While it’s generally accepted that memories are stored somewhere, somehow in our brains, the exact process has never been entirely understood. Strengthened synaptic connections between neurons definitely have something to do with it, although the synaptic membranes involved are constantly degrading and being replaced – this seems to be somewhat at odds with the fact that some memories can last for a person’s lifetime. Now, a team of scientists believe that they may have figured out what’s going on.
Memory is understood as strengthened synaptic connections among neurons. Paradoxically components of synaptic membranes are relatively short-lived and frequently re-cycled while memories can last a lifetime. This suggests synaptic information is encoded at a deeper, finer-grained scale of molecular information within post-synaptic neurons. Long-term memory requires genetic expression, protein synthesis, and delivery of new synaptic components. How are these changes guided on the molecular level?