Thursday, January 26, 2012

Basic Primer on Brain Memory

The prefrontal cortex is the chief executive of our brain. It plans complex actions, helps us make decisions, predicts what’s about to happen and applies breaks to bad behavior. Part of this region is in charge of working memory, a kind of mental sketchpad.

The dorsolateral section is thought to be the engine of memory suppression, a type of willful forgetting.

The left inferior prefrontal cortex processes information deeply and helps make emotional memories stick in your mind.

The parietal cortex covers the parietal lobe, a large section of the brain. Parts of it map the position of the body in space and the whereabouts of nearby objects. Other sections help us remember. A brain wave detected over this area shrinks when a person forgets.

Sensory information—sights and sounds—form the raw material for memory.

The visual cortex handles basic information about the orientation and color of objects. It also helps us perceive depth, lighting and texture. When someone shuts a memory out of consciousness, the visual cortex quiets down, as if the brain is trying to rid itself of recollected imagery.

The auditory cortex handles basic sound information: pitch and volume. It also quiets down when the mind is blocking a recollection.

The hippocampus is memory central. When memories form, it is abuzz with neural chatter. It calms down when a recollection is suppressed.

The amygdala comes to life when feelings are involved. It works with the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex to create emotional memories. _SCIAMmind
Of course there is a lot more involved to brain memory than what you find in the brief primer above. Human memory is incredibly dynamic, and involves most of the same parts of the brain in recall as were involved in the original laying down of memory. Even more interesting, is the fact that the memory deals not just with the past, but with the future!
It is proposed that the human brain is proactive in that it continuously generates predictions that anticipate the relevant future. In this proposal, analogies are derived from elementary information that is extracted rapidly from the input, to link that input with the representations that exist in memory. Finding an analogical link results in the generation of focused predictions via associative activation of representations that are relevant to this analogy, in the given context. Predictions in complex circumstances, such as social interactions, combine multiple analogies. Such predictions need not be created afresh in new situations, but rather rely on existing scripts in memory, which are the result of real as well as of previously imagined experiences. This cognitive neuroscience framework provides a new hypothesis with which to consider the purpose of memory, and can help explain a variety of phenomena, ranging from recognition to first impressions, and from the brain's ‘default mode’ to a host of mental disorders. _Abstract...Royal Society
Read the full article at the Royal Society link above.

Once we learn that the brain works much the same during perception, cognition, and memory -- and when reliving the past or predicting the future -- a wide range of opportunities for shaping our experience suddenly opens up to us.

But as always, it is best to view these things in a circular manner, and to begin at the center and work our way outward in a spiral. When beginning at the center, it is best to breathe deeply, and let go a huge belly laugh. After that, things seem to become easier.

For although life is full of surprises, chance favours the prepared mind. Which means that a great deal of laughter is likely to be needed along the way, to build mental resilience and receptivity.



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