Memory is a mystery, but researchers are
starting to figure out how it works. This is Science
Today. Biologist Larry Cahill of the University
of California, Irvine is one of a growing number
of scientists who think our bodies and brains have
a special system that imprints really important
memories so they'll remain vivid. It works differently
from normal memory, activating only when you're
Cahill: This system got activated for example in people who are old enough who heard that John F. Kennedy was shot, this is now the archetypical and somewhat overused example.
Narrator: Cahill says the system has two components: the adrenal system and a structure in your brain called the amygdala.
Cahill: But the idea is that this same stress system basically fed back to people's brains and created memories of that event which were much stronger than, say, memories of what happened the previous day. Nobody can remember what they did before the day they heard Kennedy was shot, yet everyone seems to still today have these vivid memories. How did that happen? What did your brain do differently? This is what we study.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Steve Tokar.