Documenting the Coming Singularity

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Uncovering the Memory Molecule

For many years researchers have been attempting to understand how human memory works. Precisely how it works. Down to the specific molecules in play. That's what I call attention to detail. The researchers involved in a recent study at Brandeis University have, for the first time, identified the specific molecule involved in memory storage in the brain. As reported by Biology News Net:
For years, scientists have studied the molecular basis of memory storage, trying to find the molecules that store memory, just as DNA stores genetic memory. In an important study published this week in the Journal of Neuroscience, Brandeis University researchers report for the first time that memory storage can be induced and then biochemically erased in slices of rat hippocampus by manipulating a so-called "memory molecule," a protein kinase known as CaMKII.
So what does this mean? For one thing, it will be helpful in developing treatments for diseases where memory loss is a major factor, such as Alzheimer's. That wouldn't be too shabby an outcome, certainly.

There will be, however, additional benefits to humans beyond direct applications to fighting disease. There will also accrue the benefits of understanding how the human brain works, specifically the reverse engineering process. As we move inexorably towards duplicating the functioning, including consciousness, of the brain in a computer, advances like the one described in this article can only help speed the process along. Stay tuned.

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