Sunday, April 18

A binary code manages memory in the brain

A binary code manages memory in the brain

A binary code manages memory in the brain

According to new research at the University of Kent, a vast network of “memory molecules” that store information and function as on-off switches is embedded in each and every synapse in the brain, representing a complex binary code. The network stores data in the brain, while memories are written in the form of molecules on synaptic scaffolds.

According to a release, the theory developed by Dr. Benjamin T. Goult, from the School of Biosciences of the aforementioned British university, is based on the activity of a group of protein molecules, called talins. They are presented as high molecular weight proteins, concentrated in certain sectors of the cells.

The talinas have “switches” that change shape in response to the pressures that the cell receives from its environment. They have a binary functioning, since they present two stable states: 0 and 1. This means that they can be switched off or “asleep” and, at another time, be turned on or activated.

The pattern of binary information stored in each molecule depends on the previous entry, working in a similar way to a computer when we tell it to store the changes made to a document, for example. Information stored in this binary format is updated through subtle variations and changes that take place in each cell.

Binary switches

Based on Goult’s work, recently published in the journal Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience, the talin protein network is constituted as a series of binary switches with the potential to store information and encode memory. This network is located at the synapses or junctions between neurons in the brain.

The aforementioned binary coding would be executed permanently in each neuron and would extend to all cells. In short, the scientist believes that this “computer code” coordinates all brain activity and the entire organism in general. According to Goult, this theory could be the beginning of a new understanding of brain function and, therefore, be applied to new treatments for mental illness.

Following the reasoning of the specialist from the University of Kent, if memory is stored in a sector of the synapses occupied by talin molecules, this means that all life experiences and environmental conditions of a living being, from birth until death, they could be “written” and stored in the aforementioned binary code.

This would create a kind of “mathematical representation” of each unique life, which in turn would be constantly updated as long as the biological function lasts. Called MeshCODE, Goult’s theory tries to unify the concept of data storage in animals, indicating that there is a mechanism for reading and writing information in binary code, which is permanently updated.

Like computers

For the scientist, the functioning of memory has similarities with the first computers. “In many respects, the brain resembles Charles Babbage’s early mechanical computers and his analytical engine. There is a calculation process in the cell in response to chemical and electrical signaling, which coordinates its actions and determines its state ”, he indicated.

Will this theory be the beginning of a new way of understanding the memory operation and other brain functions? Can you conclude the discussion about how memories are stored? What implications could it have in the field of neuroscience and in terms of its therapeutic application?


The Mechanical Basis of Memory – The MeshCODE theory. Benjamin T. Goult. Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience (2021).DOI:

Photo: Shahadat Rahman en Unsplash.

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