Without memories, you wouldn’t even remember reading this. Memories make our lives possible. We would not be able to learn, progress, or even have social interactions on the level that we do every day without the ability to remember. Yet we (or maybe just I) understand relatively little about how memories are made within our brains. Recently, an image of memories being formed was captured for the first time by scientists at McGill University, UCLA, and The Montréal Neurological Institute and Hospital (also know as “The Neuro”). The image is of proteins being formed at a synapses. Synapses are the connections between brain cells that form a huge network within the brain that is constantly fluctuating. This fluctuation allows for activities such as learning and memory to occur, this is known as synaptic plasticity. What the images demonstrates is how memories, specifically long-term memories, are made permanent. The proteins that are being formed in the image act to strengthen the synapse, and thereby strengthen the memory that is being formed. This makes the connection, and thereby the memory, more permanent. Apparently, this process has been know to happen when new memories are formed, but until now has never been imaged, making this the first visual proof. It is interesting that something that we perceive as so complex and ephemeral, such as memory, is created by proteins.
ScienceDaily (June 19, 2009)