What Is An Engram?

Engrams are often thought of in the scientific community as a neural network, or fragment of memory, and how memories are stored. Although it is not disputed that they exist, it is disputed as to how they operate within the brain to form memory, and where exactly they are located.

Plato was the first recorded person to ponder the idea that all experiences in our lives leave some trace in the brain, and likened it to a stamp on wax. In 1904 a little-known but very influential memory researcher, German scholar Richard Semon, coined the name “engram” on the ghostly trace.

The general consensus among neuroscientists is that the types of memory involved in complex tasks most likely are distributed among a variety of neural systems, however specific areas of the brain processes different types of knowledge. Brain regions, like the cerebellum, striatum, cerebral cortex, hippocampus, and amygdala are believed to play an important role in memory. The hippocampus, for example, is thought to be involved in spatial and declarative learning, as well as consolidating short-term into long-term memory.

What actually is an engram? Previous research suggests that brain cells are activated by an experience, much like a group of people who all witness a specific event. When you communicate with one another will join in with their interpretation of what they witnessed — with details including sight, sound and smell. The brain appears to retain a memory by growing thicker, or more efficient, communication lines between these cells.

Since the 1960s scientists have found dozens of molecules that play some role in the process of memory, but for years the field struggled to pinpoint the purpose each one served.

“There is not going to be one, single memory molecule, the system is just not that simple,” said Thomas J. Carew, a neuroscientist at the University of California, Irvine, and president of the Society for Neuroscience. “There are going to be many molecules involved, in different kinds of memories, all along the process of learning, storage and retrieval.”

This is Ron White, memory training expert. I hope you enjoyed learning about the engram, and I hope to bring more about this elusive phenomenon at another time.

Memory Training
improve your memory memory training


New York Times: Brain Researchers Open Door to Editing Memory: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/06/health/research/06brain.html?pagewanted=all

Wikipedia — Engram: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Engram_%28neuropsychology%29; Engram (Dianetics) : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Engram_%28Dianetics%29;

You May Also Like