A new research has revealed a clearer understanding on the brain's ability to store memories, how it manages its storage capacity and keeping the memories a separate element. You can think about your brain as a computer with a storage capacity to keep some memories and one that processes information and store them. The researchers were curious how the brain is able to do its functional activities of storing countless memories and letting us remember them even for a long time, without mixing the events altogether.
There were prolific researchers who studied rats and their ability to retain their memories distinct but almost the same locations. The outcome of the clinical trial was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, where it was revealed that the brain has a small brain cell networks that create memories and store them in a brain structure called the hippocampus.
A background of the hippocampus
The hippocampus is an area of the brain that plays a major role in short term and long term memory functions. It forms part of the brain's limbic system that is responsible for our emotion. The vital role of the hippocampus is to process, form, organize and store memories in the brain. Our brain has two hippocampus, one for each side of the brain. Damage to both can result in anterograde amnesia while damage on either one will not cause significant effects to memory.
The revelation of the research study
There were seven rats used in the laboratory test. These rats were made to run around 11 similar but distinct places within two days. They were prodded to roam around to pursue chocolate crumbs as bait. Throughout the activities, the brain cell activities in the rats were recorded, particularly in the hippocampus area of the brain. It appears that the rats' brains manage to create its own map for every place that they went into and created its own independent memory of it when finding its way around the place.
The specific brain cell being monitored are the CA3 place cells in the hippocampus and the study showed some of its unique activities, such as the representation of each environment that the rat has been exposed into. These representations created in the brain cells create a firing pattern that is usually reactivated whenever the rat becomes exposed to a similar place the second time. It also appears that each memory is totally independent from one another and does not seem to overlap other events and memories stored in the brain.
The huge storage capacity of the brain
The researchers concluded that the brain has a massive storage capacity with the ability to create a map of memories that is distinct from others. This explains why we can recall one memory from the others, even if they appear to be similar with other events. The enormous storage capacity of the brain can amazingly store each and every memory or event without mixing them up.
Another amazing revelation is that the brain can actually connect certain events from one after another and allowing you to remember certain places well even if you only get to see it once. The brain has the capacity to associate memories, too, and to mentally recall every event in the past without so much difficulty. Every place, every event, and every memory are stored separately in the brain, creating its own map and storage memory for each that prevents us to mix certain events. That is how our brain is powerful where every tiny brain cell has the a large capacity to store memory and events without any limits.