Helps process consolidating new memories

On the first round, a computer generated 10 random digits—6 1 9 4 8 5 6 3 7 1—on a screen for 10 seconds.

After the series disappeared, Simon typed them into his computer. In the next phase, 20 digits appeared on the screen for 20 seconds. No one in the audience (mostly professors, graduate students, and undergraduate students) could recall the 20 digits perfectly.

Good encoding techniques include relating new information to what one already knows, forming mental images, and creating associations among information that needs to be remembered.

The process of memory formation is afforded by the ability of the brain to make basic structural changes within the synapses (the junction between neurons)."We demonstrated that this pathway is crucial for the transformation of a recent memory, formed within a day, to a remote memory that still exists at least six weeks later," Tonegawa said.Creating a strain of engineered mice in which a change of diet shuts down trisynaptic circuits, the researchers implanted electrodes that monitored the activities of the animals' hippocampal cells as the animals ran a maze and then slept.Beyond instantaneous encoding of memories, the other processes of memory formation require sleep.Memory stabilization proceeds faster during sleep whether daytime nap or nocturnal sleep.

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