TOO have a great memory

Researchers at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, CA, have taken a hard look at neural connections in the brain and concluded that each of us has the memory capacity of the entire World Wide Web (a petabyte).

They described the revelation as "a real bombshell."

Stay with me here. Memories and thoughts come from electrical and chemical activity in the brain. Branches of cells called neurons interact at certain junctions called synapses. An output wire called an axon from one neuron connects to the input wire called a dendrite of another neuron. Each neuron can have thousands of these connections at once.

In building a model of this, the Salk people found that a single axon formed two synapses sometimes, reaching out to a single dendrite. This seemed to mean it was sending a duplicate message.

In measuring the two synapses from one axon, they found them to be slightly different, with some 8% larger.

This turned out to mean that there were many more sizes of synapses than always thought. They synapses also changed size depending on the info being transmitted.

And THIS resulted in orders of magnitude more memory capacity or thought capacity.

Neat?

You know what I always want to know--How does some goo in your head somehow retain a visual picture or complete memory of something from decades before?

I like the term miracle--but I guess the Salk people would prefer "good engineering."

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