By: Daniel Glaser | How the brain stores memories | Daniel Glaser | Neuroscience | The Guardian
Memory loss is gradual but, unlike computers, we have inbuilt backups
Every week there is a new dementia study, raising hopes that we can find a way to halt memory loss. Interestingly, in any form of dementia our memories don’t vanish immediately but fade gradually – our memory systems have a property known as ‘graceful degradation’.
In a computer, each item of information is stored in a specific location. If part of the memory or hard drive becomes corrupted, a specific fact or image is lost instantly. The brain works differently by splitting up memories into overlapping patterns across a network of thousands and millions of neurons. As memory fades, there is a gradual deterioration in the ability to recall efficiently.