Human Memory Research Mistake

The human memory research mistake is that science has not yet focused on explaining its massive capacity and precision. While memory must reside in the nervous system, the mathematical underpinnings of science prevent it from seeing the nerve cell as a pattern recognition entity, which can remember and precisely recall patterns on a galactic scale.

A 2004 Nobel Prize winning discovery pointed directly to neurons as the vehicle of memory. The memory for thousands of smells for animals resides in the combinatorial codes of their olfactory neurons. Leslie Vosshall reports that, in her lab, ordinary volunteers, (not wine tasters or perfumers), could clearly distinguish between different combinations of 128 odor molecules, indicating an average human ability to differentiate between 1 trillion smells. Combinatorial codes can theoretically store a galactic memory and recall it with infinite precision. This view has not been followed up by science in its research.

Human and animal memory involves the ability to remember and recognize millions of images. In the muscle movements for habitual activities from running to speaking, the system stores massive combinatorial memories. Yet, the most important area for memory research has been for simple remembered responses in fear conditioning. In these experiments, mice and rats learn to avoid a mild electric shock to their feet, while they move around a small chamber. Once learned, animals do not forget. Placed back in the chamber a day, or even a month later, they remember to avoid the shock. By focusing on this simple "Dial 100" response, science fails to seek explanations for trillions of other memory links.

  • Science focuses on the storage of strong traumatic memories, instead of faint episodic memories.
  • Long term potentiation is merely a speed dial link in the system.
  • PKMzeta also deals with critical memories.
  • Dial 100 ability cannot explain the ability to store 10,000 images sequentially.
  • Branch growth to remember millions of images sounds more like cancer. 
  • Damage to the hippocampus does not cause a loss of past memories.
  • Combinatorial codes can store astronomically large memories with microscopic precision.

Human Memory Research Mistake - Speed Dial Links
Nature created “speed dial links” between nerve cells to remember notably dangerous situations. Neural plasticity grew new branches to support such links. LTP established quick response systems. High frequency stimulation of the dendrites of a neuron were known to improve the sensitivity of the synaptic nerve junctions. Such activity was seen to be "remembered" by the cell through greater sensitivity at specific inputs. Harvard scientists listed 117 molecules involved at the synaptic junctions which could increase such sensitivity. These chemicals assisted in linking neural paths to create increased levels of activity between neurons in different areas. Can a few speed dial links explain the phenomenal range and depth of human memory?

Human Memory Research Mistake - PKMzeta
Recently, Dr. Sacktorat discovered a substance called PKMzeta, which was present and activated in neighboring cells with speed-dial links. The PKMzeta molecules formed into precise fingerlike connections among brain cells that were strengthened. The molecules remained in place to sustain the speed dial links, which enabled heightened responses to danger. However, when a drug, which interferes with PKMzeta was injected directly into the brain, the animals forgot their fear. The animals even forgot a strong disgust they had developed for a taste after the administration of the drug. It was hoped that by disabling LTP, the drug could blunt painful memories and addictive urges. The ability of LTP to handle urgent messages does not explain how the system remembers last night's dinner menu.

Human Memory Research Mistake - LTP Not The Answer
While LTP can establish “speed dial links,” combinatorial memories are required for the galaxy of events, remembered by the nervous system daily. People are reported to be able to recognize every one of 10,000 images shown to them at 1 second intervals. Such memories involve combinatorial arrangements of millions of pixels. Even habits require memories. The intricate movements of centipedes and horses need colossal memories. The graceful steps of a ballet dancer are learned through tedious practice. They require millions of motor memories repeating thousands of time a second. Such independent combinatorial memories are stored at such speeds and deal with memories of the whole nervous system for daily events. The “Dial 100” character of LTP cannot be the basis for such memories.

Human Memory Research Mistake - Branching Unlikely
Memory research follows many leads. One clue relates to the branched inputs of nerve cells, called dendrites. Branch growth is assisted by a protein called cypin. Some memory disabilities were related to deficits in cypin. So, one possibility was that nerve cells grew new branches to store memory. New branches could represent added memory. But, when the size and scale of human memory is considered, the idea of branches, however microscopic, growing to add memories sounds perilously cancerous.

Human Memory Research Mistake - The Hippocampus
Damage to the hippocampus, a component of a region of the brain called the limbic system, is known to cause patients to forget ongoing events within a few seconds. But, incidents from childhood and early adult life were still remembered. Memory had faded from a couple of years prior to the event that caused damage to the hippocampus. Older memories were still retained by the patient even without the hippocampus. Research has identified the role of the organ in storing long term contextual episodic memories all over the cortical regions.

Human Memory Research Mistake - A Wrong Focus On Maths
The brilliance of the mind can only be explained through the pattern recognition process. But, since scientists favor maths, neurons, the basic building blocks of human intelligence, are assumed to be computers. Nerve cells are presumed to compute, not recognize. So, memory research failed to note the significance of neurons in the discovery of combinatorial codes. Combinatorial codes can store astronomically large volumes of data and can explain the immense wisdom of the mind. This website suggests that the mind functions by remembering and recognizing patterns. Combinatorial codes store human memory for both events and for habitual muscular responses.

This page was last updated on 31-Dec-2013

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For my peace of mind, I earmarked 20 minutes for meditation on the terrace. With my eyes closed, I sense my hands on the chair and feel the numbness in my feet.

I feel my breath flowing through my nose, my throat, my chest and my stomach. I can hear the chirping of birds, the phut phut of auto rickshaws, the occasional roar of a truck and the insistent hooting of horns.

The wide sky and the treetops come to my attention, when I open my eyes, I see a pale moon over two hundred thousand miles away. I see the nuclear fires, blazing for millions of years in the pale globe of the setting sun. I see a single star millions of miles away in space.

I can see green shoots coming up on a tree, watch the dives and swoops of birds, the great circles of the hawks and flocks of birds flying home for the night.

Diffused light from the sun reflects off a parrot on the tree and enters my eye through a pinhole opening. I sense the bustling mood of the bird, even though it is smaller than a drop of water in my eyes.

All these things are seen and felt by me in a few brief minutes. In the distance, is the head of a man seeming to be no bigger than a pea. Yet, that head too sees and feels such things. Ten million people in this great city see and feel in ten million ways.

My mind wanders to a misty view of postwar London; an exciting glimpse of Disneyland. An awed view of Tiananmen Square. The looming Himalayan ranges. My mind takes me to distant galaxies.

It carries me into the heart of millions of invisible neurons, where electrical charges flash thousands of times a second powering my contemplation. I see the campaigns of Julius Caesar and Alexander. I feel the longings of Jehangir.

Already my mind has taken me to palaces, battlefields and even the stars. If I lost everything, but can just see and feel, in just a few brief minutes, my mind can travel the world, or imagine the cosmos.

While my thoughts wandered far and near, the thought "20 minutes is a long time" also kept floating in. And yet, life has already blessed me with over twenty million waking minutes! I have an infinity of time on my hands. Have I a right to expect more from life?

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