News ID: 188100
Published: 0201 GMT February 21, 2017

Study identifies brain process vital to short-term memory

Study identifies brain process vital to short-term memory

Researchers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles have discovered the process the brain uses to create and maintain short-term memories.

The study showed how the persistently active neuron — a type of brain cell — remains active for several seconds when a person is required to memorize an object or image and recall it later, UPI wrote.

Ueli Rutishauser, PhD, associate professor of neurosurgery in the Cedars-Sinai Department of Neurosurgery and senior author of the study, said, "This study is the first clear demonstration of precisely how human brain cells work to create and recall short-term memories.

"Confirmation of this process and the specific brain regions involved is a critical step in developing meaningful treatments for memory disorders that affect millions of Americans."

Neurosurgeons at Cedars-Sinai implanted electrodes to locate the source of seizures in 13 epilepsy patients and studied the electrical activity of individual neurons while patients performed certain memory tests. Patients viewed a sequence of three images followed by a two- to three-second delay.

Patients were then shown another image and were asked to decide whether they had seen the image before.

Researchers found persistently active neurons in the medial frontal lobe and in the medial temporal lobe that remained active even after the patient stopped looking at an object or image.

The medial temporal lobe was believed to only be involved in the formation of new long-term memories, but the new findings show that both areas of the brain maintain short-term memory and use the activity of the neurons for memorization.

Dr. Adam N. Mamelak, professor of neurosurgery, director of Functional Neurosurgery at Cedars-Sinai and coauthor of the study, said, "We noticed that the larger the increase in activity, the more likely the patient was to remember the image.

"In contrast, if the neuron's activity was weak, the patient forgot the image and thus lost the memory.”



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