27.02.2015 | 15:00
In the story of Marcel Proust “In Search of Lost Time” taste of tea with lemon prompts the narrator embark on a lengthy reflection on his past. This is a good, albeit extreme, example of what neuroscientists call mental time travel. A group of scientists decided to shed some light on how the brain processes these memories.
The researchers analyzed the brain activity of people who are tasked to remember certain things.
During the experiment, it was found out that the activity in a certain area of the brain allows us to predict the order in which volunteers recall information. “It’s important to understand exactly how the different work areas of the brain when we embark into memories – says assistant professor of psychology Sean Wormwood, who led the study. – Diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and epilepsy, have a negative impact on memory, and the resulting information will help us develop procedures to help patients retain their memories and identify side effects of psychotropic drugs. “
The fact that the main role in the formation and storage of memories playing the medial temporal lobe (MVD) of the brain, scientists already knew, but to answer the question of how the brain controls the accuracy of the information, they could not . Of course, not all the memories abound in detail, as is the case with “Raiders of the Lost Time” – is that people remember the event itself, but without any details.
A model that supports the memories
wormwood in collaboration with doctoral Kreygelem James and Neil Morton developed a model to track how MIA supports the memories. Thus, the activity of the front of the medial temporal lobe indicates that the memory of a particular event is preserved, but not “tells”, detailed memories it or not. But when it becomes active and the back region MIA, this means that a person experiences a journey through time in detail.
their model the researchers tested 20 volunteers – seven men and thirteen women – aged 18 to 35 years. They were given a list of 24 simple words – such as, for example, “horse”, “boat”, “window” and so on – and asked to think about the living or inanimate object is large or small, in parallel by measuring the level of their brain activity on magnetic resonance imaging. After a brief pause, the subjects were asked to name the same words they have just read, and in the same order in which they were listed.
The researchers found that if the MRI results show that the subjects remembered the smallest details, they should be the same as the answer to the “correct” list item. If the scan shows that only works the front of the medial temporal lobe, volunteers with high probability called the words from the list at random, and not that in which they are listed.
Thus, when the experiment participants were asked to reflect on the words “horse”, “window”, “robot” and “boat”, those in whom the word “horse” awakened memories are more likely named after the word ” window. ” If the word “horse” does not start a chain of memories, the next answer such a man could be, for example, the word “boat”. Model wormwood, Kreygelya and Morton also predicted that people are likely to begin to remember the words that are closer to the end of the list, but if the item has caused a strong emotional response and trigger a journey through time, in the middle of the list, and the following word will be somewhere nearby.
Brain puts labels
“This model shows that the brain puts on memories” tag “with reference to time. Travel back in time allow the brain to find the label, which helps to more accurately remember the points that are closest in time to the label,” – says Wormwood. Tags are similar to those that the computer is assigned to the file when you create them. When searching for specific files created in a certain period of time, the screen displays all the files belonging to this period. The human memory works on the same principle, but the processes occurring in our brain, much thinner – the memory can cause events not only in the requested period of time, but also those that are close by.
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