Scientists at The Hospital for Sick Children (Sick Kids) and UCLA have pinpointed for the first time a region of the brain responsible for storing and retrieving distant memories. This research is reported in the May 7, 2004 issue of the journal Science.
"It was previously known that the hippocampus processes recent memory, but that the hippocampus did not store memories permanently. We were able to determine that it is the anterior cingulate cortex where older, or lifelong, memories are stored and recalled," said Dr. Paul Frankland, the studys co-lead author, a scientist in the Sick Kids Research Institute, and assistant professor of physiology at the University of Toronto.
The formation of new memories is thought to involve the strengthening of synaptic connections between groups of neurons. Remembering involves the reactivation of the same group, or network, of neurons. As memories age, the networks gradually change. Initially, memories for everyday life events appear to depend on networks in the region of the brain called the hippocampus. However, over time, these memories become increasingly dependent upon networks in the region of the brain called the cortex.
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