After providing all the funding for The Brain from Top to Bottom for over 10 years, the CIHR Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction informed us that because of budget cuts, they were going to be forced to stop sponsoring us as of March 31st, 2013.

We have approached a number of organizations, all of which have recognized the value of our work. But we have not managed to find the funding we need. We must therefore ask our readers for donations so that we can continue updating and adding new content to The Brain from Top to Bottom web site and blog.

Please, rest assured that we are doing our utmost to continue our mission of providing the general public with the best possible information about the brain and neuroscience in the original spirit of the Internet: the desire to share information free of charge and with no adverstising.

Whether your support is moral, financial, or both, thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

Bruno Dubuc, Patrick Robert, Denis Paquet, and Al Daigen




Monday, 14 January 2013
Links on Forgetting and Amnesia

This week, as I have before in this blog, I am posting a set of new links to other web sites that discuss a subject covered in The Brain from Top to Bottom. The subject this week is the sub-topic “Forgetting and Amnesia” under the topic “Memory and the Brain”. For each link, I also provide a brief description of the content on the site in question.

Molecular Level

i_lien Why Sleep Is Needed To Form Memories

By allowing calcium ions to enter the neurons while your brain is learning something, NMDA receptors trigger a cascade of enzymatic reactions that appear to be truly effective only if you are asleep.

Neurological Level

i_lien How Memory Works

This site presents a 10-minute video about advances in scientific understanding of human memory, and in particular the contribution of the studies on Patient H.M. and on certain molecules involved in strengthening synapses.

i_lien Article about Brenda Milner, age 91, a pioneer of neuropsychology (in French)

Article based on an interview with Dr. Brenda Milner, a major figure in the history of neuropsychology, famous among other things for her 30 years of studies on Patient H.M.

Psychological Level

i_lien For memory enhancement, the kind of sleep you get is important

In studies where the subjects were prevented from reaching the stage of deep sleep but were not awakened, they subsequently displayed poorer visual memory and less activity in the hippocampus.

i_lien Memories can be strengthened while we sleep by providing the right triggers

In the experiment reported here, subjects were asked to memorize the positions of various objects on a screen, while a relevant sound for each object was played back to them. While the subjects then napped, some of these sounds were played again. Afterward, the subjects more accurately remembered the positions of those objects whose sounds had been played again while they slept.

i_lien Neural basis of synesthesia

A discussion of two theories that might explain synesthesia and that are not mutually exclusive: cross-activation and disinhibited feedback.

i_lien The USA Memory Championship: An Extreme Sport (in French)

Details on the training regimen and the bizarre mnemonic devices used by the contestants in the USA Memory Championship.

i_lien A quick eye-exercise can improve your performance on memory tests (but only if you’re right-handed)

In strongly right-handed people, simply moving their eyes from side to side for about 30 seconds before taking a word-memorization test improves their score, possibly by facilitating communication between the two hemispheres of the brain.

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