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Try as you might, some events cannot be remembered. Known in psychology as memory blocking, the phenomenon has remained elusive since first described more than half a century ago. Now Donnelly Centre researchers have found that blocking is not due to problems with forming memories, as previously thought, but with memory recall—in worms at least.
By studying this process in the C. elegans worm, a creature only one millimeter long but whose biology has been studied so extensively that the position of all of its 302 nerve cells in the body is known, the researchers think they'll be able to pinpoint the cells and molecules at play during learning and memory.
Findings - Study - Journal - Scientific - Reports
The findings are described in a study published in the journal Scientific Reports.
Memory blocking, also known as Kamin blocking, was first described in rats in the 1960s by the psychologist Leon Kamin at McMaster University. It occurs when an animal that has already learned to respond to a cue, a sound for example, cannot learn to respond to another cue, say a flash of light, when it is presented at the same time as the learned sound.
Suppose - Ice - Cream - Trucks - Song
"Suppose you grew up hearing ice cream trucks playing a song and hearing that song, even when you can't see the truck, makes you think of ice cream," explains Daniel Merritt, who led the study as part of his doctoral research in the group of Derek van der Kooy, Professor in the Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Molecular Research and U of T's Department of Molecular Genetics. "One day, the ice cream truck owners decide to add a spinning green light to the roof of the truck, so that even people who are hard of hearing can see them. Kamin blocking predicts that you won't learn to associate spinning green lights with ice cream, because...
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