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Memory, cells and atoms


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#1 Sigma6

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Posted 16 April 2006 - 09:51 PM

Me and my friend were at school last week and he was talking about how atoms make up everything even cells, which led us to thinking about memory. I was wondereding if anyone on here can explain this. If the part of the brain that deals with memory is made up of cells which are made up of atoms then does that mean atoms can contain information?
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#2 insane_alien

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Posted 16 April 2006 - 09:55 PM

its the arrange ment of the cells and they're connections that store the information in the brain IIRC. atoms can be used to store information. google up quantum computing.
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#3 sunspot

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Posted 18 April 2006 - 01:33 AM

Although atoms could be used to store binary signals by placing atoms in reversable excited states, it is really not necessary when it comes to the brain. There are enough synapses to do the trick. Also the brain works in memory layers. Different emotional and instinctive potentials will affect the firing rates of all the neurons. The ones that fire at the rate the ego is conscious of will be the working memory of the ego. This working memory is scattered throughout the brain allowing full brain function at any brain potential, while narrowing down the associative memory.

A very loose computer analogy would be a 3-D optical memory storage unit, where each light color will activate all the color coordinated memory stored throughout the unit. If one changes the color, another layer of the memory will be used. A futuristic example may be DVD's that play with both red and blue light. The red light will limit the data that can be read. The blue light will open up many more options.

#4 mimefan599

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Posted 18 April 2006 - 01:50 AM

The brain is so complex that we haven't even began to scratch the surface of truly how it functions. But no, atoms can be arrainged in certain ways to make up a mosaic of basic signals, but they do not store memory.
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#5 Helix

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Posted 18 April 2006 - 03:05 AM

Memory is possible because of the configurations atoms make. By arranging themselves into molecules and proteins and cells, the atoms have made complex structures capable of life. So, by more organization they are able to contain memory. How? I have no idea.
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#6 scicop

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Posted 22 April 2006 - 03:53 AM

At the atomic level there are individual atoms are reponsible for memory, although their participation is dependent on thier macromolecule cognates. It is at the molecular/macromolecule actually level where "memory" may find its origin, as structure does dictate function!
In the context of macromolecules, such as proteins and RNA, there are complex protein interactions that lead to memory formation. Experimentally, this phenomna is associated with an electrophysiological phenomena, refered to as Long Term Potentiation (LTP), and Long Term Depression (LTD).

Basically LTP (or LTD) refers to experiments that show if you give an electric field stimulation (HFS at certain frequence and amplitude) you can record an enhanced response (LTP) to the same stimulus at distal time points.

Through elegant studies that combine electrophysiology, pharmacology, biochemistry, and molecular biology, it has been shown that glutamate receptors, (ionotropic..and yes..metabotrobic!!..but we'll keep it to ionotropic for simplicity) AMPA and NMDA subtypes, play a pivotal role in LTP. Magnisium, Mg2+, (an atom) plays an important role in mediating glutamate NMDA receptor function, and consequently LTP (thus memory formation). But the role of Mg2+ is dependant on coordinating amino acids of the NMDA receptor and, more importantly, synaptic summation of AMPA receptor activation. Furthermore, at the atomic level, Ca2+, plays an important role in glutamate (presynatpic neurotransmitter release) release and Na+ and K+, as well as Cl- also particpate (axon potentials..remember..Nernst equasions and neuroscience 101) in eventual neurotransmitter release and synaptic activation.
So yeah..atoms to play a role, but there is an interdependant relationship between proteins (macromolecules and the atoms).
If you want to explore memory (at the molecular level) I suggest readings by,
Paul Adams (SUNY Stony Brook), Rodrick McKinnon (Rockefeller U), Eric Kandel (Columbia U), and Edward Ziff (NYU Sch of Med).
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#7 Nashyboyo

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Posted 22 April 2006 - 11:30 AM

The brain is so complex that we haven't even began to scratch the surface of truly how it functions. But no, atoms can be arrainged in certain ways to make up a mosaic of basic signals, but they do not store memory.


i'm afraid atoms do store memory
a particular protein can be triggered to autophosphorylate itself for a certain amount of time. the time the molecule remains phosphorylated and therefore active is proportional to the stimulus rate, therefore acting as memory.

http://www.ncbi.nlm....ction.2743#2790
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