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Technology and Health News > Friday, March-14-2008

The memory is the "cache" of the brain

The procedural memory remains imprinted in the chemical synapses. It is not the merit of a cell constant.

When we drive a car or we tie a shoe knot, we store a series of gestures that are accessed faster and automatically whenever you need that action again. It is the so-called working memory or procedural memory, whose operation resembles that of cache memory of a computer, for example, allows us to more quickly open a website already visited.

A study conducted by Gianluigi Mongillo of French Cnrs research, and Omri Barak and Misha Tsodyks the Weizmann Institute (Israel) would seem to refute the widespread belief that this type of memory is fixed thanks to a number of specific neurons. On the contrary, the procedural memory is recorded at the level of chemical changes in cells that remain after the transition pressure in nervous synapses (points of contact and communication between neurons).

The message is transmitted nervously from one neuron to another through synapses: at this point, the cell "upstream" (presynaptic) issue in the space between the two cells a number of molecules of neurotransmitter (messenger signal nervous) , coming into contact with the cell membrane of the "downstream", causing chemical changes necessary for the transmission of the message. Each pulse involves presynaptic cells in a decrease in the amount of neurotransmitter and an increase in the concentration of calcium ions.

According to Mongillo and his collaborators, these consequences would pressure chemical synapses to become more "strong" and ready for the next stimulus. Different configurations between neurons involved in the cascade of pulses linked to a specific form, act as the basis of the memory, ready to be quickly reused to make a similar action. According to the authors, the advantage of this mechanism is especially significant at the metabolic level: it is in fact a "latent" storage system type, which does not require constant and costly cells, but rather it is activated only when needed.

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