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New research reveals every new memory made causes damage to your brain cells

New research reveals every new memory made causes damage to your brain cells

It's a fascinating look at how our brains work.

The human brain is a seriously magnificent bit of tech - OK, that might be a bit of a weird way to describe it, but bear with us.

There's a reason that the massive spike in artificial intelligence programmes and projects in the last few years has still failed to get us close to outclassing the human brain in complexity and computing power - it's an incredibly complicated organ that has huge capabilities.

Now, though, some new research has demonstrated a completely unexpected phenomenon in the brain, to further explain just how on Earth we form memories that can be accessed for potentially decades.

According to research from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, long-term memories are formed by the fusing of neurons in the brain, and the process is a little like making an omelette - you have to break some eggs if you want to get started.


So, too, in the brain, it would seem that a little inflammation is the price of a long-term memory, since this inflammation is accompanied by the fusing and change in neurons that cement a memory in place.

This is particularly interesting since we've known for a while that inflammation in the hippocampus region of the brain bears some relation to both Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases.

These brain conditions are hard to combat, but developing our understanding of how both memory and the brain as a whole actually work can only help in moving further towards cures or treatments for both.

According to one researcher, neuroscientist Jelena Radulovic: "Our findings suggest that inflammation in certain neurons in the brain's hippocampal region is essential for making long-lasting memories."

The research was conducted on mice, and there's no getting around the fact that it doesn't sound very nice - they were given short and mild electric shocks to trigger inflammation in their brains, and then studied how this inflammation evolved over time.

Adam Gault / Getty
Adam Gault / Getty

They found that after around a week, the inflammation ended, but that the region left behind was now significantly more resistant to further change, suggesting that it had a memory now somewhat locked in place.

This would help to explain how our memories work, according to Radulovic: "This is noteworthy because we're constantly flooded by information, and the neurons that encode memories need to preserve the information they've already acquired and not be distracted by new inputs."

So, this might be how we don't accidentally find our core memories being taped over by the menus at restaurants we go to, or bus timetables we check on the way to work - our brain has mechanisms to encode more important information that we're trying to remember, or moments that simply impact on us much more strongly.

Featured Image Credit: Yuichiro Chino/ TEK IMAGE/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY/ Getty