Eric R. Kandel, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, examines whether the brain’s two major memory systems, implicit and explicit, have any common features. Implicit and explicit memory both have a short-term component lasting minutes, such as remembering the telephone number you just looked up, and a long-term component that lasts days, weeks, or a lifetime, such as remembering your mother’s birthday. Short-term memory is mediated by modifications of existing proteins, leading to temporary changes in the strength of communication between nerve cells. In contrast, long-term memory involves alterations of gene expression, synthesis of new proteins and growth of new synaptic connections.

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