Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Memories Light Up The Corners Of Our Minds

Date:
March 2, 2004
Source:
Massachusetts Institute Of Technology
Summary:
Studies using magnetic resonance imaging to examine the living human brain show that certain brain areas "light up" as an individual is learning information.

Memories do indeed light up the corners of our mind, just as the songwriter said.

Scientific evidence for this notion comes from studies using magnetic resonance imaging to examine the living human brain. These studies show that certain brain areas "light up" as an individual is learning information.

Scientists had previously established that people remember emotionally charged events and facts better than neutral ones. Now researchers at MIT have discovered that memories with an element of arousal or excitement are remembered by a different area of the brain--the amygdala--from memories of a calmer nature, which are remembered by the prefrontal cortex. These findings, published in the journal PNAS Online on Feb. 23, are an important step in understanding how the brain makes memories. Scientists hope this information will one day lead to a treatment for memory loss and learning impairments.

For the study, Elizabeth Kensinger, a researcher in MIT's Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, and Suzanne Corkin, professor of behavioral neuroscience in the same department, asked 14 men and 14 women to "learn" 150 words related to events, while the participants brains were being scanned in an fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) procedure. Some of the words represented arousing events, such as "rape" or "slaughter." Others were nonarousing, such as "sorrow" and "mourning."

They then tested the participants to see which of the words they remembered having been shown. Kensinger and Corkin found that on average, people remembered more of the arousing words than the others. They also discovered that the hippocampus was active while all the words were learned, but the amygdala and prefrontal cortex were active only for learning the arousing and nonarousing words, respectively.

"This result suggests that stress hormones, which are released as part of the response to emotionally arousing events, are responsible for enhancing memories of those events," said the researchers. "We think that detailed cognitive processing may underlie the enhanced memory for the nonarousing events."

The next steps in this research will be a similar study using words denoting positive events, both arousing and nonarousing, and a study to examine the fate of emotional memory in aging.

The researchers used the brain scanning facilities at the Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, a collaborative research center founded by MIT, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. The National Science Foundation and the National Institute on Aging funded the Kensinger and Corkin study.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Massachusetts Institute Of Technology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Massachusetts Institute Of Technology. "Memories Light Up The Corners Of Our Minds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 March 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/03/040302080004.htm>.
Massachusetts Institute Of Technology. (2004, March 2). Memories Light Up The Corners Of Our Minds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/03/040302080004.htm
Massachusetts Institute Of Technology. "Memories Light Up The Corners Of Our Minds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/03/040302080004.htm (accessed September 21, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Food Addiction Might Be Caused By PTSD

Food Addiction Might Be Caused By PTSD

Newsy (Sep. 18, 2014) New research shows that women who suffer from PTSD are three times more likely to develop a food addiction. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Corporal Punishment on Decline, Debate Renews

Corporal Punishment on Decline, Debate Renews

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Corporal punishment in the United States is on the decline, but there is renewed debate over its use after Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was charged with child abuse. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
FDA Eyes Skin Shocks Used at Mass. School

FDA Eyes Skin Shocks Used at Mass. School

AP (Sep. 15, 2014) The FDA is considering whether to ban devices used by the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center in Canton, Massachusetts, the only place in the country known to use electrical skin shocks as aversive conditioning for aggressive patients. (Sept. 15) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins