Are Memories Stored in the Brain?

Source: Rupert Sheldrake YT Channel, December 20, 2022

After more than a hundred hours of private conversations on Zoom, Rupert and physicist turned neuroscientist Alex Gómez-Marín meet in person to discuss some of their favourite themes.

In this installment, they address the problem of memory localization. Rather than taking for granted that memories are “stored” inside our heads and rushing to speculate about where and how, they instead entertain the idea that memories could be both everywhere and nowhere in particular – memories are in time, not in space. To make such thoughts more thinkable, they discuss the recurrent historical failures to find actual memory traces in brains and bring forth some of the pioneering ideas of the French philosopher Henri Bergson in the context of current neuroscience. They also discuss concrete experiments to test such hypotheses and reflect more widely on the nature of form and the idea that the laws of nature may be more like habits than eternal edicts. They end by discussing the need for scientific pluralism.

0:00 Questioning the question
0:55 Back to Bergson & James
3:02 Metaphors we think by
5:42 But haven’t we already found them?
7:03 Finding the engram: a successful failure
10:03 From localization of function to dynamical patterns
14:41 Putting ideas to test
15:42 The Morphic Resonance hypothesis
19:31 Where are the laws of nature, then?
21:22 A landscape of everyday anomalies
26:01 Wordle, rats, and worms
27:43 A plea for scientific pluralism
31:10 A gift to the world

You can listen to a former Sheldrake & Gomez-Marin encounter on The Future Scientist conversation series here:
- YouTube
… and a plea for a Bergsonian neuroscience here :
- YouTube

This conversation was held on December 8th 2022 at Sheldrake’s house in London.

Dr Alex Gomez-Marin, PhD, is a Spanish theoretical physicist turned neuroscientist. He was a research fellow at the EMBL Center for Genomic Regulation and at the Champalimaud Center for the Unknown in Lisbon. He is currently the head of the Behavior of Organisms Laboratory at the Instituto de Neurociencias de Alicante, as an Associate Professor of the Spanish Research Council. He is also the director of The Pari Center in Italy. https://behavior-of-organisms.org

Dr Rupert Sheldrake, PhD, is a biologist and author best known for his hypothesis of morphic resonance. At Cambridge University he worked in developmental biology as a Fellow of Clare College. He was Principal Plant Physiologist at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics and From 2005 to 2010 was Director of the Perrott-Warrick project, Cambridge. https://www.sheldrake.org