The Moving Finger
Excerpt from the court reporter's log, Leena Pagang et al vs MA Kavanagh, 3 September 2038. Dr Norma Edelhart, witness "...and graduated from Cornell University Medical School in 2017. I served as chairman of the neurobiology department at the University of New Mexico Medical Center for six years, and three years as president of the National Institute of Mental Health in Washington. Over the last four years I have served as national coordinator and director of research for the Memory Project." Ignacio Esquibel, defense attorney "Your honor, at this time the defense motions that Dr Norma Edelhart be recognized by the court as an expert in neurobiology and mental health issues in general, and on the Memory Project in particular." Jean FitzBrien, prosecutor "The prosecution has no objections, your honor." The Honorable Nathan Chisum, judge "So ruled. The defense may proceed." Mr Esquibel "Thank you, your honor...Dr Edelhart, please explain to the court the purpose of the Memory Project." Dr Edelhart "Essentially, our purpose was to map the locations of long-term memory storage within the human brain, and to reproduce in detail the physical structure of that memory." Mr Esquibel "What do you mean by 'long-term memory', doctor?" Dr Edelhart "Each of us has essentially two types of memory: working and long-term. We use working memory to function in the day-to-day world. It helps us plan, manipulate our thoughts, perform mental calculations, and so on. It draws on both our perceptions and our long-term memories for these tasks. In this respect, working memory is similar to a computer's temporary random access memory, or RAM. "To extend this analogy, long-term memory is similar to a computer's hard disk, the permanent memory storage area of the machine. It is a recording of our experiences, our training, our erudition. It is the basis of our individuality as human beings. "When we remember an experience...a ride on a bicycle, the taste of an apple, the sound of a symphony...the working memory draws the recollections from long-term storage for our examination." Mr Esquibel "And the purpose of the Memory Project is to 'map' this memory? What do you mean by that?" Dr Edelhart "Well, long-term memory is very elusive. You see, most of the functions of the mind can be traced to specific areas and structures within the brain. For instance, images detected by our eyes are processed at the back of the brain. Automatic activities such as breathing, the beating of the heart, and the digestion of food are regulated at the top of the spinal cord. Even working memory can be traced to specific areas at the front of the brain. "Long-term memory is different. It can't be traced to any one specific area - rather, it is spread out over the surface of the brain, extending to a certain extent into the interior. For this reason, we refer to it as the 'memory web'. The purpose of the Memory Project was to trace the specific sites of the memory web throughout the brain, that are constant from one person to the next. Once this was accomplished, we then endeavored to develop methods for mapping the locations and structures of memories within a single individual, down to the cellular level."