How do we make memories? | Elevator Pitch

published on July 17, 2020

Remember that time when actually no I don't Hey! Hello So you've got a lot to explain in an elevator ride Are you feeling prepared? Are you feeling scared? I'm not afraid of you ha ha ha ha Maybe you should be because I'm your limitation I'm the one that you have to explain everything to No I am not scared All right let's get started

Ha ha ha So what is memory? Well when we think about the brain, the brain actually is consisting of many individual cells that I think of like little train stations Ok All these train stations are connected to each other by tracks right Yep So that's the brain cells connecting to other brain cells by synapses So the tracks are like synaspes And what is the train? So the train is like an

Electrical signal Okay The neurons like bing bing bing bing bing So when we form a memory we take something from our environment and we put it in one of the stations Yeah and then you know you recall that memory when you use that information again Yeah So it's kind of like if you have a really strong memory then that means the connections between two stations are really strong Would smarter people have more of those? So what is thought to happen is that

Some people have more, like stronger connections between many many stations and this enables them to like remember things really quickly Yeah If we stop using those connections they get weaker again So how is a memory actually stored? Like what physically is it? Yeah so there are a lot of theories about that So what we think if there must be some full of physical change in the neurons So like you know something is happening in this train station because

We know that worms can remember They're very quite simple animals, humans can remember So something must be fundamentally changing in these neurons – so that's the brain cells – which is not that difficult Right Yeah so so worms don't have action potential They don't have myelin which insulates the signal from being lost but they can still learn So which implies that something inside the stations are fundamentally similar to humans or other

Mammals We're at the halfway point Oh no! Do you reckon you're halfway through explaining everything that you want to tell me? I think so Yes! Okay, good Let's go! So if they are stored as some kind of biochemical and molecular change then if we figure out what those changes are we

Can just kind of put them back in, into the brains of people who you know have memory problems or you know neuro-degeneration So theoretically if we could find the physical thing that forms a memory we could take it out and transplant it? In theory yes but we're very very far away from doing that So how good is the live imaging that we have with brains? It is good but the

Resolution is not fantastic we don't look at like you know individual brain cells so that's why we use animal models So I used to worm because they are transparent I can look at each of their brain cells individually it's pretty cool, pretty hectic, yeah Oh that's cool man! So we can figure out what those you know physical changes are in the worm and try and translate that to humans So we take a complex problem and we answer it in a simple system Well thank you for

Teaching me about memory My pleasure Bye bye Come back soon Bye! So if I remember correctly the brain is made up of cells called neurons and these are connected via synapses and messages are sent between them through electrical signals and these messages are often memories which are stored within the neurons Now what they actually are physically we don't quite know yet but if we did know we would have a much better grasp on controlling

Memory The problem in this kind of study is that you actually need a living subject because you need to be able to look at whether it remembers something before and after you manipulate it So that's why we look at things like transparent worms where we can actually look at their brains while they're still alive Thank you nature for creating transparent worms! And then scaled that kind of information up to humans and I am so excited about this kind of study

Because we've seen how impactful diseases like Alzheimer's or dementia can be because really our memories are so much of what make us us? Right now here's a memory test for you Do you remember our video on string theory? Well if not here it is right there? You can watch it again and strengthen all those connections in your brain so you'll remember forever Two for one

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