Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists debate the neurobiological underpinnings of amnesia

05.10.2006
A first kiss, an exotic vacation, a sports team championship, a child's first words: all are memorable events. But when someone has amnesia, have the memories been completely purged from the brain or are they simply irretrievable? Is amnesia a defect in memory storage, or memory recovery?

This has been a vexed question for more than 30 years. Most psychologists tended to support the retrieval-deficit explanation, while neuroscientists interested in how memories work at a molecular and cellular level backed the idea of storage-failure.

This disconnect has limited both scientific and clinically relevant advances. But in a collection of articles published today by the journal Learning & Memory, leaders in the field of memory studies have thoughtfully reconsidered the enigma of amnesia, as well as the methodological and conceptual problems in its study. They point out how studies of amnesia have been important in forming our current understanding of how memory works, and they propose novel ways of experimentally evaluating the neurobiological basis of memory impairment. The resulting section, entitled "The Neurobiology of Amnesia," includes eight articles, all of which are available online today at www.learnmem.org.

"Questions about the nature of amnesia are ultimately biological questions," explains Dr. Larry Squire, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego, and one of the contributors to the special section. "But some of the best-known and most-often-cited evidence is founded on a behavioral-psychological level of analysis. What we really need to be asking is: 'In amnesia, what actually happens to the synaptic changes that carry the memory?'"

"There is evidence that bears on that question," says Dr. Squire. In an experimental setting, animals can "recover" from amnesia under a variety of conditions, something that should be impossible if the memory was not initially stored. But the major challenge is to experimentally assess whether an animal has truly recovered a memory or simply re-learned a task.

Because amnesia is rarely complete and there is often some residual performance ability, it can be argued by supporters of the storage-failure theory that any "recovery" from amnesia reflects new learning added onto the residual memory. The retrieval-failure theory cannot easily be attacked because one can argue that a memory remains inaccessible until the appropriate retrieval cues are provided.

Dr. Karim Nader, Professor of Psychology at McGill University (Canada), is the guest editor of the Learning & Memory special amnesia section. "This compilation of articles brings many of the perspectives concerning the nature of amnesia side-by-side for consideration," he says. "We hope that it will inspire readers to think of new ways to bridge the different positions and levels of analyses, and that it will give new momentum to the search for answers to the fundamental nature of amnesia."

Maria Smit | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.learnmem.org
http://www.cshlpress.com

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Researchers release the brakes on the immune system
18.10.2017 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

nachricht Norovirus evades immune system by hiding out in rare gut cells
12.10.2017 | University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Terahertz spectroscopy goes nano

20.10.2017 | Information Technology

Strange but true: Turning a material upside down can sometimes make it softer

20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

NRL clarifies valley polarization for electronic and optoelectronic technologies

20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>