1.15. Unlocking the Secret Through a Slug

You want to investigate memory and learning further –  as you feel that you’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg.

So now, You step into the skin of scientist Eric Kandel who begins his research into memory towards the end of the 20th century.

The human brain has 10 billion neurons.

Within the human brain the Hippocampus has millions of neurons.

Thousands can fit into a full stop.

A type of simple slug, the Aplysia, only has around 20,000 and some are visible to the naked eye. You take this creature of choice, the Aplysia, and strip away some its flesh.

As Kandel, you prod the aplysia’s brain with an electrode and measure the responses.

When the electrode comes into contact with the Hippocampus the slug’s gill retracts in size.

You are witnessing a direct response of brain activity controlling a physical function.

At the start of the 20th century this had been known as Learning Theory.

By the end of the 20th century, this was being redefined simply as memory.

Until then, there had only been theories about how the brain binded connections together to form memories.

Using your measuring equipment on the aplysia’s brain you find that a protein is being created. This protein acts like a glue sticking the neurons together.

It’s this sticking together of the neurons that creates the binding of memories.

Memory is a like a collage you make in school. You take different bits and pieces and stick them together to form a picture.

You have found out that memory literally sticks.

Image from catalystmagazine.net

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