How does the brain store memories?
Published in Memory.
Memory is one of the building blocks of the brain. It can help keep us safe — that red stove burner is hot, don’t touch it! — and forms the basis of our identities and narratives about our lives.
So how does the brain store memories and retrieve them?
The simplest answer is that the human brain reshapes itself with each new memory. This happens through the actions of synapses, or the tiny gaps between brain cells. Brain cells, or neurons, communicate with each other through an elegant electrochemical system. A change in the electrical charge of one cell triggers the release of chemicals called neurotransmitters across synapses. The neurotransmitters are then taken up by the neuron on the other side of the gap, where they trigger electrical changes in that cell.