Discover How the Brain Stores Memory and Information on

A groundbreaking study conducted by Dr. Tomás Ryan and his team of neuroscientists at Trinity College Dublin has unveiled new insights into the brain’s mechanisms of learning. The study, published in the journal Current Biology, sheds light on how learning involves the formation of new connectivity patterns between specific engram cells in various brain regions.

The brain is in a constant state of adaptability, continuously integrating new information from our daily experiences. The process of learning and memory formation has long captivated scientists.

Dr. Ryan’s research delves into understanding how our experiences modify our neurons, enabling the creation of new memories. The key lies in identifying the ‘engram,’ which is the brain’s change that stores a memory.

“Memory engram cells are groups of brain cells that, when activated by specific experiences, change themselves to hold information in our brain,” explained Clara Ortega-de San Luis, a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Ryan Lab. “The reactivation of these ‘building blocks’ of memories triggers the recall of the specific experiences associated with them. The question is, how do engrams store meaningful information about the world?”

To answer this question, the researchers employed a learning paradigm in which animals learned to identify and associate different similar contexts. Utilizing genetic techniques to label two distinct populations of engram cells in the brain for two discrete memories, they monitored the formation of new connections between these engram cells as learning occurred.

The study identified a molecular mechanism involving a specific protein in the synapse that regulates the connectivity between engram cells. This research provides direct evidence that changes in synaptic wiring connectivity between engram cells are a likely mechanism for memory storage in the brain.

Commenting on the significance of these findings, Dr. Ryan said: “Understanding the cellular mechanisms that allow learning to occur helps us to comprehend not only how we form new memories or modify those pre-existent ones but also advance our knowledge towards disentangling how the brain works and the mechanisms needed for it to process thoughts and information.”

“In 21st-century neuroscience, many of us like to think memories are being stored in engram cells, or their sub-components. This study argues that rather than looking for information within or at cells, we should search for information between cells, and that learning may work by altering the wiring diagram of the brain – less like a computer and more like a developing sculpture. In other words, the engram is not in the cell; the cell is in the engram,” he concluded. Subscribe to our newsletter for engaging articles, exclusive content, and the latest updates. Check us out on EarthSnap, a free app brought to you by Eric Ralls and


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