Re: Memories are made of these

From: Dace (
Date: Sun Mar 10 2002 - 19:32:11 GMT

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    Subject: Re: Memories are made of these
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    Hi Wade,

    Thanks for posting this.

    > Memories are made of these
    > by Damaris Christensen, BioMedNet News
    > 7 March 2002 16:30 EST
    > Elegant research released today from Nobelist Eric Kandel's laboratory
    > reveals that the cAMP response element binding protein (CREB), long
    > implicated in memory consolidation, primes brain cells to retain
    > long-term memories. Regulated expression of CREB, during or shortly
    > before a memory task, might allow single-trial learning, and eventually
    > lead to development of memory-enhancing drugs, Kandel says.

    A nice illustration of my point. Neuroscience is all about what the brain
    does when we think, feel, remember, etc. What researchers prove is not
    their underlying reductionistic assumption but simply the particular functions
    of genes, proteins, neurons, and synapses. I say this not to minimize the
    importance of brain science but to put it in context.

    > In general, nerve cells become more tightly linked when stimulated by a
    > series of high-frequency electrical pulses, says Kandel, professor of
    > physiology at Columbia University. This increase in synaptic strength -
    > known as long-term potentiation, or LTP - may last for hours, days or
    > even weeks, and is critical in learning and memory formation.

    One would expect long-term alterations in neural functioning if the brain is required for long-term memory. Short of actually downloading memories from gray matter, neuroscience can never say for sure whether the memories are identical to the synaptic arrays or merely facilitated by them.

    > "You need to store information, and information storage may require new
    > building blocks," said John Lisman, professor of biology at Brandeis
    > University.

    That he's a professor doesn't transmute his assumption into fact, unless of
    course science is the latest priesthood. All priests are alchemists in a
    way, turning thin air into solid ground.

    > "This is one more step in showing that CREB has the power to
    > provide these building blocks for a local process of synaptic
    > strengthening."

    Again, this is not to deny the legitimacy of research into what the brain
    does while we think and perceive.

    > "Our data indicate that CRE-mediated transcription is one of the
    > prerequisites for the consolidation of long-term synaptic changes," said
    > Kandel.

    No objections here.


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