The Design Museum has partnered with Swarovski for an experiment examining the perception of memories in the digital age. Digital Crystal: Swarovski At Design Museum includes 15 incredible installations from contemporary designers recovering the lost connection between objects and time. Deyan Sudjic, director of the Design Museum, explains main idea behind the exhibition:
Digital Crystal: Swarovski at the Design Museum explores the meaning of memory in the digital age, with the demise of the analogue era our relationship and connection with personal memory, photographs, diaries, letters, time and ephemera is changing. The exhibition takes this as its starting point, to question the future and our relationship with the changing world, where it seems all too easy to lose connection with the tangible and the real, as we move ever faster to a digital age where memory and the personal possessions we once held so highly are now online or gone in an instant.
Each designer responded to the brief in extremely different ways. Ron Arad created Lolita (pictured below), a chandelier with more than 2,000 Swarovski crystals and 1,000 white LEDs, which convert the object into a giant interactive pixel board. The chandelier was originally created for Swarovski Crystal Place in 2004, but Arad has repurposed his creation to display tweets (#DigitalCrystal) and SMS messages.
“This is the first time anyone has found a way to store information over seconds about both temporal sequences and stimulus patterns directly in brain tissue,” says Dr. Strowbridge. “This paves the way for future research to identify the specific brain circuits that allow us to form short-term memories.” Their study, entitled “Mnemonic Representations of Transient Stimuli and Temporal Sequences in Rodent Hippocampus In Vitro,” is slated for publication in the October issue of Nature Neuroscience, and is currently available online. Memories are often grouped into two categories: declarative memory, the short and long-term storage of facts like names, places and events; and implicit memory, the type of memory used to learn a skill like playing the piano. In their study, the researchers sought to better understand the mechanisms underlying short-term declarative memories such as remembering a phone number or email address someone has just shared. Using isolated pieces of rodent brain tissue, the researchers demonstrated that they could form a memory of which one of four input pathways was activated. The neural circuits contained within small isolated sections of the brain region called the hippocampus maintained the memory of stimulated input for more than 10 seconds. The information about which pathway was stimulated was evident by the changes in the ongoing activity of brain cells.
Scientists say they’ve been able to control specific memories in mice in research that they hope could help treat diseases such as schizophrenia and post traumatic stress disorder.
It’s long been known that stimulating various regions of the brain can trigger behaviors and even memories – but understanding how these brain functions develop and occur normally has been much harder.
“The question we’re ultimately interested in is: How does the activity of the brain represent the world?” says Scripps Research neuroscientist Mark Mayford.
“Understanding all this will help us understand what goes wrong in situations where you have inappropriate perceptions. It can also tell us where the brain changes with learning.”
The team set out to manipulate specific memories by inserting two genes into mice.
New connections between brain cells emerge in clusters in the brain as animals learn to perform a new task, according to a study published in Nature. Led by researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz, the study reveals details of how brain circuits are rewired during the formation of new motor memories.
The researchers studied mice as they learned new behaviors, such as reaching through a slot to get a seed. They observed changes in the motor cortex, the brain layer that controls muscle movements, during the learning process. Specifically, they followed the growth of new “dendritic spines,” structures that form the connections (synapses) between nerve cells.
“For the first time we are able to observe the spatial distribution of new synapses related to the encoding of memory,” said Yi Zuo, assistant professor of molecular, cell and developmental biology at UC Santa Cruz and corresponding author of the paper.
In a previous study, Zuo and others documented the rapid growth of new dendritic spines on pyramidal neurons in the motor cortex during the learning process. These spines form synapses where the pyramidal neurons receive input from other brain regions involved in motor memories and muscle movements. In the new study, first author Min Fu, a postdoctoral researcher in Zuo’s lab, analyzed the spatial distribution of the newly formed synapses.
Efforts to help people with learning impairments are being aided by a species of sea snail known as Aplysia californica. The mollusk, which is used by researchers to study the brain, has much in common with other species including humans. Research involving the snail has contributed to the understanding of learning and memory.
At The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth), neuroscientists used this animal model to test an innovative learning strategy designed to help improve the brain’s memory and the results were encouraging. It could ultimately benefit people who have impairments resulting from aging, stroke, traumatic brain injury or congenital cognitive impairments.
Ever get up to retrieve something from another room only to completely forget what you needed after crossing the doorway?
You’re not alone, and scientists think forgetful trips between rooms result from how our brains interpret spatial information.
Researchers already know that walking from one space to another makes people more likely to forget tasks when compared to others who don’t make such a transition. Called “location-updating effect,” the phenomenon also causes people transitioning between rooms (even virtual ones) to take more time while attempting to recall items from memory.
Moving from one space to another seems to cue the brain to refresh itself and pay attention to the new space, making it harder to recall information from the previous space. By then, the previous experience is already filed away in the brain’s working memory, which is why recalling what you need can seem unnecessarily arduous.