Memories – how you form, retrieve and alter memories

February 1, 2023

Memories are formed through a complex process involving various regions of the brain and various neurochemical changes. It is a process that allows us to store information about our experiences, retain it over time, and recall it when necessary.

The process of forming a new memory starts with encoding of information in the hippocampus. The hippocampus is a region of the brain involved in formation of new memories. This information is then transferred to the cortex. The cortex consolidates and stores what you would call long-term memories.

Consolidation requires strengthening of neural connections and modification of synapses, which are the structures that allow neurons to communicate with one another. This strengthening is thought to be dependent on the release of various neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and norepinephrine, and the activation of signaling pathways within the brain.

Once the memory is consolidated, it can be retrieved or resurfaced through the process of recall. This is when the brain activates the neurons that were involved in the original encoding of the memory, allowing the person to access and retrieve the stored information. The strength of the memory and the ease with which it is retrieved can depend on a variety of factors, such as the emotional state of the individual at the time of recall and the amount of attention that was paid to the information when it was first encoded.Too many of us believe that once we begin to lose our memory, it is a one way street. In fact, the more you use your memory, the better it will get.

One important factor that affects the retrieval of memories is the process of reconsolidation, which occurs when a memory is retrieved and modified in some way. For example, if a person recalls a traumatic memory, the memory can be altered to become less distressing through therapy or other methods. This process requires the memory to be temporarily destabilised and then re-stabilized, with the modifications integrated into the new version of the memory. Too many of us suffer from the trauma of past experiences. In fact, you can rewrite your story in your head. Remember, what you recall is the only truth.

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