How Brain Cells Make Memories


Remembering a lot of things at the same time is difficult. As an experiment, read these numbers: 07041776. Then, close your eyes and try to say them aloud, in order. How did you do? We would guess that you remembered around half of the numbers. Now, try again but think of the same numbers as a date: 07-04-1776. Did you remember more of the numbers this time? You just demonstrated something called working memory. Working memory (“WM” for short) is the ability to hold onto and process pieces of information. WM activates when you experience and remember events in your life, learn new facts, talk to people, read, and do math. WM is a basic human behavior. As shown in the numbers experiment, WM has limited capacity. How does the brain support WM? And, what is happening in the brain that limits our capacity to store multiple memories at the same time?

Frontiers for Young Minds
Randolph Helfrich
Randolph Helfrich
Principial Investigator