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Pathway for Visual Memory Consolidation and Forgetting.

Original student question:

Trace the memory system from stimuli into long-term memory. Discuss the features of each step and factors that enhance or impede information flow in each step of the process. Explain proactive and retroactive interference and how you might counteract their effects while studying in order to facilitate mazimum absorption of information into long-term memory. Explain other kinds of forgetting and discuss some strategies that can improve memory condolidation and/or retrieval.

Solution Preview

Of course there are several different types of stimuli that can be encoded into long-term memory. Auditory, tactile, visual, olfactory, gustatory, and vestibular are the major systems. In the following answer I'll outline one of the specific sensory pathways in it's entirety- the visual pathway.

Visual stimuli is first registered at the retina. Photoreceptors (rods and cones) transduce the light stimuli into neural signals. The activated photoreceptor phototransduces light stimuli and then passes the information on via neural signaling through several cellular layers directly behind the retina (includes bipolar, ganglion, horizontal cells). Stimuli from the left and right receptive fields are transmitted via the optic nerve to the lateral geniculate nuclei of the thalamus and then onto the primary visual cortex. The left hemisphere processes information from the right visual field, while the right hemisphere processes information from the left visual field. From there the information is passed onto higher visual processing areas that integrate the stimuli into perceived objects and movement. Within the primary visual cortex, visual input is processed in distinct modules based on what visual fields the input is coming from. In addition, the modules specialize in analyzing specific features of the visual input: i.e. movement, orientation, colour etc. This information is then passed onto the inferior temporal cortex, where the information is combined to produce the perception of three-dimensional objects. Damage to any structures in the visual sensory pathway mentioned so far will produce specific sensory impairments (i.e. 'blindspots' will occur, and therefore an inability to encode any information from specific visual fields, when ...

Solution Summary

The following answer provides an outline of visual memory consolidation from sensory input to long-term encoding. The features of each step are discussed and the effects to visual long-term memory of damage to various structures is discussed in detail.
In addition, proactive and retroactive interference and other types or theories on forgetting are described. Included are strategies for improving consolidation and/or retention of long-term memories drawing upon these theories of forgetting.