Why is the word engram a perfect name for our brain-tapping product? The real word describes a real process that occurs every instant in the brain. Engrams are always active in waking hours, and gain strentgh and connection with each use. That sounds like a good physical model to build a digital smartypants app upon. Let the process unwind from here:

The Biological Engram Process

Neurons to the Stars

Studies find that neurons activate as we form a memory and reactivate as we remember it, strengthening the connections. If a memory is jogged or primed, it becomes ingrained – hard-wired into the back end of the mind after multiple firings. That makes sense – why use precious energy and resources if not necessary?

Technically, parts of the chromatin (protein, RNA, and DNA) are reorganized in such a way that made the genes in that DNA more accessible to genetic elements that can increase the activation of genes.

“Semon found evidence in the way that different parts of the body relate to each other involuntarily, such as “reflex spasms, co-movements, sensory radiations,” to infer distribution of “engraphic influence.” Richard Semon - wikipedia

The engram process is clearly important for much downstream thought processing. There are demonstrated correlations of neuronal activities to the ingest, remembering and recalling of information used in digital processing systems:

  • Encoding

  • Retention

  • Retrieval

  • Activity

Expanding the memory process to fit a business process progression model, there are obvious parallels to the goals and processes of productivity software development:

  • Observation

  • Orientation

  • Decisions

  • Actions

  • Measurement

  • Reporting

In our case Stage One product development focused on acquiring user data and relating data points to physical actions (what to do with the data item?).

How to Model Information Tools on the Biological Engram Process?

engram Trace-Place Replace

Memory formation is not instantaneous … the act of remembering is crucial to locking a memory into the brain. *Quanta article

In a sentence, this captures much of the mindset that Project Brainstorm was going to be about. You can have a thousand thoughts a day, but most get washed away with the next one. If you don’t take down that thought somewhere - somehow, chances are it will not be remembered as well later on.

There is a fair comparable to a thought-recording digital product that produces a physical trace with reinforced data – a silicon-embedded footprint to return to for further orientation and direction rather than organic. In either case, new memories are “use it or lose it” moments in time. We all get to choose what is most important to us, and our life literally follows those choices.

Thoughts come on rapid fire whether you are prepared or not. Pen and paper are perfect for instant note-taking, but is a dead end street (not to mention a dead tree) that may require duplication for long term use. A digital engram capture tool needs to be fast, clear to the point, and not get in the way of the idea in the first place.

Get the thought out in its immediacy – decide what to do a little or a lot later. Worry about how to turn those thoughts and inputs into action later. Basic ideas posted in the form of notes can turn into tasks and events to set for yourself and others. These are easy but effective steps to filling your day with activities that matter at the right time.

Think Twice, Measure More

Rather than try to create the be-all-to-end-all program, a personal brainstorm tool that front-ends everything else out there seems to be very necessary in this world of segmented and siloed online marketplaces. The mental recall process can be directed digitally in a wide variety of manners – the key point is going to be in facilitating that second step of the productive process after the primary input.

Understanding at the molecular level how the brain cements some memories and loses others could create opportunities to influence aging, learning and other essential processes. *Quanta article

Similarly, an easy to use life-minder application could be advanced and used to deliver influential content, such as education/training courses, health and wellness, financial fitness and limitless plug-ins given the supported open-source community.

That is a lot to think about – good thing we are building a tool to dream such things in real time.

engram is an open source knowledge management application designed to help individuals convert their ideas into actions and to help educate those interested in software development.

Additional Reading

Brain Cell DNA Refolds Itself to Aid Memory Recall - Quanta Magazine - Quanta Magazine

All Your Memories Are Store by One Weird Ancient Molecule - GetPocket

Memory Engram Cells Have Come of Age - Cell.com

Can We Understand Memories at the Molecular Level? - Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

Randy Berg

Randy is thankful we no longer need to paint on cave walls and carve in stone to pass on the message.