While it might not seem so the next time you go searching for your car keys, scientists at the University of Pennsylvania have shown that memories are not as fluid as current research suggests. Their findings challenge the prevailing notion on how memories are stored and remembered – or that a recalled memory could be altered or lost as it is "re-remembered."
"Current theories of memory state that the act of remembering turns a stored memory into something malleable that then needs to be re-encoded," said K. Matthew Lattal, a postdoctoral researcher in Penns Department of Biology and a co-author of the study. "We show that the act of retrieving an old memory and then putting it back into storage is a different process than creating a memory in the first place. Unfortunately, it could mean that erasing traumatic memories is not as simple as one might hope."
The study will be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science and will be available on the Internet this week in the PNAS Online Early Edition.
Greg Lester | EurekAlert!
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