[Added October 2008]
John Medina book :Brain rules explains what we know about the brain after the Neuroscience discoveries in these last years trying to distill this knowledge in a list of possible ways to improve our learning in school or our intellectual work.
Medina concentrates only on well proven facts and has the gift to present these
results in a way that emphasize all their importance to improve our learning and working experience. For example when considering memory, he explains what we know about the mechanism behind short term (working) memory and long term memory.
Then he distills the single rule : repeat to remember. He clearly explains the importance of this rule reporting the well known case of patient HM without hippocampus and without the possibility to form new long term memories. This case shows some astonishing facts about memory:
- Hippocampus is crucial to form long term memories
- HM had still long term memories but starting from around ten years before the operation that removed the hippocampus. These are stored elsewhere in the brain.
- The formation of these long term memories requires years and literally thousands of memory rehearsals with transmission of signals between the hippocampus and the part of the brain where the memory will stay permanently.
- In all these years each recalling of the memory can bring it back to its volatile state and you can either lose it or modify it.
So, the only thing that really matters with creation of permanent memories is repeating at regular intervals for years.