The Depths of Memory

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Memory has always amazed me. It is incredible how memories are stored and saved over time. Whenever I start to ponder this phenomenon, how memories are stored, I can't help but get the image of Dumbledore's pensieve from the Harry Potter series. When I read about the hippocampus in the third chapter, I was instantly drawn in.

I always thought that taxi drivers just studied maps all the time...It hadn't occurred to me that their brains could actually be proportioned differently. However, it is still inconclusive as to if their time and experience driving causes the enlarged hippocampi or if those with larger hippocampi naturally fall to the taxi driving profession because it is a natural "talent."

Another aspect of memory that has always intrigued me is short term memory loss. When I was reading about the hippocampus, I was under the impression that it was only in charge of one's spatial memory, or remembering where things are around them in their environment. However, damage to the hippocampus can result in inabilities to form new memories. I first became interested in this concept when I saw the movie, "50 First Dates," where there is a woman who suffered an accident and from then on could not form new memories: she relived the same date for the rest of her life. In this movie, there is a man named Tom who has a short term memory of 10 seconds. Here is a link to a short clip showing his condition:

However, the text doesn't explicitly say that this is the cause of short term memory. One hypothesis stated that the hippocampus stores memories briefly before they are transferred to the cortex to be stored permanently. In this case, it could be the cause to short term memory loss. However, another hypothesis says that memories are directly stored in the cortex and merely strengthen over time. This hypothesis does not suggest that damage to the hippocampus results in short term memory loss. Therefore, I do not yet have a clear answer to my ever-growing interest in memory, and short term memory loss, but I am excited to learn further and hopefully get my questions answered.


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50 First Dates was a charming film. I didn't think the premise would work, but it did. If I ever organize a Psy 1001 Film Festival of films about psychology, that would definitely be on the list!

You can look forward to learning more about memory and the role of the hippocampus in just a couple weeks!

Next time, btw, I encourage you to embed the video directly in your post. YouTube makes it easy. In the Share option, find the embed code. Just copy and paste that into your post, and your readers will have a direct link.

Thanks Kate for you help comment about video links. Know the clip well. Perhaps the closest depiction in the movie of what short term memory loss is really like.

Great questions Rachel, you are already thinking on a high level which should give you a head start when we go over memory in the coming weeks.

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This page contains a single entry by nyckl008 published on October 1, 2011 5:20 PM.

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