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Young and old brains store memories differently

Human memories are not like computer files, which are recorded and can be accessed in the same way by any user. Memory is actually a set of sensations that the individual arouses when thinking or saying something. In this way, sounds and images are recreated in the brain and each time a person remembers something, new information is added to this old memory, which will most likely change it. For many years there was the thought that young and old would live this process in the same way.

"However, our results suggest that this is not true and that there is an important biological difference in how memories are stored in old age compared to young adulthood," says Professor Karl Peter Giese of King's College London. published in the journal Current Biology.

In general, memories are created from links. Faced with something new or an experience, the human brain creates connections with the information you already have, and at that time neurons create a new connection through the synapse. This connection is temporary and forms short-term memory, which if left unused or reinforced will be lost.

Brain connections

New discoveries

New research from King's College London and The Open University may help explain why memory in old age is much less flexible than in adulthood. Through experiments on mice, the researchers found that it was much harder to modify memories in older individuals.

Memories are stored in the brain, strengthening the connections between nerve cells called synapses. Remembering a fact alters these connections, allowing memories to be updated to adapt to a new situation. Until now, researchers did not know if this memory upgrade process was affected by age.

The age of the animals did not affect their ability to create new memories, but by analyzing the synapses before and after the memory task, the researchers found fundamental differences between older and younger rodents. In older mice, synaptic changes linked to new memories were much more difficult to modify than changes observed in younger mice, ie remembering was much more difficult. This is because among younger animals synapses promoted multiple connections, while in older animals they connected less.

About the results researcher Giese states: “We found that, unlike younger mice, the memories of older mice were not changed when retrieved. This "fixed" nature of memories formed in old age is directly linked to the alternative way memories were established. "

Because the biological processes for memory creation are the same among mammals, it is very likely that human memory formation follows the same processes found in rodents.

Source: Science Daily

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