Not a Vulcan Mind Meld…But Close

When Trinidad awakes from regeneration under the sea, she has no memory of her many lives. Forty years earlier, she’d transferred them to her brother. All that remains are her childhood memories and important skills and talents. Like humans, she remembers little of her infancy but as they age, Nadirians have extraordinary memories that can last for eternity–if they are transferred before regeneration.

Just like Vulcans can meld minds in Enterprise, Nadirian Memory Keepers place hands on the giver’s skull–but where should they place those fingertips? A diagram of the brain can help determine the logical placement. Your grandmother learned that memory is kept throughout the brain as a result of experiments with rats. Your mother learned that the hippocampus stores your memories. But your teacher might have told you that short-term memories are kept there and then transferred to the frontal lobes for long-term storage.

A new study, led by Christine Smith and Larry Squire at the University of California at San Diego, now provides evidence that the age of a memory determines the extent to which we are dependent on the frontal cortex and hippocampus for recalling it. In other words, the location of a recollection in the brain varies based on how old that recollection is.

In Trinidad’s case where her Memory Keeper takes both long-term memory (past fifty lives) and short-term memory (last forty years), the Keeper’s fingertips should be on top of the skull and above the ear where the hippocampus, buried within the folds of the temporal lobe, is located. How Spock could extract memories through fingers on someone’s face is beyond me. I think my way–on top of the head with pinky above the ear–is much more effective, don’t you think?

To the Trekkies out there: Please explain why Star Trek got it wrong–or did they?

brain map

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