Researchers at Wake Forest University have come closer to explaining how fleeting moments are sealed into life-long memories. Ashok Hegde, assistant professor at WFU Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, along with colleagues, is mapping out the pathway that leads experiences to become long-term memories in mice.
For humans to store memories in the brain's keepsake box, "we must either get information repeatedly or strongly," Hegde explains. "One of the hallmarks of memories that last is a close association with emotion." Norepinephrine, a brain chemical similar to adrenaline, is released in the brain during such emotional situations. "Norepinephrine lowers the gate so that information can go into permanent storage," Hegde says."The details might be different in mice and people, but we think the mechanism will be the same."