Re: Memory (was Review of "The Spike")

Anders Sandberg (
Fri, 15 Aug 1997 13:18:26 +0200 (MET DST)

On Thu, 14 Aug 1997, Eliezer S. Yudkowsky wrote:

> Anders Sandberg wrote:
> >
> > One thing I found in my neurochemistry reading is that choline
> > supplementation to pregnant rats makes their children better at
> > soliving spatial-memory tasks, apparently the choline has beneficial
> > effects on the development of their memory system. Should human
> > mothers supplement themselves with choline during pregnancy, even if
> > we don't know the full effects of this on the children?
> I'd be nervous. Algernon's Law - is choline hard to synthesize during
> pregnancy? Why wouldn't it be supplied naturally? Are we sure that choline
> isn't just activating one kind of memory which grows at the expense of others?

Good questions. The papers I have read (see below) are a bit unclear
on this. My impression is that a high choline level biases some
reactions in favor for developing more receptors of certain kinds and
likely more growth of cholinergic neurons. A wild guess would be that
some kinds of memory are improved at the expense of others, but it is
hard to tell what would happen in humans.

Warren H. Meck, Rebecca A. Smith, Christina L. Williams (1989)
Organizational Changes in Cholinergic Activity and Enhanced
Visuospatial Memory as a Function of Choline Administered Prenatally
or Postnatally or Both, Behavioral Neuroscience, 103: 6, 1234-1241

Warren H. Meck, Rebecca A. Smith, Chritina L. Williams (1987) Pre- ,
Postnatal Choline Supplementation Produces Long-rerm Facilitation of
Spatial Memory, Developmental Psychobiology, 21: 4, 339-353.

author = {Garner, Sanford C. AND Mar, Mei-Heng AND Zeisel, Steven H.},
title = {Choline Distribution and Metabolism in Pregnant Rats and Fetuses Are Influenced by the Choline Content of the Maternal Diet},
journal = {J. Nutrition},
year = {1995},
volume = 125,
number = 11,
month = {Nov},
pages = {2851--2858}

> Human memory is so mucky and fragile that we Information-Age types
> use computers as "ontological stabilizers".

Shoulden't that be "epistemic stabilizers"?

Anders Sandberg Towards Ascension!
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