Essay Example on Memory A Century of Consolidation









The memory consolidation theory was proposed nearly a century ago Although the research was presented a number of years ago it still provides the framework for modern research There has been evidence that that new memories strengthen over time and in stages Evidence also showed that cerebral trauma showed a loss of memory to potentially provide an explanation for retrograde amnesia The theory was ignored for 50 years but was considered again in 1949 when electroconvulsive shock produced amnesia in rodents The research done by Hebb and Gerard indicates that there are at least two stages of memory thus protein synthesis is required for long term memory consolidation It was also shown that stimulant drugs that were administered within minutes or hours after training enhances memory consolidation 2 The consolidation theory is still able to guide research today 3 Most research on memory consolidation indicate that memory has a time window of hours after learning However recent evidence has shown that memory may continue for weeks months or years and that they are stages of learning The various stages of consolidation rely on cellular mechanisms and brain systems Such as lesions on the hippocampus impair recently learned information This means that the hippocampus does play a role in consolidating and storing McGaugh s work shows that memories are not created immediately in a lengthy indefinite manner Instead immediately after learning an event the memory is impressionable 

The longer the time is the memory becomes more likely to be resistant to external influences and is stored more permanently memory consolidation There are certain drugs experimented with rodents that after learning an event the drugs can influence the retention of the event Drugs have an interesting effect on memory consolidation For example amphetamine was administered to human participants before or after learning a world list The drug showed that it enhances memory of the words These results indicate that adrenergic systems activate the amygdala Studies have also examined how pictures accompanied by an emotionally arousing story are remembered Subjects who were given a placebo before the pictures were shown remembered but those given an adrenergic receptor antagonist were not enhanced Also PET scans of the amygdala show that long term memory is related with the degree of amygdala activation during original encoding Therefore memory stages are based on a parallel independent process Short term and long term affiliation are not serially linked according to studies of synaptic facilitation 4 McGaugh found that Emotions can influence long term memory People tend to have stronger memories of events that were long ago if they were emotionally arousing in nature than events that were neutral in emotion nature 

This can be seen in participants struggled to remember the word list that had no emotional tinge to it Epinephrine and Norepinephrine stress hormones mediate effects of emotional arousal on retention The two stress hormones activate various brain structures that play a critical role in regulating memory consolidation The amygdala in particular when activated influences other brain structures including hippocampus nucleus accumbens and caudate nucleus that also process a different aspect of memory These brain structures work together to form and store memories Experiments activate the time dependent process that is involved in memory formation The experience initiates the release of stress hormones from the adrenal medulla This activates the release of norepinephrine in the basolateral amygdala Neuroplasticity is affected by the amygdala 5 The conclusions of the article is that memory consolidation is in phases Memory and neuroplasticity show that new memory consolidation into to long term memory is on a time dependent scale However short term and long term stages are not linked as per the dual trace hypothesis Drugs can block either short term or long term memory which means that the memory phases are based on autonomous stages

The article highlights how the author investigates the neurobiological systems that are in control of the emotional aspect of consolidating memories It was found that certain stimulating drugs can intensify memory in rodents when they were given shortly after the training period This indicates that endogenous systems activated by arousal can affect neural process Other research has found that the stress hormones produced by the adrenal medulla can initiate learning experience Research also indicates that the stress hormones can be activated by the amygdala The basolateral nucleus of the amygdala modulates the impact of drugs and hormones The amygdala is able to modulate by projections to the brain region by using various aspects of memory 6 The exact nature of memory storage is still unknown It would be interesting to explore this question to find out how memories are stored Also does the hippocampus retain older memories If the hippocampus were to retain memories for years and then move on to another region then could there be more to memory than a simple consolidation theory

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