A time for memories

Posted by ap507 at Jan 22, 2014 01:03 PM |
Research into timing mechanisms for memory formation to appear in academic journal Current Biology

A team of neuroscientists led by Professor Rodrigo Quian Quiroga (pictured) from the Centre for Systems Neuroscience, in collaboration with the Department of Neurosurgery at the University California Los Angeles (UCLA), are to reveal details of how the brain determines the timing at which neurons in specific areas fire to create new memories.

The study, which is to be published in the academic journal Current Biology, follows up on the group’s research into what was dubbed the ‘Jennifer Aniston neurons’ – neurons in the hippocampus and its surrounding areas within the brain that specifically fire in an ‘abstract’ manner when we see or hear a certain concept  - such as a person, an animal or a landscape - that we recognise.

The team's research is specifically concerned with examining how information about the external world - what we see, hear and touch - is represented by neurons in the brain and how this leads to the creation of our own internal representations and memories.

For example, we can easily recognize a person in a fraction of a second, even when seen from different angles, with different sizes, colours, contrasts and under strikingly different conditions. But how neurons in the brain are capable of creating such an ‘abstract’ representation, disregarding basic visual details, is only starting to be understood.