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“Assemblies” of Brain Cells

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The concept of “storage” of memory gave rise to the idea that there is a psychical place in our brains where memories are stored, or at least, that memory-like other mental processes-is located in a specific are of the brain.

In the 1940’s, however, Karl Lashley showed that memory is not associated with any particular part of the brain, but is evenly distributed across the whole brain.  Lashley’s colleague, Donald Hebb, went onto describe the way we learn in terms of neural connections.

Every action or experience sets up a distinct pattern of connections.  Hebb explained, “cells that fire together, wire together”-if the action or experience is repeated, connections are strengthened and become “hardwired” in our brains as “assemblies” of cells.

We learn by making associations between different assemblies-for example, when a baby learns to associate the sound of its mother coming with the idea of seeing her face and being picked up.

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