Science News
from research organizations

Insight creates new memories in the brain

Date:
April 1, 2015
Source:
Radboud University
Summary:
Scientists have visualized - for the first time - how the brain recombines memories of past events when these are complemented by new information.
Share:
FULL STORY

Recombining memories. Sometimes the relationship between events (the left and right puzzle pieces) is only understood once the 'final puzzle piece' comes to light (in the middle). For the first time, researchers were able to record the brain signature of this process.
Credit: Image courtesy of Radboud University

Scientists from Radboud University have visualized -- for the first time -- how the brain recombines memories of past events when these are complemented by new information. Scientific paper Current Biology published their results on March 30.

We've all had that 'Aha!' moment when pieces of a puzzling problem seem to fall into place as we gain insight into a previously obscured solution. But what happens in our brains when we think 'Aha!'? That was the question that Branka Milivojevic, Alejandro Vicente-Grabovetsky and Christian Döller, researchers from the Donders Institute at Radboud University, sought to answer.

Sims for science

Branka and her colleagues used The Sims 3 life-simulation game to make animated videos of life-like events which they showed to participants whose brain activity was monitored using an MRI scanner. They found that after people realized how some events fit together into a story, the memories of those events were joined together -- just like pieces of a puzzle -- to form a new memory of the entire story. This effect could be seen in the hippocampus and medial prefrontal cortex: brain regions involved in memory for personal, autobiographical, events.

Recombining memories

This is the first time scientists have been able to visualize how the brain flexibly recombines memories of past events when new information comes to light. This research has important implications for knowledge acquisition in educational settings. It suggest that teachers can aid learning, not only by explicitly providing the context for new material as they already do, but also by pointing out links within previously learned material, thus eliciting reorganization of neural representations of knowledge and the accompanying formation of an integrated "big picture."


Story Source:

Materials provided by Radboud University. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Branka Milivojevic, Alejandro Vicente-Grabovetsky, Christian F. Doeller. Insight Reconfigures Hippocampal-Prefrontal Memories. Current Biology, 2015; 25 (7): 821 DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2015.01.033

Cite This Page:

Radboud University. "Insight creates new memories in the brain." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 April 2015. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/04/150401084448.htm>.
Radboud University. (2015, April 1). Insight creates new memories in the brain. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 23, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/04/150401084448.htm
Radboud University. "Insight creates new memories in the brain." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/04/150401084448.htm (accessed May 23, 2017).

RELATED STORIES