Restoring Active Memory Replay or RAM Replay is a 24 months research project carried out by DARPA. RAM Replay aims to help individuals to recall specific events or learn new skills by thoroughly understand the specific mechanism of memory storage and recalls. And through novel and innovative computational means, investigator can now better understand the process of memory formations and recalling; they can better identify which are the brain parts that are involved in memory and how much each individual parts contribute to the process.
In this study, participants will be subjected to test by DoD-relevant tasks insteads of computational modelling to ensure real-world relevancy. Data gleaned from such tests will be used to help war veteran recover from memory loss.
“Military personnel carry a growing responsibility to recount, report and act upon knowledge gleaned from previous experiences, and how well those experiences are recalled can make all the difference in how well these individuals perform in combat and other challenging situations,” said Dr. Justin Sanchez, DARPA program manager. But stored memories are not inert, Sanchez noted, and are subject to subtle forces over time. “The timeframe between a given experience and subsequent reporting or use of the memory can range from hours to months to years. During this time, physiological, environmental and behavioral factors can affect the process by which an individual’s representation of the experience is consolidated into memory, potentially affecting the accessibility and accuracy of the memory and one’s ability to make use of ‘lessons learned’ later on.”
When memories are formed, biological process are needed to create and strengthen neural connections. And memory recalling process requires multiple mechanisms which involves different neural network that controls emotions, attention and perception. Memory storage and recall capabilities can be improved through consolidation in which, representations of experiences are integrated with other older memories.
DARPA scientists have discovered that before memories can be consolidated with long term memories, memories are repeatedly activated after initial encoding during conscious and unconscious state of mind too. Scientists have observed that neural activity were strikingly similar to initial experiences during memory consolidation, suggesting that neural replay play a key roles in memory consolidation.
Quality of memory cosolidation depends on the time and frequency of neural replay occurances. And during specific phases of sleep, certain sensory ques or transcranial stimulation can help increase the frequence of neural replay and thereby improving memory consolidation during sleep. Also, environment can influence how much impact neural replay have on neural circuits and the accuracy of such neural replays. As such, scientists can modify our surroundings and sleep to better the positive impacts neurals replays have on our memory cosolidation process.
“Unconventional memory aids are everywhere today, from simple mnemonics to sophisticated smartphone apps. But many of these techniques focus on just a few of the many aspects that influence memory,” said Sanchez. “In the long run, we hope RAM Replay will identify core memory-strengthening mechanisms and give rise to a generalizable set of solutions applicable to the challenge of memory reliability in an increasingly information-dense world. That could benefit civilians and Service members alike in areas as diverse as general education, job retraining and battlefield awareness.”