Memory is the bridge to our past and our future

About the Center

  • How does the brain create and preserve memories?
  • Why are some memories vivid while others are vague?
  • What chemical keys does the brain use to lock experiences into memory?
  • How does the brain store and retrieve different forms of memory--memory of events and memory of skills?

These questions are not only intellectually intriguing but are integral to our understanding of how the brain works. Although memories appear simply to "happen", the ability to record information is fundamental to our very existence as human beings. We tend to think of memory as involving only our past, but in fact, it is learning and memory that allows us to use our past experiences to think, reason and plan for the future. For those of us with normal memory, it is difficult to imagine life without the bridge of continuity that forms the basis of all our knowledge, skills, hopes and dreams.

For more than 25 years, the mission of the Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory (CNLM) has been to conduct and promote research on the basic brain processes that underlie our ability to learn and remember. Understanding these enormously complex processes of the brain is undoubtedly one of the most intriguing and challenging quests of modern science. Moreover, it is only by understanding the normal processes of learning and memory that we gain insight into what happens when memory is impaired. We know all too well how the ability to create and retain memories can be crippled or destroyed by numerous influences including head injury, stroke, neurodegenerative diseases, the subtle consequences of nutritional deficiencies in infancy, and the effects of toxic substances and drug abuse.

The investigations of CNLM researchers do not directly involve diagnosis or treatment of memory disorders. Rather, the research builds the foundation of knowledge about the brain that is essential for understanding disorders of learning and memory. There has been considerable progress in understanding the workings of the brain in recent years. However, many of the most fundamental mechanisms of learning and memory continue to challenge neuroscientists. We invite you to explore these pages to learn more about the Center and our amazing scientific journey.