MIT researchers compare the electric field to an orchestra conducting the neurons as players:
The Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at MIT offers an interesting new model of how memories are processed in the brain. Using two macaques playing a game while their brain activities were recorded, the researchers suggest the orchestra as a model. The neurons are the players and the electric field is the conductor:
As the brain strives to hold information in mind, such as the list of groceries we need to buy on the way home, a new study suggests that the most consistent and reliable representation of that information is not the electrical activity of the individual neurons involved but an overall electric field they collectively produce.
Indeed, whenever neuroscientists have looked at how brains represent information in working memory, they’ve found that from one trial to the next, even when repeating the same task, the participation and activity of individual cells varies (a phenomenon called “representational drift”). In a new study in NeuroImage, scientists at The Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at MIT and the University of London found that regardless of which specific neurons were involved, the overall electric field that was generated, provided a stable and consistent signal of the information the animals were tasked to remember.NEWS, “NEURONS ARE FICKLE. ELECTRIC FIELDS ARE MORE RELIABLE FOR INFORMATION.” AT THE PICOWER INSTITUTE (MARCH 14, 2022)
If the researchers’ model is verified in further research, memories are not “located” in any particular cells in the brain but in an electrical field generally. It will be interesting to see how this model meshes with a quantum approach to the brain.News, “Memory leans more on the brain’s electric field than on neurons” at Mind Matters News
Takehome: The neurons associated with our memories may change; it’s the electric field that holds the memories together, the neuroscientists say. That’s a very different picture of memories than the idea that memories are “stored” in the brain. It’s not quite like that … It’s closer to the quantum world.
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