“To initiate a memory is almost like creating a word processing file on a computer,” explains researcher Matthew Walker, instructor of psychiatry at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School. “Once the file has been created, if you don’t hit the ‘save’ button before shutting off the computer it will be lost. Our new research helps explain the process in our brains that enables us to first create the memories and then to stabilize and ‘save’ the memories we’ve created.” The findings then go on to explain how memories can later be “edited” once they’ve been saved. “We first discovered that in order for a memory to be stabilized – and therefore become less vulnerable to competing information – it requires somewhere in the region of six waking hours,” he explains. “So, this is when your brain is hitting the ‘save’ key and putting the file on the ‘hard drive,’ but instead of being saved in a matter of seconds like your computer file, a memory needs several hours to be saved.” The research findings were published in the Oct. 9, 2003 issue of the journal Nature.