If you asked me what’s my favourite podcast of all time, I would have easily throned this particular one in my top 3. As a prove, I’ve re-listened to it more than 4 times, that’s how good the narrative and how fascinating the story and the research behind it.
What is memory, really? How to recall it?
Memory is not abstract, you guys. It’s a physical thing made of protein which creates traces in your brain. To simply put, this protein creates connection between one of your brain cell to another ones. Imagine it like bridges all over your brain, forming superb architecture.
So if you played a specific tone to a rat and later shocked it with mild electrocution, in its brain bunch of neurons would start making a connection between these two triggers. Probably scientists did this several times until this rat will be able to associate that tone with what will come afterwards, a discomfort and mildly pain electrocution.
It gets more interesting. Apparently scientists have created an amnesia-inducing drug that can target and block this protein to build any new memories. Remember, no protein means no memory.
Now let’s say you have a new rat, rat B. If you injected him with this chemical drug, and you did the same tone and shock electrocution experiment as you did with rat A, rat B will neither remember nor learn that after the tone he will get electrocuted. He can remember his past memories, but…
The rat won’t be able to form any new memory after the injection
The experiment gets even more interesting. These scientists got an idea, what will happen to rat A if they injected the drug right at the moment when he’s trying to recall his memory of the tone? The answer may skew your perspective on how your brain recall and reminisce a past memory. I strongly urge you to find the answer from this episode by yourself. It’s a fantastic blend of scientific reports with clever use of radio sound and mixing you could ever hear.
The most severe case of amnesia
If scientific narration is not a thing for you, the last part of this episode will make it up. It’s a real story of a guy name Clive, who in 1985 got a brain infection which wipe off (almost) all his past memories and even worse put him in a inability state to preserve any new memories. His memory can only span for a few seconds, literally. However, amidst forgetting everything, surprisingly there are two things remain intact: his love to his wife and music.
Left: Clive and his wife, Deborah. Right: Clive with his music
You can skip the first part of the episode and jump right in Clive's story