Scientific Understanding of Consciousness
Consciousness as an Emergent Property of Thalamocortical Activity

Memory Encoding



Memories are encoded in patterns of synaptic efficacies in dendritic trees of hierarchically connected neurons with elaborate feedforward and reentrant connections among the hierarchies.

Short-Term Memory

Short-term memory is mediated by rehearsal and by biochemical changes in synaptic efficacy.

Multitudes of local short-term memory circuitry is mediated by recurrent neural circuits.

Long-Term Memory

Long-term memory is mediated by patterns of synaptic efficacies in hierarchically connected neuronal networks.


Research study Memory Encoding in Neocortex


Each Neuron Is Used in Multiple Memories

Each neuron has a dendritic tree of about ~10,000 synapses. The pattern of synaptic activation will be different for each of the memories in which the neuron participates. The combinatorics of 10,000 synapses implies that these neuron can participate in a virtually infinite number of memories. This feature is consistent with Edelman's "highly differentiated" characteristic of the dynamic core of consciousness.

Hippocampus Is Essential for Encoding New Long-Term Memories

Patient HM has demonstrated that the hippocampus is essential for encoding new long-term memories.

Hippocampus Is Not Required for Short-Term Memory Including Working Memory

Patient HM has demonstrated that the hippocampus is not required for short-term memory including working memory.

Area CA3 of the Hippocampus Is an Associative Area

The CA3 region of the hippocampus can align perceptual cue patterns with stored memory patterns which then re-activates the neural activity pattern of the stored memory.

Hippocampus Has Extensive Reciprocal Connectivity With the Cortex

Reciprocal connectivity among the hippocampus, sensory cortex, association cortex, and working memory, together with the thalamocortical circuitry provide the functionality for encoding perceptions and to memory.

Perception Closely Allied with Memory



Return to Memory


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