How do we remember and why do we forget?
What are the neural mechanisms of impaired memory encoding?
Memory impairment is inevitable if you fail to encode information in the first place. When you meet someone for the first time, two kinds of information are encoded: item-specific information, such as what the person looks like, and relational information, such as the context of the meeting. Encoding of either type of information can be impaired, leading a person either to forget an acquaintance entirely or specifically forget a previous interaction.
What are the neural mechanisms of impaired memory storage?
In the hours after meeting someone new, automatic neural processing replays the events of the interaction in your brain. This offline replay continues as you sleep, leading to memory consolidation. The next day, you will be able to remember details of the interaction, as well as the gist of the experience.
Lead Research Assistant: Mazura Ibragimova
What are the neural mechanisms of impaired memory retrieval?
When memory retrieval is impaired, a person’s name can be elusive at one moment but then suddenly come to mind hours later. In such cases, impaired internal attention could lead you to “draw a blank” in which the person’s name fails to come mind at all, or impaired conflict resolution could lead multiple memories to interfere with one another and produce a “tip of your tongue” feeling. Internal attention and conflict resolution depend on top-down processing linked to distinct regions of lateral prefrontal cortex.