Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Memories Exist Even When Forgotten, Study Suggests

Date:
September 10, 2009
Source:
University of California - Irvine
Summary:
A woman looks familiar, but you can't remember her name or where you met her. New research suggests the memory exists -- you simply can't retrieve it.

Jeff Johnson of the UCI Center for the Neurobiology of Learning & Memory and colleagues discovered that a person's brain activity while remembering an event is very similar to when it was first experienced, even if specifics can't be recalled. Johnson says brain imaging shines a "searchlight" into the brain.
Credit: Daniel A. Anderson / University Communications

A woman looks familiar, but you can't remember her name or where you met her. New research by UC Irvine neuroscientists suggests the memory exists – you simply can't retrieve it.

Related Articles


Using advanced brain imaging techniques, the scientists discovered that a person's brain activity while remembering an event is very similar to when it was first experienced, even if specifics can't be recalled.

"If the details are still there, hopefully we can find a way to access them," said Jeff Johnson, postdoctoral researcher at UCI's Center for the Neurobiology of Learning & Memory and lead author of the study, appearing Sept. 10 in the journal Neuron.

"By understanding how this works in young, healthy adults, we can potentially gain insight into situations where our memories fail more noticeably, such as when we get older," he said. "It also might shed light on the fate of vivid memories of traumatic events that we may want to forget."

In collaboration with scientists at Princeton University, Johnson and colleague Michael Rugg, CNLM director, used functional magnetic resonance imaging to study the brain activity of students.

Inside an fMRI scanner, the students were shown words and asked to perform various tasks: imagine how an artist would draw the object named by the word, think about how the object is used, or pronounce the word backward in their minds. The scanner captured images of their brain activity during these exercises.

About 20 minutes later, the students viewed the words a second time and were asked to remember any details linked to them. Again, brain activity was recorded.

Utilizing a mathematical method called pattern analysis, the scientists associated the different tasks with distinct patterns of brain activity. When a student had a strong recollection of a word from a particular task, the pattern was very similar to the one generated during the task. When recollection was weak or nonexistent, the pattern was not as prominent but still recognizable as belonging to that particular task.

"The pattern analyzer could accurately identify tasks based on the patterns generated, regardless of whether the subject remembered specific details," Johnson said. "This tells us the brain knew something about what had occurred, even though the subject was not aware of the information."

In addition to Johnson and Rugg, Susan McDuff and Kenneth Norman of Princeton worked on the study, funded by the National Institutes of Health.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California - Irvine. The original article was written by Jennifer Fitzenberger, University Communications. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of California - Irvine. "Memories Exist Even When Forgotten, Study Suggests." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 September 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090909122100.htm>.
University of California - Irvine. (2009, September 10). Memories Exist Even When Forgotten, Study Suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 27, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090909122100.htm
University of California - Irvine. "Memories Exist Even When Forgotten, Study Suggests." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090909122100.htm (accessed January 27, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

City Divided: A Look at Model Schools in the TDSB

City Divided: A Look at Model Schools in the TDSB

The Toronto Star (Jan. 27, 2015) Model schools are rethinking how they engage with the community to help enhance the lives of the students and their parents. Video provided by The Toronto Star
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Technology Is Ruining Snow Days For Students

How Technology Is Ruining Snow Days For Students

Newsy (Jan. 25, 2015) More schools are using online classes to keep from losing time to snow days, but it only works if students have Internet access at home. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Weird Things Couples Do When They Lose Their Phone

Weird Things Couples Do When They Lose Their Phone

BuzzFeed (Jan. 24, 2015) Did you back it up? Do you even know how to do that? Video provided by BuzzFeed
Powered by NewsLook.com
Smart Wristband to Shock Away Bad Habits

Smart Wristband to Shock Away Bad Habits

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Jan. 23, 2015) A Boston start-up is developing a wristband they say will help users break bad habits by jolting them with an electric shock. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

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