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Abstract

Research in Medical & Engineering Sciences

Molecular Basis of Neural Memory. Part 9: Defining the Engram

Submission: December 04, 2018;Published: December 14, 2018

DOI: 10.31031/RMES.2018.07.000657

ISSN: 2576-8816
Volume7 Issue2

Abstract

A goal of neuroscientists is to identify the causal relationship between the functioning of neurons and the emergence of mental (psychic) states, such as emotions and memories. The notion that the basis for memory was due to physical changes in the brain, was first proposed by Richard Semon (~1900), who also coined the term “engram” to refer to the physical trace of memory. Elements of Semon’s concept are echoed nowadays in descriptions of “engram cells”, neurons which supposedly store and recall the memory trace. But none of these identify the code that instigates the emotive states experienced and remembered by neural systems.

A mechanistic description of the phenomenon of recall (memory) should address key issues, such as:

• Identity of relevant physiologic compartments.

• Molecular features of encoding/decoding process.

• The process by which psychological (emotive) states are entangled with physiologic responses.

• Formalism (a theory) which reflects the physicality of neural encoding of cog-info.

We have proposed a tripartite mechanism that addresses the above issues, based on the dynamic interactions of 3 discrete physiologic compartments:

1. The neuron

2. Neural extracellular matrix (nECM) , the hydrogel around the cell which performs as its “memory material”.

3. Trace metals and neurotransmitters (NTs) distributed therein (dopants).

The tripartite mechanism describes a chemical code for psychic states that is not linguistic, but presents the molecular correlates of the memory engram that render the neural synapse operative for the function of recall.

Keywords: Cognitive information; Emotion; Mentation; Trace metals; Neurotransmitters

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