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Chapter: Medical Physiology: Cerebral Cortex, Intellectual Functions of the Brain, Learning and Memory

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Short-Term Memory

Short-term memory is typified by one’s memory of 7 to 10 numerals in a telephone number (or 7 to 10 other discrete facts) for a few seconds to a few minutes at a time but lasting only as long as the person continues to think about the numbers or facts.

Short-Term Memory

Short-term memory is typified by one’s memory of 7 to 10 numerals in a telephone number (or 7 to 10 other discrete facts) for a few seconds to a few minutes at a time but lasting only as long as the person continues to think about the numbers or facts.

Many physiologists have suggested that this short-term memory is caused by continual neural activity resulting from nerve signals that travel around and around a temporary memory trace in a circuit of rever-berating neurons. It has not yet been possible to provethis theory. Another possible explanation of short-term memory is presynaptic facilitation or inhibition. This occurs at synapses that lie on terminal nerve fibrils immediately before these fibrils synapse with a subsequent neuron. The neurotransmitter chemicals secreted at such terminals frequently cause facilitation or inhibition lasting for seconds up to several minutes. Circuits of this type could lead to short-term memory.


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