The Memory Labyrinth: Systems, Processes, and Boundaries

  • Robert A. Veselis


This topical quote was continued as “in the end that’s all there is.” In a sense this highlights how memory makes us uniquely human. As the human mind is the most complex creation in the universe, it stands to reason that memory embodies to a large extent this complexity. When memory fails in the end for some of us, a large portion of our being human also fails. In dementia some basic forms of memory do still exist and function, and functioning begins to rely more and more on stereotypical unconscious rather than recent autobiographical memories. During our whole lives unconscious memories allow us to function in an ever changing world by, for instance, jumping at a loud (potentially dangerous) noise, moving a piece of food to our mouth, or choosing a candy for unknown reasons from among dozens available. These unconscious memories seem to be implemented in the very core of our brains, and the question of whether consciousness can exist in the absence of memories is one of terminology. Certainly, conscious memories can be absent in the presence of consciousness, but a sine qua non of consciousness is the presence of working memory (memory of the here and now, even if the here and now is never remembered).


Amygdala/physiology anesthetics Intravenous/pharmacology Anesthetics/pharmacology Brain/drug effects Consciousness Consciousness/drug effects Hippocampus/physiology Memory Memory/drug effects Memory, episodic Memory, short-term Memory, long-term Propofol/pharmacology Receptors, GABA-A/drug effects 


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© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.AnesthesiologyMemorial Sloan Kettering Cancer CenterNew YorkUSA

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