Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

A time for memories: How the brain determines the timing at which neurons in specific areas fire to create memories

Date:
January 23, 2014
Source:
University of Leicester
Summary:
Neuroscientists have discovered how the brain determines the timing at which neurons in specific areas fire to create new memories. This research exploits the unique opportunity of recording multiple single-neurons in patients suffering from epilepsy refractory to medication that are implanted with intracranial electrodes for clinical reasons.

Neuroscientists from the University of Leicester, 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.

This research exploits the unique opportunity of recording multiple single-neurons in patients suffering from epilepsy refractory to medication that are implanted with intracranial electrodes for clinical reasons.

The study, which is to be published in the academic journal Current Biology, is the result of collaboration between Professor Rodrigo Quian Quiroga and Dr Hernan Rey at the Centre for Systems Neuroscience at the University of Leicester and Professor Itzhak Fried at UCLA.

The work 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.

Professor Quian Quiroga said: "The firing of these neurons is relatively very late after the moment of seeing the picture, or hearing the person's name, but is still very precise. These neurons also fire only when the pictures are consciously recognised and remain silent when they are not.

"Our research shows that there is a specific brain response that marks the timing of the firing of these neurons. This response shortly precedes the neuron's firing and is only present for the consciously recognised pictures -- being absent if the pictures were not recognised.

"This brain response thus reflects an activation that provides a temporal window for processing consciously perceived stimuli in the hippocampus and surrounding cortex. Given the proposed role of these neurons in memory formation, we argue that the brain response we found is a gateway for processing consciously perceived stimuli to form or recall memories."

Dr Hernan Rey, first author of the study, added: "This time-keeping may indeed be critical for synchronizing and combining multisensory information involving different processing times. This, in turn, helps in creating a unified conceptual representation that can be used for memory functions."

Professor Quian Quiroga's work 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 known.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Leicester. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. HernanGonzalo Rey, Itzhak Fried, Rodrigo QuianQuiroga. Timing of Single-Neuron and Local Field Potential Responses in the Human Medial Temporal Lobe. Current Biology, 2014; DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2013.12.004

Cite This Page:

University of Leicester. "A time for memories: How the brain determines the timing at which neurons in specific areas fire to create memories." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 January 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140123125448.htm>.
University of Leicester. (2014, January 23). A time for memories: How the brain determines the timing at which neurons in specific areas fire to create memories. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140123125448.htm
University of Leicester. "A time for memories: How the brain determines the timing at which neurons in specific areas fire to create memories." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140123125448.htm (accessed July 24, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Idaho Boy Helps Brother With Disabilities Complete Triathlon

Idaho Boy Helps Brother With Disabilities Complete Triathlon

Newsy (July 23, 2014) An 8-year-old boy helped his younger brother, who has a rare genetic condition that's confined him to a wheelchair, finish a triathlon. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The 83 new genetic markers could open dozens of new avenues for schizophrenia treatment research. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Why Do People Believe We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains?

Why Do People Believe We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains?

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The new sci-fi thriller "Lucy" is making people question whether we really use all our brainpower. But, as scientists have insisted for years, we do. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Do Obese Women Have 'Food Learning Impairment'?

Do Obese Women Have 'Food Learning Impairment'?

Newsy (July 18, 2014) Yale researchers tested 135 men and women, and it was only obese women who were deemed to have "impaired associative learning." Video provided by Newsy
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