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Thoughts,Consciousness and

Memory
Jorge de Vera
Referrence: Cerebral Cortex, Intellectual Functions of the
Brain, Learning and Memory, Chapter 57, Guyton and Hall
Textbook of Medical Physiology, 12th Edition

Each thought certainly involves simultaneous signals in


many portions of the cerebral cortex, thalamus, limbic
system, and reticular formation of the brain stem.

DEFINITION OF THOUGHT IN TERMS OF NEURAL


ACTIVITY/HOLISTIC THEORY OF THOUGHTS :
A thought results from a pattern of stimulation of
many parts of the nervous system at the same time,
probably involving most importantly the CEREBRAL
CORTEX, THALAMUS, LIMBIC SYSTEM, AND UPPER
RETICULAR FORMATION OF THE BRAIN STEM.

DEFINITION:
Consciousness can perhaps be described as our
continuing stream of awareness of either our
surroundings or our sequential thoughts.

MEMORY
Memories are stored in the brain by changing the basic
sensitivity of synaptic transmission between neurons as
a result of previous neural activity.
new or facilitated pathways are called MEMORY
TRACES.
LONG-TERM MEMORIES RESULT FROM CHANGED
SYNAPTIC CONDUCTION IN LOWER BRAIN
CENTERS.

Positive and Negative MemorySensitization


or Habituation of Synaptic Transmission.
NEGATIVE

POSITIVE

INHIBITION OF
SYNAPTIC PATHWAY

FACILITATION OF
SYNAPTIC PATHWAY

HABITUATION

MEMORY
SENSITIZATION

Classification of Memories.
SHORT-TERM MEMORY
-memories that last for seconds or at most minutes
unless they are converted into longer-term memories.
INTERMEDIATE LONG-TERM MEMORIES
- which last for days to weeks but then fade away.
LONG-TERM MEMORY
- once stored, can be recalled up to years or even a
lifetime later.

CLASSIFIED ACCORDING TO THE TYPE OF INFORMATION THAT IS


STORED:

1. DECLARATIVE MEMORY
-memory of an important experience:
memory of the surroundings
memory of time relationships
memory of causes of the experience
memory of the meaning of the experience
memory of ones deductions that were left in the persons mind

2. Skill Memory
-frequently associated with motor activities of the
persons body
all the skills develop for hitting a tennis ball including
automatic memories

SHORT-TERM MEMORY
THEORIES:
CIRCUIT OF REVERBERATING NEURONS

PRESYNAPTIC FACILITATION OR
INHIBITION.
SYNAPSES AT TERMINAL NERVE
FIBRILS
NEUROTRANSMITTER CHEMICALS ARE
SECRETED
FACILITATION OR INHIBITION

Fig. 18-3 - A reverberating circuit:


Neuron A excites B and vice versa.
(Kandel, ER, JH Schwartz and TM
Jessell (2000)Principles of Neural
Science. New York: McGraw-Hill.)

SHORT TERM MEMORY

INTERMEDIATE LONG-TERM
MEMORY
Last for many minutes or even weeks.
They will eventually be lost unless the memory traces are ACTIVATED
enough to become more permanent= LONG-TERM MEMORY.
Experiments in primitive animals have demonstrated that memories
of the intermediate long-term type can result from :
1.Temporary chemical changes
2.Temporary physical changes
3.Both
- in either the synapse presynaptic terminals or the synapse
postsynaptic membrane.

CHEMICAL CHANGES
IN THE PRESYNAPTIC
TERMINAL OR
POSTSYNAPTIC
NEURONAL
Memories
lasting from a few minutes up to 3
MEMBRANE
weeks in the large snail APLYSIA.

One terminal is from a sensory input neuron


and terminate directly on the surface of the
neuron that is to be stimulated; this is called
the SENSORY TERMINAL.
The other terminal is a presynaptic ending
that lies on the surface of the sensory
terminal, and it is called the FACILITATOR
TERMINAL.
TWO PATHWAYS:
1. Habituation
2. Facilitation

Long-Term Memory
long-term memory is generally believed to result from
actual structural changes, instead of only chemical
changes, at the synapses, and these enhance or
suppress signal conduction.

Structural Changes Occur in Synapses During


the Development of Long-Term Memory:
The structural changes will not occur if a drug is given
that blocks DNA stimulation of protein replication in the
presynaptic neuron.
the structural capability of synapses to transmit signals
appears to increase during establishment of true longterm memory traces.

-the most important of the physical structural changes


that occur are the following:
1. Increase in vesicle release sites for secretion of
transmitter substance
2. Increase in number of transmitter vesicles released
3. Increase in number of presynaptic terminals
4. Changes in structures of the dendritic spines that
permit transmission of stronger signal.

CONSOLIDATION OF MEMORY
SHORT-TERM MEMORY
GENERAL
ANESTHESIA

BRAIN
CONTUSION

Must be CONSOLIDATED
(activated repeatedly)

initiate chemical, physical, and


anatomical changes in the synapses

BRAIN
CONCUSSIO
N

LONG-TERM TYPE OF MEMORY


5 to 10 minutes for MINIMAL CONSOLIDATION
1 hour or more for STRONG CONSOLIDATION
BLOCKS THE DYNAMIC FUNCTION OF THE BRAIN CAN PREVENT

Consolidation Memory
Consolidation of Memory
consolidated
the short-term memory if activated repeatedly will
initiate chemical, physical, and anatomical changes
in the synapses that are responsible for the long-term
type of memory
Consolidation and the time required for it to occur can
probably be explained by the phenomenon of
rehearsal of the short-term memory

REHEARSAL ENHANCES THE TRANSFERENCE OF


SHORTTERM MEMORY INTO LONG-TERM MEMORY
Rehearsal of the same information again and again in the mind
accelerates and potentiates the degree of transfer of short-term
memory into long-term memory and therefore accelerates and
enhances consolidation.
Therefore, over a period of time, the important features of
sensory experience become progressively more and more fixed in
the memory stores. This explains why a person can remember
small amounts of information studied in depth far better than
large amounts of information studied only superficially.
It also explains why a person who is wide awake can consolidate
memories far better than a person who is in a state of mental
fatigue.

NEW MEMORIES ARE CODIFIED DURING


CONSOLIDATION
One of the most important features of consolidation is
that new memories are codified into different classes of
information.
The new and old are compared for similarities and
differences.
store the information about these similarities and
differences, rather than to store the new information
unprocessed.

ROLE OF SPECIFIC PARTS OF THE BRAIN


IN THE MEMORY PROCESS
Hippocampus Promotes Storage of Memories
The hippocampus is the most medial portion of the
temporal lobe cortex, where it folds first medially
underneath the brain and then upward into the lower,
inside surface of the lateral ventricle.

ANTEROGRADE AMNESIA.
unable to establish new long-term memories of those types of information that
are the basis of intelligence.
two hippocampi have been removed for the treatment of epilepsy in a few
patients
procedure does not seriously affect the persons memory for information stored in
the brain before removal of the hippocampi.
AFTER REMOVAL
no capability for storing verbal and symbolic types of memories in long-term
memory, or even in intermediate memory lasting longer than a few minutes.

WHY ARE THE HIPPOCAMPI SO IMPORTANT IN


HELPING THE BRAIN TO STORE NEW MEMORIES?
-hippocampi are among the most important output
pathways from the reward and punishment areas
of the limbic system.
Among these motivations is the drive in the brain to
remember those experiences and thoughts that are
either pleasant or unpleasant.
THE DORSAL MEDIAL NUCLEI OF THE THALAMUSmaking the decision about which of our thoughts

Retrograde Amnesia
-Inability to recall Memories from the past
the degree of amnesia for recent events is likely to be
much greater than for events of the distant past
distant memories have been rehearsed so many times
that the memory traces are deeply engrained, and
elements of these memories are stored in widespread
areas of the brain.

hippocampal lesions can cause anterograde and


retrograde amnesias or can be both.
damage in some thalamic areas- retrograde amnesia
without causing significant anterograde amnesia.

HIPPOCAMPI ARE NOT IMPORTANT IN REFLEXIVE


LEARNING
hippocampal lesions usually do not have difficulty in
learning physical skills that do not involve verbalization
or symbolic types of intelligence.
Can still perform physical skills

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