A significant short-term biochemical change is the covalent modification of pre-existing proteins in order to modify synaptic connections that are already active. This allows data to be conveyed in the short term, without consolidating anything for permanent storage. From here a memory or an association may be chosen to become a long-term memory, or forgotten as the synaptic connections eventually weaken.
The switch from short to long-term is the same concerning both implicit memory and explicit memory. This process is regulated by a number of inhibitory constraints, primarily the balance between protein phosphorylation and dephosphorylation.17 Finally, long term changes occur that allow consolidation of the target memory. These changes include new protein synthesis, the formation of new synaptic connections and finally the activation of gene expression in accordance with the new neural configuration.18 The encoding process has been found to be partially mediated by serotonergic interneurons, specifically in regard to sensitization as blocking these interneurons prevented sensitization entirely. However, the ultimate consequences of these discoveries have yet to be identified.
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Furthermore, the learning process has been known to recruit a variety of modulatory transmitters in order to create and consolidate memories. These transmitters cause the nucleus to initiate processes required for neuronal growth and long term memory, mark specific synapses for the capture of long-term processes, regulate local protein synthesis and even appear to mediate attentional processes required for the formation and recall of memories.