We all know how oblivion is formed. Our minds are designed to leave certain events behind up to the moment when they become a distant point in our past that slowly fades away until complete degradation. Now, doctors have discovered how memories are being formed rather than forgotten.
But how does a new memory take shape?
Researchers have managed to discover the link created in people’s brains which allows for memories to take shape. The process involves a set of neurons in a specific area of the brain that change their behavior the moment when someone associates a particular person to a specific place. The group of neurons instantly fire the moment when a new memory is formed.
The researchers have concentrated on examining neurons in the medial temporal lobe, associated with a term known as “episodic memory”.
Episodic memory stores unique experiences and relies on the rapid formation of new associations in the brain.
The term explains the brain’s capacity to consciously recall past events and situations such as meeting an old friend in an unexpected place.
To demonstrate their findings, researchers conducted the study by presenting images of celebrities, associated with particular places. After that, the study subjects were presented the settings alone and they concluded that the same neurons that fired for the image of each face also fired when patients were shown the only settings previously associated with the faces.
This research is a complementary initiative of a study that began more than 10 years ago, when scientists discovered the neurons in the medial temporal lobe, responsible with memorizing a specific place, related to a particular person or moment.
Memory forming processes could help in further Alzheimer’s studies
The processes related to memory that take place in the medial lobe may help to better explain memory loss and lead to new ways in which Alzheimer’s could be prevented or treated.
The surprising study is the landmark of a basic code that is extremely explicit at the level of individual neurons in the human brain. Alzheimer’s is an affection that juggles with memory and brain processes and if scientists become aware of all the associations in the brain leading to memory formation, maybe Alzheimer’s can somewhere in the future be reversed and memories could be brought back.
The surprising research was conducted in 14 patients who suffered from severe epilepsy. The study subjects had electrodes implanted in their brains, for scientists to be able to identify the seizure focus for consequent surgical intervention. The brain recordings that consisted of more than 600 temporal lobe pictures took five years of research, analysis and decoding and involved showing the patients pictures of people associated with particular places, to construct a meaningful association modeling the episodic memory of meeting a person in a particular place, said researcher Matias J Ison, lecturer in bioengineering at the University of Leicester in UK.
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