A comparative approach to the principal mechanisms of different memory systems
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- Rensing, L., Koch, M. & Becker, A. Naturwissenschaften (2009) 96: 1373. doi:10.1007/s00114-009-0591-0
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The term “memory” applies not only to the preservation of information in neuronal and immune systems but also to phenomena observed for example in plants, single cells, and RNA viruses. We here compare the different forms of information storage with respect to possible common features. The latter may be characterized by (1) selection of pre-existing information, (2) activation of memory systems often including transcriptional, and translational, as well as epigenetic and genetic mechanisms, (3) subsequent consolidation of the activated state in a latent form (standby mode), and (4) reactivation of the latent state of memory systems when the organism is exposed to the same (or conditioned) signal or to previous selective constraints. These features apparently also exist in the “evolutionary memory,” i.e., in evolving populations which have highly variable mutant spectra.