Research News

UW-Madison's Vlach explains how your brain forms memories

December 18, 2015

How does your brain form memories?

UW-Madison’s Haley Vlach sheds light on this interesting topic in the Dec. 14 installment of the Blue Sky Science series.

Haley Vlach
Vlach is an assistant professor with the School of Education’s No. 1-ranked Department of Educational Psychology and director of the Learning, Cognition & Development Lab. She begins by explaining: “The first step in forming a memory is called encoding, and encoding starts with perception. If you remember back to the first time you met your best friend, you encoded or perceived a lot of information about them.”

Vlach continues: “When you first saw your friend, information from your eyes went to the visual cortex of the brain, which is in the occipital lobe at the very back of the brain. If your friend said their name or giggled, that auditory information would go to the auditory cortex, the area of the brain around the ears.

“All different types of information that you perceive go to different parts of the brain.”

To learn more, make sure and check out Vlach’s entire written response in the Dec. 14 Wisconsin State Journal.

Or check out Vlach’s video explanation produced by the Morgridge Institute for Research.

Blue Sky Science is a collaborative project between the Wisconsin State Journal and the Morgridge Institute for Research. The questions are posed by visitors to the Discovery Building. The Blue Sky Science team then sets out to find an expert to answer the questions.