How Does Memory Work?

Definitions for Words I didn’t know

Neurons – A cell that sends out nerve impulses to parts of the body.

Synapses – A place where two nerve cells connect where impulses produced by a neurotransmitter pass by.

Neurotransmitter – A substance in the human body which carries impulses across synapses.

Ethernet – A system used to connect a number of computer systems to create a local  network

Cognitive – Being, relating to or involving conscious intellectual activity such as thinking or reasoning.

Summary of “How Does Memory Work”

The strength of the communication between neurons determine how a memory is formed. Neurons communicate with each other through synapses when they receive certain stimulation from the same neurotransmitters many times. Science Daily compares this to “plugging your laptop into an Ethernet cable — the strength of the network determines how the event is translated into your brain”. The repeated strengthening of the connections between neurons is called long-term potentiation (LTP). When the LTP is maintained a memory can be formed. LTP can alter strength between brain cell connections. LTP happens when cells continue to talk to each without stimulation from neurotransmitters. The ability to remember certain memories depends on the strength of the LTP. Some memories are more vivid and remembered than others because the LTP is stronger, the synapses you contact them through perform at a higher rate. The more the synapses in your brain are used, the stronger they get. Cognitive loss happens when the strong LTP is lost; when the synapses are not being used as often. Science Daily compares this to how when muscles are not being used they lose their strength and how when the brain is not being used it will also weaken.

Grade 9 Niigata Expeditions Reflection


My group setting up tents

My group setting up tents

This year, for Grade 9 Expeditions we went to Niigata. In this trip our main event was hiking, but we also learned


many wilderness skills such as setting up tents, cooking for food and many others. In this trip the main themes that we focused on improving were self – reliance, leadership, resilience and responsibility.

For lunch when we were hiking, we all had to bring different pieces of food that make up our lunch. For example, one person held the bread, another held the ham, and another held oranges. I had the role of holding bagels and mustard. I think this was a really important example of responsibility and self-reliance. This is because we if one of us forgot a part of the lunch, we wouldn’t be able to eat which was huge on out responsibility, and we had to be reliant on ourselves to bring the weight up the mountain.

Although I didn’t take many roles of leadership myself, I saw many great examples of leadership throughout the trip. For each hiking group we had a person with the role of a navigator, in my group our navigator took a wrong turn leading us to have to go back the way we came and to go the right way instead, resulting in more time and energy taken for the entire group. Seeing it made me learn many things. The most important was that being a leader is stressful because you have the pressure  and responsibility of the whole group on you.

Lastly for 4 days we went hiking. When hiking at first I felt very tired, as if I would fall over at any minute. However I felt bad to complain about it to anyone and so I just continued on up the mountain, staring at my feet in fatigue. However after around an hour I strangely didn’t feel tired anymore, just light-headed and numb all over. After finishing the 5-hour hike each day, I wondered how this was. It even made me want to push myself more in real life because this hike taught me that at first, things are painful and hard, but after a while you get used to it, numb and it doesn’t bother you as much anymore. On one of the days of hiking it was raining and the trek was very steep and slippery causing me to fall and slip into the mud many times. Although it was difficult and I had to take risks by climbing up paths I would usually avoid and push myself to go on which helped me improve my resilience.

Hiking in Steep Mountains

Hiking in Steep Mountains

This year’s expedition I found was very different to last years expedition to Minakami. Last year we weren’t very independent. However I feel as if this year’s trip was all about independence.  Our themes – resilience, self-reliance, leadership, responsibility are all things that you do independently. You may think that leadership is not, but leadership is actually one of the most independent skills because you have to be the one controlling the people, not be one of the people. Overall this was a trip that strengthened many skills of mine and taught me many lessons that could be used in real life.