Re: Is the Brain the Way?

From: HOLMES Sharon (
Date: Fri Mar 01 1996 - 16:32:03 GMT

> From: Dawson Jon <>
> Date: Fri, 1 Mar 1996 15:51:54 GMT

> how do we know which different bits of the brain do what if
> we cannot observe the stimulated area at the same time as we
> stimulate that area?

Joy! we can now do this with these rather nifty PET scans. Subjects
can undertake cognitive tasks while the brain is scanned in real-time. ( I
believe Stevan has references for work on this).

> if by experiment we know what all different bits of the
> brain do, then where do we store our memories? (is it true
> that there is no evidence that our body contains an area for
> memory storage?)

There is evidence for a 'storage system' rather than a partcular
singular area for memory. Memory involves many different parts of
the brain which have different roles in the storage and retrieval of
memory - e.g. the frontal lobes and the thalamus. Damage to these
areas can affect memory in different ways. For example, Korsakoff
amnesics tend to have problems with remembering new information,
specifically in creating 'target pathways' to the wanted memory

 (when we encode a
memory we encode other things with it e.g. smell, how we were feeling
at the time etc, which act as pathways to the target memory, and help
us retrieve it)

In Korsakoff amnesics, the damage is usually limited to the thalamus.
 I would highly recommend a book by Alan Parkin - "Memory" (Alan
Parkin is giving a talk here on March 11th at 4pm.) See:

There is evidence that parts of the brain are involved in memory.
Neuropsychology can help to identify which anatomical areas are
involved, and what functions these areas may carry out, but there a
limit is reached (for the moment, at least). We do not know HOW
exactly, memory works - how memories are stored, accessed and

We can scan the brain of someone undertaking a free-recall task
(learning a list of words, then recalling in whatever order they come
to you). Areas of the brain scanned may change colour etc. indicating
the level of activity, but what does this tell us of the actual
processes involved?

uld get it. Cheers, -- Janet

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