I wanted to take a moment to introduce the Ello community to a long-term project that I've recently initiated. The Memory Specimen Project is an ongoing investigation into human memories visually manifested through the unique process of neural portraiture.
Where do our memories reside? Perhaps they exist as a conceptual construct as proposed in the Holonomic brain model first developed by neuroscientist Karl Pribram in collaboration with physicist David Bohm. In this model, trace memories, also called engrams, are distributed non-locally, over the entirety of the neural network, similar to the way information is stored in a hologram, where the whole of the stored information is contained within any part of that hologram.
Recent research being done at the Picower Institute For Learning and Memory at MIT challenges this holonomic theory by providing evidence that memories are in fact stored locally within specific sets of neurons, or quite possibly, within individual neurons, and that by simply activating these neurons an entire memory can be recalled.
“We demonstrate that behavior based on high-level cognition, such as the expression of a specific memory, can be generated in a mammal by highly specific physical activation of a targeted subpopulation of brain cells, in this case by light,” says Susumu Tonegawa, the Picower Professor of Biology and Neuroscience at MIT when describing the process of using optogenetics to stimulate the recall of specific memories.
Using this emerging research as a conceptual framework, the Memory Specimen Project was initiated. This project is an attempt to manifest and preserve individual memories through the unique process of neural portraiture. Each collected memory will be assigned a specific neuron rendered in diluted acrylic on Yupo paper and placed in a Riker specimen mount. Accompanying each rendered neuron in the Riker mount will be a type-written account of the specific memory assigned to that neuron.
For a detailed overview of the project please visit The Memory Specimen Project
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I will continue posting Memory Specimens here on Ello as the project progresses