What is the name of the process for consolidating memories
Alison Preston, an assistant professor at the University of Texas at Austin's Center for Learning and Memory, recalls and offers an answer for this question.
Memory does not refer to a single aspect of our experience but rather encompasses a myriad of learned information, such as knowing the identity of the 16th president of the United States, what we had for dinner last Tuesday or how to drive a car.Initially, the hippocampus works in concert with sensory processing regions distributed in the neocortex (the outermost layer of the brain) to form the new memories.Within the neocortex, representations of the elements that constitute an event in our life are distributed across multiple brain regions according to their content.It has been assumed that once this occurs, the memory is "fixed" — a permanent, unchanging, representation.With new techniques, it has indeed become possible to observe these changes (you can see videos here).For example, visual information is processed by primary visual cortex in the occipital lobe at the rear of the brain, while auditory information is processed by primary auditory cortex located in the temporal lobes, which lie on the side of the brain.
When a memory is initially formed, the hippocampus rapidly associates this distributed information into a single memory, thus acting as an index to representations in the sensory processing regions.
Interestingly, such a disruption does not impair memory for facts and events that have already been consolidated.
Thus, an amnesiac with hippocampal damage would not be able to learn the names of current presidential candidates but would be able to recall the identity of our 16th president (Abraham Lincoln, of course! The role of sleep in memory consolidation is an ancient question dating back to the Roman rhetorician Quintilian in the first century A. Much research in the past decade has been dedicated to better understanding the interaction between sleep and memory. At the molecular level, gene expression responsible for protein synthesis is increased during sleep in rats exposed to enriched environments, suggesting memory consolidation processes are enhanced, or may essentially rely, on sleep.
"Consolidation" is a term that is bandied about a lot in recent memory research. Initially, information is thought to be encoded as patterns of neural activity — cells "talking" to each other.
Later, the information is coded in more persistent molecular or structural formats (e.g., the formation of new synapses).
Similar overnight improvements on virtual navigation tasks have been observed, which correlate with hippocampal activation during sleep.