Repost from the excellent site neurosciencenews.com:
Human memory is the result of different mental processes, such as learning, remembering and forgetting. However, these distinct processes cannot be observed directly. Researchers at the University of Basel now succeeded at describing them using computational models. The scientists were thus for the first time able to identify gene sets responsible for steering specific memory processes. Their results have been published in the current issue of the journal PNAS.
Thanks to our memory we are able to learn foreign languages, solve exams and remember beautiful moments from the past. To ensure optimal memory performance, several distinct cognitive processes have to cooperate. Information is first learned and then stored. Later, when we want to remember them, we depend on a properly functioning retrieval process.
If all these various memory processes are controlled by the same or by different genes and molecular mechanisms has so far been mostly unknown. One reason for this, is the fact that many of these processes are not amenable to direct measurement and have therefore remained inaccessible for science.