Individual neurons in the brain can hang on to memories for a minute or longer, a new study finds. Something like a computer’s temporary random access memory (RAM), this working memory is what allows you to keep a phone number in your head for a few seconds, then forget it entirely once dialed. The research has wide implications, reports LiveScience.
Scientists previously thought working memory relied on small networks of neurons. Shedding light on short-term memory can help scientists understand not only memory problems, but attention disorders and addiction behavior as well. Quick, decision-making memory formation is usually enhanced by the presence of extra dopamine, but no such boost occurs in mice with cocaine-addiction levels of dopamine.