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Human memory

The human brain is not a computer. The human brain also contains NOTHING that would be equivalent to a hard disc to store information.

Contrary to common belief and intuition, anything that a human brain remembers is not retrieved but actually recreated ad hoc as a pattern of neurotransmitter release from presynaptic neurons and a corresponding uptake of neurotransmitters by the receptors of postsynaptic neurons. When we remember something, this pattern is repeated, sort-of. This release and uptake of neurotransmitters creates a thought, or a mental image of the world.

For a brain at rest, or occupied by other tasks, anything that is not actually remembered at a certain moment, is simply not there. Nothing actually is stored and retrieved.

But on suited occasions, and when it is advantageous to know something that was known before, a certain pattern of neurotransmitter release into synapses, and their uptake, is re-enacted. There is similarity in the patterns for certain memories, but they are never exactly the same, as information retrieved from a computer hard disc would be. The same neurons, which are used when something is remembered, are occupied with other tasks at other times.

A computer, a digital device, and the human brain, which operates as an analog system, are so fundamentally different that fantasies of downloading one's memory onto a hard disc won't work. File Not Found is what you will get.

We almost never remember anything the same way twice. Not the same amount of neurotransmitters is released every time, and there may be shortages of certain molecules needed for the synthesis of certain neurotransmitters, for example in degenerative disease. Memories fade because the release of neurotransmitters cannot be re-enacted with sufficient similarity to what happened before, and things are forgotten when certain patterns cannot be repeated. This also explains false memories, which are much more common than commonly believed.



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