The Science Of Memory

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The memories that concern us in everyday life, whether they are implicit memories or explicit memories are far removed from nerve cells, just as our everyday world of cars, food, and people is far removed from the atoms that make them up.

Nerve Cells

Activity is electrical, by releasing chemicals, nerve cells communicate with each other. This chemical release is a heritage of our past. When our ancestors were all just single cells, the only way to communicate was by releasing chemicals into primordial oceans.

Later, as groups of multiple cells organized into primitive animals, the easiest way for cells to get messages across to one another was still to put out chemicals into the fluid that bathed them all. It appears that they adopted this existing transmission system for their own use, when nerve cells developed.

Neurotransmitter

In some cases, these chemicals have maintained some of the functions that they once had. In others, the functions have been customized beyond recognition. For instance, the chemical people commonly know as adrenaline is actually a neurotransmitter as well. But it can get released into the blood when a special gland, the adrenal gland, gets stimulated.

Adrenaline signals all the cells of the body to get ready for an emergency. It forces sugar into muscle cells, and slows down the digestive system. But adrenaline also operates deep within the brain, in the links between some sets of nerve cells. Memory at the nerve cell level is thought to involve changes in the strengths of links between nerve cells.

These changes can be both raises and reduces in the strength of links. Since neurotransmitters are the major way nerve cells communicate from one to another, changes in the way neurotransmitters are released, and changes in tie way neurotransmitters are received or interpreted by the nerve cell at the other end, must clearly be significant in the formation of memory.

However, because we are concerned with the memories that come into our conscious experience, it is significant to place our current knowledge of “memory” at the nerve cell level in the proper context.

The memories that we are conscious of are not discrete files or pages inside our heads. Instead, they are a product of the electrical activity of an enormous number of nerve cells and nerve cell endings.

Some of these nerve cells and nerve cell endings are probably clustered together, and we identify them as specific regions of the brain. Other nerve cells involved in what we feel are a single memory probably are scattered extensively all over the brain. The firing of the nerve cells is also almost certainly spread out over time, as well.

A single nerve cell takes about one-thousandth of a second to fire. However, the memories we see with methods such as direct electrical recording seem to occupy a period of time at least two hundred times longer than this.

Food Allergies May Cause Forgetfulness

Food allergies or sensitivities can trigger brain fog and forgetfulness in a number of ways. A food particle may leak from the digestive system into the bloodstream without being fully digested, and the immune system sees this risk-free food particle as a potential intruder.

White blood cells, blood vessels, and even distant organs, such as the adrenal glands, react to the interruption by releasing a torrent of biochemical’s, including histamines, which create allergic symptoms. An allergic reaction and its brain symptoms can occur within minutes or hours of eating the offending food, as the chemicals build up in the brain and cause inflammation.

Allergies to foods can trigger a variety of other symptoms, such as headache, diarrhea, sinus congestion, runny nose, cramping, and skin eruptions. Lesser known reactions include edema, anxiety, fatigue, mood swings, joint pain, irritable bowel syndrome, sore throat, heart palpitations, and migraine. Many people who have food allergies can eat the food to which they are allergic, but no more than once every three days this is called a rotation diet

Posted in: Memory Management

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