How does the brain store information such as thoughts and memories?

Above: Image © Nicolas Rougier, Wikimedia Commons

Question

How does the brain store information such as thoughts and memories?

Answer

As far as I know, memory and thoughts are still a relatively fuzzy area of knowledge. We simply don't know enough about them. However, from what we do know.... most of our long term memory is stored in the 'surface' of the brain or the cerebral cortex and our short term memory (who, what, when where and how of the event) in the hippocampus (another area of the brain). In terms of how this memory is stored,it has something to do with a loop in our brain called the loop of papez, which is us thinking about an event over and over again and passing that information over several key parts of the brain.Eventually after a period of time, the brain decides to store that information in the long term memory. The medium in which memory is stored is still pretty fuzzy, but I've heard theories that they are stored in these things called dendritic spines, little spikes coming off of neurons (brain cells). Interesting fact: alcohol increases the fluidity of the membranes, and in the brain this causes solvation of these dendritic spines.... leading to memory loss. In terms of thoughts, it has to do with how our neurons are connected to each other and which neuron connects to which other neuron in sort of a neural net or map. The connections between neurons represents the associations we make when we think of something and compare it to something else, which if you think about it, is essentially what comprises of a thought. Everyone has a unique neural net, and that's why we all have our own unique thoughts.

Answered By: the_dipper

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