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Pay Attention to Your Life, Your Memory Depends on It

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The mystics say to “be present”, and now science gives us a good reason why.  The basics of neuroplasticity explain that focused attention combined with experience enable us to create neural maps.  This means when we pay attention to the experience we’re having we encode that experience much more strongly, making it an accessible memory down the road.  Recent research at MIT sheds more light on this process. When we choose to pay attention we hit a sweet spot of neurotransmitter flow in our brains which involves a delicate balance of dopamine, norepinephrine and acetylcholine.  “If you are paying attention to something, which causes this release of acetylcholine, that leads to a long-lasting memory of that stimulus. If you remove the astrocytes, that doesn’t happen,” Sur says.  What you pay attention to becomes your memory of the world. What are you choosing to pay attention to today?

 

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