Is it really possible to forget an event or learn? Teach me about science

Have you ever wanted to completely forget a memory that brings you back to an unpleasant moment in your life? Or, on the contrary, have you tried to remember a study topic that you were sure you learned a long time ago and needed at that moment? Well, sometimes forgetting seems to work in a very strange way; It does not allow us to get rid of the negative memory that constantly comes to our mind, sometimes it is difficult to remember simple information and one needs a more thorough mental process that makes it clear to us.

Forgetting in simple terms refers to the decline of memories over time, and although it is admittedly a natural process of an organism due to the fact that we do not have unlimited memory capacity, it is not yet known how it is carried out of this process or why it is sometimes difficult for us to forget an event Shocking. Given this, the scientists wondered if the learning could actually be forgotten or an event, that is, if the brain returned to its base state before learning once the studied time has passed and is not used consistently, which would be something like deleting all files from memory and leaving it empty.

Researchers in a study published in science progress He set out to investigate some unknowns of what happens in the brain when forgetting and to determine whether forgetting actually reflects the learning process. For this they used a widely accepted experimental model, the roundworm (C. elegans), in a protocol consisting of the induction of worms to aversive olfactory learning of pathogenic bacteria.

In this way, the animals were trained to detect the odor in order to test it later and determine whether, under normal conditions after olfactory learning, they were able not to approach containers with that odor at different times after training, and at a certain point. At a time when living things were considered forgotten.

Through this, it was determined, in the first place, that the worms formed an aversive memory for this smell, learned to reduce their preference for it after 4 hours of training, and it was proved that it takes 1 hour to learn to forget. So a comparison of untrained individuals, trained worms, and worms that actually forgot their smell aversion suggests that the three states are different at the brain level, as well as showing that the worm that actually forgot its memory, once it underwent training again, took just 3 minutes to learn it.

This showed that forgetting makes remembering less easy, but does not completely erase the learning memory, but rather, after adequate stimulation of the memory, allows it to be learned more easily than the first time, when the brain was empty. Learning said before. This is in line with previous studies showing that sensory cues associated with a prior learning experience can remind an animal of a forgotten memory.

In addition, the study characterized genes and mechanisms likely to be involved in the process, as well as modulating signals involved in neuronal activity that support what was described above, and by which it can be described that forgetting is a new, different state, both for the basal state (when learning is unknown), or to a learning state.

In this way, with the results found in the report, it can be said that it is not possible to return the brain to zero just by learning something and that only a stimulus is required to encourage it to remember it or to relearn it in a simpler way. road.

Finally, it is hoped that knowing this will allow us to understand the extremes in PTSD or during neurological states that cause progressive memory decline.

You can find the full study at: science advances.

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