Transcript: 10 Questions on Memory | Dec 06, 2016

Music plays as an animated slate shows the title "10 questions."

Then, Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a gray suit, checkered pink shirt, and purple tie.

A caption on screen reads "10 questions on memory."

Steve says MEMORY IN COMPUTERS
MAY GET BIGGER AND BETTER ALL
THE TIME, BUT THE SAME JUST
CAN'T BE SAID FOR THE HUMAN
COMPUTER.
MEMORY IN PEOPLE IS FINITE,
FICKLE AND PERHAPS FLEETING.
FOR 10 QUESTIONS ON HUMAN
MEMORY, WE WELCOME GRAHAM
COLLINGRIDGE, A RECENT WINNER OF
THE BRAIN PRIZE, OFTEN REFERRED
TO AS THE NOBEL OF NEUROSCIENCE.

Graham is in his fifties, clean-shaven, with short wavy blond hair. He's wearing a gray suit and shirt.

Steve continues GRAHAM COLLINGRIDGE IS CHAIR OF
THE DEPARTMENT OF PHYSIOLOGY AT
THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO AND A
SENIOR INVESTIGATOR AT THE
LUNENFELD-TANENBAUM RESEARCH
INSTITUTE AT MOUNT SINAI HOSPITAL.
YOU READY FOR TEN QUESTIONS ON
MEMORY?

Graham says I'LL DO MY BEST.

Steve says WILL DOING MORE
PUZZLES HELP YOUR MEMORY?

The caption changes to "Graham Collingridge. University of Toronto."
Then, it changes again to "Brain exercise."

Graham says PROBABLY.
IT'S VERY HARD TO GET HARD
SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE ON THESE
THINGS BUT IT MAKES COMMON SENSE
TO MYSELF, SOMEONE WHO
UNDERSTANDS THE MOLECULAR BASIS
FOR LEARNING AND MEMORY, THAT
MORE USE OF THE SYNAPSES, THE
CONNECTIONS BETWEEN NERVE CELLS
TO MAKE THEM STRONGER, IS GOING
TO PROTECT THE BRAIN AGAINST
DEMENTIA.

Steve says BUT IT AIN'T
NECESSARILY SO.

Graham says IT'S
NOT NECESSARILY SO.
IT'S PROBABLY A GOOD THING TO
DO.
I WOULD RECOMMEND IT.

Steve says QUESTION 2: ARE
THEIR FOODS THAT CAN BOOST OUR BRAIN POWER?

The caption changes to "Brain foods."

Graham says AGAIN,
MOST PROBABLY THERE IS.
BUT EXACTLY WHICH ONES?
GETTING HARD SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE
ON THIS IS VERY DIFFICULT.
GENERALLY FOODS THAT ARE GOOD
FOR THE BODY ARE GOOD FOR THE MIND.

Steve says QUESTION 3: WHICH OF
THE FIVE SENSES IS OR ARE MOST
TIED TO MEMORY?

The caption changes to "The senses."

Graham says THAT
DEPENDS ON THE SPECIES THAT
ONE'S CONSIDERING.
IF YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT US,
PROBABLY VISION, BECAUSE WE'RE
VERY VISUALLY TIED TO ANIMALS.
BUT IF YOU TALK ABOUT RODENTS,
FOR EXAMPLE, IT'S PROBABLY THE
SENSE OF SMELL.

Steve says HUH.
QUESTION 4: WHY DO PEOPLE HAVE
SUCH CLEAR MEMORIES OF, FOR
EXAMPLE, WHERE THEY WERE ON
9-11, WHERE THEY WERE WHEN JOHN
F. KENNEDY WAS ASSASSINATED,
ET CETERA?

The caption changes to "Graham Collingridge. Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute."
Then, it changes again to "Indelible moments."

Graham says THAT'S
BECAUSE IT'S IMPORTANT FOR US...
WE CANNOT STORE EVERYTHING.
SO THERE HAS TO BE MECHANISMS
THAT ENABLE US TO REMEMBER VERY
IMPORTANT EVENTS.
IT'S PART OF NORMAL SURVIVAL.
IF SOMETHING IS REALLY
THREATENING, YOU NEED TO BE ABLE
TO LEARN AND REMEMBER IT, AND
BASICALLY 9-11, ALTHOUGH IT
MIGHT NOT BE PERSONALLY
THREATENING FOR US, IT IS
NONETHELESS A TRAUMATIC EVENT.
THERE ARE MECHANISMS IN THE
BRAIN WE PARTLY UNDERSTAND NOW
THAT SIGNALS TO THE MEMORY
PROCESS THAT THIS IS IMPORTANT.
WE'VE GOT TO REMEMBER THIS.

Steve says QUESTION 5: HOW DOES
POST TRAUMATIC STRESS RELATE TO
THE WAY THAT MEMORIES ARE FORMED?

The caption changes to "PTSD and the brain."

Graham says WELL,
AGAIN, POST TRAUMATIC STRESS IS
A FORM OF MEMORY OF AN IMPORTANT
EVENT, SO, FOR EXAMPLE, TAKE A
SOLDIER IN A VERY DIFFICULT
WAR-TIME SITUATION.
THEY HAVE TO FORM MEMORIES FOR
SURVIVAL.
WHEN THEY COME BACK, SOME OF
THOSE MEMORIES AREN'T ERASED AND
THEN THAT CAN LEAD TO A
STRESSFUL SITUATION.

Steve says QUESTION 6: WHY
CAN'T SOME PEOPLE REMEMBER THEIR
EARLY CHILDHOOD?

The caption changes to "Early childhood memories?"

Graham says WELL,
MOST PEOPLE CANNOT REMEMBER WHAT
HAPPENS IN THE FIRST FEW YEARS
OF LIFE BECAUSE THE PARTS OF THE
BRAIN THAT ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR
THOSE LONG-TERM MEMORIES ARE
STILL FORMING.
AND THE EMPHASIS ON EARLY
LEARNING AND MEMORY IS TO LEARN
THE ESSENTIAL SKILLS OF LIFE,
SUCH AS HOW TO WALK, TALK,
ET CETERA, ET CETERA.
SO THAT IS WHAT THE EMPHASIS ON
EARLY LEARNING AND DEVELOPMENT.

Steve says A LOT OF PEOPLE 6,
7, 8 HAVE TROUBLE ACCESSING THAT.

Graham says SPEAKING FOR MYSELF, I REMEMBER
LITTLE BITS OF WHEN I WAS 5, 6, AND 7.
THAT'S NORMAL HUMAN PROCESSES.

Steve says IS IT POSSIBLE TO
IMPLANT FALSE MEMORIES IN SOMEONE?

The caption changes to "False memories?"

Graham says AT THE
MOMENT, NO.
BUT IN PRINCIPLE, YES.

Steve says IT DOES HAPPEN, RIGHT?

Graham says WELL,
WHAT CAN HAPPEN, AND THIS IS
QUITE WORRYING, AND THAT IS
MEMORIES ARE NOT PERFECT.
SO IF YOU THINK YOU RECALL AN
EVENT, BUT AS YOU REMEMBER THAT
EVENT, IT CAN BE MODIFIED.
IT BECOMES LABILE AGAIN.
THIS HAS ISSUES OF THE
RELIABILITY, FOR EXAMPLE, OF
WITNESSES IN COURT CASES.
IF THEY'VE BEEN INTERVIEWED
SEVERAL TIMES ABOUT THE EVENT,
IT COULD ACTUALLY BE SLIGHTLY
MODIFIED IN THEIR OWN MIND.

Steve says QUESTION 8: DOES
ILLICIT DRUG USE DAMAGE MEMORY?

The caption changes to "This is your brain on drugs."

Graham says CAN DO.
PARTICULARLY DEPENDING ON THE
DRUGS.
HIGH TOES THC, CANNABIS,
MARIJUANA, WOULD DEFINITELY HAVE
AN IMPACT ON LEARNING MEMORY.

Steve says WHICH ARE THE WORST?

Graham says IN
TERMS OF LEARNING AND MEMORY,
THAT'S PROBABLY ONE OF THE
WORST.
SOME OF THE WORST DRUGS PROBABLY
NOT AFFECTING LEARNING AND
MEMORY.

Steve says SO IT'S OKAY TO DO
COCAINE BINGES.

Graham says IT
MIGHT HAVE OTHER EFFECTS.

Steve says HOW ABOUT ALCOHOL?

The caption changes to "Drunken stupor."

Graham says HOW
DOSE ALCOHOL WILL DEFINITELY
IMPAIR LEARNING AND MEMORY.
IN THE ACUTE PHASE, SOMEBODY HAS
A LOT TO DRINK, THEY'LL HAVE
PROBLEMS REMEMBERING THE
OCCASION.
CHRONICLE ALCOHOL ABUSE CAN LEAD
TO BIRTH DEFECTS.

Steve says HOW PERMANENTLY DOES
IT AFFECT MEMORY IF YOU ABUSE ALCOHOL?

Graham says IF
IT'S CHRONIC, THEN THE EFFECTS
ON THE UNBORN CHILD, ONCE
THEY'RE BORN, THAT COULD BE A
LIFETIME DISABILITY.

Steve says QUESTION 10: IF
YOU'RE THINKING OF PULLING AN
ALL-NIGHTER BEFORE AN EXAM,
SHOULD YOU AT LEAST TRY TO GET
SOME SLEEP?

The caption changes to "All-nighters?"

Graham says THERE'S INCREDIBLY GOOD EVIDENCE
NOW THAT SLEEP IS GOOD FOR THE
CONSOLIDATION OF MEMORIES.
SO IF YOU CRAM AND CRAM AND CRAM
AND DON'T SLEEP, YOU'RE GOING TO
STRUGGLE TO RECALL THE
INFORMATION, SO IT'S A WASTE OF
TIME.
I WOULD ALWAYS RECOMMEND TRYING,
IF POSSIBLE, TO GET AS MUCH
SLEEP AS POSSIBLE BEFORE AN EXAM.

Steve says CATCH A FEW WINKS IF
YOU CAN.

Graham says YES.

The caption changes to "Producer: Sandra Gionas, @sandragionas"

Steve says GOTCHA.
THANK YOU, GRAHAM, FOR THIS.

Graham says YOU'RE WELCOME.

Watch: 10 Questions on Memory