By Larry R. Squire
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Extra resources for Memory and Brain
Such events, and perhaps the passage of time itself, change the structure of memory. In other words, forgetting occurs continuously. Yet however much a representation loses its detail and features, it should keep some similarity to the original representation for a very long time. Indeed, behavioral experiments show that when material is relatively well learned initially, forgetting can occur gradually and continuously for many years, after which an appreciable amount of memory still remains (Figure 11; also see Bahrick, 1984).
A natural next question is whether they play any role in learning and memory. 43 MEMORY AND BRAIN Norepinephrine and Memory Locus coeruleus neurons, the source of the forebrain NE system, fire in relation to an animal's level of vigilance, and they can be phasically activated by stimuli such as lights, tones, and mild skin contacts (Foote, Bloom, and Aston-Jones, 1983). This suggests that the locus coeruleus helps alert the forebrain for the processing of important external stimuli. NE might therefore be expected to influence learning and memory, insofar as increased vigilance or attention at the time of learning can make information processing more efficient.
Density of the much more common spine synapse was not affected. ) 21 MEMORY AND BRAIN Baudry, 1984). It has been suggested that calcium concentrations increase in dendritic spines following intense synaptic activity, thereby activating a membrane-associated proteinase, calpain. This enzyme functions by degrading a structural protein in the membrane, fodrin, which causes shape changes and reveals previously hidden receptors to which neurotransmitter can bind. The possible role of these events in synapse formation, as opposed to the more transient dendritic shape changes, has not yet been explored.