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Memory: dominant tenant in the brain.

Memory: Dominant Tenant in the Brain

If memory is an illusive entity, evidence does exist that it uses many parts of the brain for its purposes.

Remember, without memory we could not learn from experience, there would be no intellectual functioning, no development of language, no memory for meaning, no recognition of our environment. The newborn baby could not remember to nurse, nor could the adult brain remember how to breathe, sleep, digest and eliminate food.

Memory also inhabits the genes -- which makes some of the aforementioned functions possible. Genetic memory also is responsible for individual characteristics both physical and mental.

Psychologists, notably Carl Jung, have theorized that we are also influenced by collective memories inherited from our long line of ancestors. Some people insist that they are able to "remember" events from before their birth.

Principal regions of the brain that appear to be important in learning and memory are the cerebellum and the hippocampus. The former has been identified as a storehouse of conditioned responses. Brain-injured people who are identified as retarded usually suffer from cerebellar damage. Their inability to coordinate movement, thought processes and integrate learning is attributed to such trauma.

The hippocampus is deeply involved in memory function. It is the "clearing house" through which short-term memories pass, some of which become long-term memories.

It is also capable of converting an emotional evaluation into an action, or it can direct the memory back to the evaluation system for further work. Example: the typical human reaction to sex or hunger is modified by evaluation that causes the brain to postpone the initial reaction, either for reasons of prudence or strategy!

Another fascinating example, yet routinely part of life, is the sequence triggered by the sight of food, the evaluation by the hippocampus whether it is fit to eat, the cerebellum's function in coordinating the salivation and brain function that proceeds to start the eating process in motion.

There are, of course, other portions of the brain that are constantly being utilized by memory to achieve its purposes. Not to be underestimated are the visual system, the auditory circuit, the senses of smell and taste.

The brain with all of its wonders, remains a landlord almost wholly beholden to its principal tenant -- the enigmatic memory.
COPYRIGHT 1989 Vegetus Publications
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Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Nutrition Health Review
Date:Jan 1, 1989
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