Effects of Age-Related Random and Coordinated Loss of Memory Engrams on Error Rates During Memory Retrieval

  • Bernard L. Strehler
Part of the Advances in Behavioral Biology book series (ABBI, volume 23)


Age-related memory dysfunction and attendant changes in that curious entity called “self”, as well as its perception by other selves and by itself, are among the most distressing of the changes that are intrinsic to the aging process. The amelioration of age related memory defects would seem best based on an understanding of how memory engrams are stored within and retrieved from the remarkable machine, the brain is. This paper briefly presents the essence of a mechanistic theory of memory storage and retrieval within and from the cerebral cortex, outlines potential sources of memory deficits implicit in this model and relates the above to recent anatomical, physiological, and mathematical observations. In particular, the implications of these observations with respect to differential effects between random cell attrition during aging and non-randomized cell loss (localized infarcts, senile dementia, etc.) are considered.


Memory Retrieval Memory Space Senile Dementia Vertical Shaft Dendritic Shaft 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Andrew, W. Cellular Changes with Age. Charles C. Thomas, Springfield, 111., 74 pp., 1952.Google Scholar
  2. Brizzee, K.R., Ordy, J.M., Hansche, J. and Kaack, B. Quantitative Assessment of Changes in Neuron and Glia Cell Packing Density and Lipofuscin Accumulation with Age in the Cerebral Cortex of a Non-Human Primate. In: Neurobiology of Aging, (Eds. R. D. Terry and S. Gershon), Raven Press, N.Y., pp. 229–244, 1976.Google Scholar
  3. Brody, H. An Examination of Cerebral Cortex and Brain-Stem Aging. In: Neurobiology of Aging, (Eds. R.D. Terry and S. Gershon), Raven Press, N.Y., 1976.Google Scholar
  4. Eccles, J. The Understanding of the Brain. McGraw-Hill, N.Y., 1973.Google Scholar
  5. Ellis, R.S. Norms for some Structural Changes in the Human Cerebellum from Birth to Old Age. J. Comp. Neurol. 32:1–34, 1920.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Hubel, D.H. and Wiesel, T.N. An Anatomical Demonstration of Columns in the Monkey Striate Cortex. Nature 221:747–750, 1969.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Johnson, L., Johnson, R. and Strehler, B. Cardiac Hypertrophy, Aging and Changes in Cardiac Ribosomal RNA Gene Dosage in Man. J. Mol. Cell. Cardiol. 7:125–133, 1975.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Johnson, R., Chrisp, C. and Strehler, B. Selective Loss of Ribosomal RNA Genes During the Aging of Post-Mitotic Tissues. Mech. Age. Dev. 1:183–198, 1972.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Lashley, K. Brain Mechanisms and Intelligence. U. of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1929.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Mann, D. and Yates, P. Lipoprotein Pigments—Their Relationship To Aging in the Human Nervous System: I. The Lipofuscin Content of Nerve Cells. Brain 97:481–488, 1974.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Peters, A. and Walsh, T.M. A Study of the Organization of Apical Dendrites in the Somatic Seneory Cortex of the Rat. J. Comp. Neur. 144:253–268, 1972.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Reichel, W., Hollander, J., Clark, J. and Strehler, B. Lipofuscin Pigment Accumulation as a Function of Age and Distribution in the Rodent Brain. J. Gerontol. 23:71–77, 1968.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Scheibel, M.E. and Scheibel, A.B. Elementary Processes in Selected Thalamic and Cortical Subsystems—the structural substrates. In: The Neurosciences Second Study Program, (F. O. Schmitt, Ed. in Chief), The Rockefeller University Press, N.Y., pp. 443–457, 1970.Google Scholar
  14. Strehler, B. Information Handling in the Nervous System: An Analogy to Molecular Genetic Coder-Decoder Mechanisms. Persp. Biol. Med. 12:584–612, 1969.Google Scholar
  15. Strehler, B. Molecular and Systemic Aspects of Brain Aging: Psycho-biology of Informational Redundancy. In: Neurobiology of Aging, (Eds. R.D. Terry and S. Gerhson), Raven Press, N.Y., pp. 281–311, 1976.Google Scholar
  16. Strehler, B. Genetic and Neural Aspects of Redundancy and Aging. In: Proc. 6th European Congress on Basic Research in Gerontology, Weimar, DDR, Apr. 1976, (Ed. U. J. Schmitt), in press.Google Scholar
  17. Szentagothai, J. The “Module-Concept” in Cerebral Architecture. Brain Res. 95:475–496, 1975.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bernard L. Strehler
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Biological SciencesUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

Personalised recommendations