New research suggests that the way we’ve been thinking about short-term and long-term memories isn’t entirely correct. We’re going to take a look at this new discovery. In addition, were going to see how you can make use of this new knowledge to improve your memory and increase your chances of exam success! The accepted view of memory for the past fifty years has been that memory is handled by two different portions of the brain. Memories are created as ‘short-term memories’ in the hippocampus, and are later transferred to the cortex as ‘long-term memories’. This was thought to be the case up until now. Scientists at the Riken-MIT Center for Neural Circuit Genetics have discovered that memories are formed simultaneously in the hippocampus and the cortex. So, this means that the notion of committing information to the long-term memory might not be entirely accurate. Instead, it seems as though memories are made in the cortex from the beginning. The team of US and Japanese researchers discovered this by testing on mice. Using light, this team was able to manipulate neurons inside the mice’s brains. From doing this, they discovered that memories were formed at the same time in the cortex as they were in the hippocampus. These results were demonstrated using mice. However, it’s believed that the same could apply to human beings, as well. You can find out more by reading the journal here. The results have come as a surprise to many in the scientific community, since these new findings contradict the established belief that memories are formed in the hippocampus, then banked in the cortex as long-term memories after being committed properly. This changes the way we think about how memories work, and therefore we need to start thinking about how we can adapt our revision techniques. So, what does this mean for exam candidates wanting to study hard? The same revision techniques will still be beneficial. In addition, practice tests are still the way to go when it comes down to quality study. However, we need to consider improving memory. This new research might change the game there. In the past, people have focused on improving the commitment of memories to the long-term memory (cortex) and recollection of memories. However, might not be the case anymore, since memories go straight to the long-term memory (cortex). This might mean you don’t need to worry so much about committing information to the long-term memory. Instead, you need to focus more on recollection of memories – bringing banked memories from the cortex into the ‘working memory’.
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