Making Memories: Why Time Matters

Kelley, Paul; Evans, M. D. R. and Kelley, Jonathan (2018). Making Memories: Why Time Matters. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 12, article no. 400.



In the last decade advances in human neuroscience have identified the critical importance of time in creating long-term memories. Circadian neuroscience has established biological time functions via cellular clocks regulated by photosensitive retinal ganglion cells and the suprachiasmatic nuclei. Individuals have different circadian clocks depending on their chronotypes that vary with genetic, age, and sex. In contrast, social time is determined by time zones, daylight savings time, and education and employment hours. Social time and circadian time differences can lead to circadian desynchronization, sleep deprivation, health problems, and poor cognitive performance. Synchronizing social time to circadian biology leads to better health and learning, as demonstrated in adolescent education. In-day making memories of complex bodies of structured information in education is organized in social time and uses many different learning techniques. Research in the neuroscience of long-term memory (LTM) has demonstrated in-day time spaced learning patterns of three repetitions of information separated by two rest periods are effective in making memories in mammals and humans. This time pattern is based on the intracellular processes required in synaptic plasticity. Circadian desynchronization, sleep deprivation, and memory consolidation in sleep are less well-understood, though there has been considerable progress in neuroscience research in the last decade. The interplay of circadian, in-day and sleep neuroscience research are creating an understanding of making memories in the first 24-h that has already led to interventions that can improve health and learning.

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