Thanks for the memories ¹
We are our memories. Without them, we have little to live for. And without memory we would not be able to drive a car, speak a language or do our work. It is not surprising that one of our greatest fears is to lose memory, as happens in debilitating diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
In brain science, there is a general idea on what makes us remember things: nerve cells can change the strength of their connections – called synaptic plasticity. But how exactly this makes us remember what we did last week, or how it enables us to learn to play the piano is still a mystery.
We want to study how synaptic plasticity really works, how it influences the workings of nerve cells in the brain, and how that contributes to the many different types of memory that we have.
We will study memory at the microscopic level of the molecules that work in the synapse all the way up to the level of the conscious human brain, in the hope of finally understanding the mystery of memory, and of treating diseases like Alzheimer’s.
1) “Thanks for the memories” is what americans say at the end of nice get-to-gether with friends or family. There is even a famous 1938 movie-song by Shirley Ross and Bob Hope (see here on youtube).