How does the brain make new memories?
Dr Amy Reichelt, Lecturer in Psychology, School of Health and Biomedical Sciences, explains how the brain makes new memories.
How does the brain make new memories? Video transcript 1.57min
DESCRIPTION: This video features a series of live action and animated shots narrated by Dr Amy Reichelt, Lecturer in Psychology, School of Health and Biomedical Sciences.
AUDIO: Ambient music plays throughout.
VISUAL: Amy Reichelt speaks to camera. Throughout the video various animations appear and illustrate the various audio points that she makes.
AMY SPEAKS: Without our memory we wouldn’t know how to ride a bike, the way to our favourite cafe or even the names of our parents.
But how exactly do we turn new information into a lasting memory in that human hard-drive known as the brain?
One theory is a three stage process known as the “multistore model of memory”.
Firstly, paying attention to new information or surroundings is called sensory memory. This only lasts for a split second.
The information is quickly deciphered by the pre-frontal cortex, a part of the brain that is essential for planning your behaviour and deciding which action to take.
It then becomes a short-term memory.
While short-term memory is essential, it never lasts more than a minute or so.
Imagine writing your name in the sand just before a wave washes it away. This is what would happen to your short term memory if it weren’t able to take the next step in its development.
Neurons then fire in the brain, making new physical connections and synapses with each other.
As they build, they also dump the bits of information that we don’t need, like the colour of a door we walked through or if somebody was wearing glasses or not.
The essential stuff then migrates to the brain’s hippocampus. It is there that it becomes a long-term memory.
These memories then put down their roots throughout the cerebral cortex, a part of the brain responsible for the higher order functions that make us human. This process is called cortical integration.
Memories can fluctuate and change depending on our curiosity and the emotions we were feeling when we experience them. Everyone remembers the day they experienced extreme pain or joy but it is more difficult to remember a mundane Tuesday from three years ago.
While we know a great deal more about the brain than we did even 10 years ago, it is still one of the last frontiers of the human body and there is much for neuroscientists to discover.
VISUAL: RMIT Logo appears
AUDIO: Ambient music fades.
[End of Transcript]
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