Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Study offers new clues about memory

20.07.2006
A study conducted by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh involving an amnesia-inducing drug has shed light on how we form new memories.

For a paper to be published in the July edition of the journal Psychological Science, researchers gave participants material to remember in two experimental sessions -- once after being injected with a saline placebo and once after an injection of midazolam, a drug used to relieve anxiety during surgical procedures that also causes short-term anterograde amnesia, the most common form of amnesia. Anterograde amnesia, which was portrayed in the film "Memento," impairs a person's ability to form new memories while leaving old ones unharmed.

The study revealed that the drug prevented people from linking a studied item to the experimental context. That linkage is necessary for a process known as recollection, in which people retrieve contextual details involved in the experience of studying the information. People sometimes recognize something as having been studied without using recollection (in this case, without remembering details of the study event) if the item seems sufficiently familiar -- a process called familiarity. Although the recollection process was affected by the drug, the familiarity process was not. This is the same pattern that is found with patients suffering from anterograde amnesia. They are unable to form new associations, severely limiting the accuracy of their recognition judgments.

"This helps us understand the general functions of memory. It helps us to relate, for example, the memory declines seen in old age to those seen in patients with hippocampal damage," said Lynne Reder, a professor of psychology at Carnegie Mellon and the study's lead author.

Using a double-blind, within-subject protocol, the scientists compared the participants' performance on the test after studying the material either under the influence of midazolam or after receiving an injection of a saline placebo. In both sessions, participants viewed words, photographs of faces and landscapes, and abstract pictures one at a time on a computer screen. Twenty minutes later, they were shown the words and images again, one at a time. Half of the images they had seen earlier, and half were new. They were then asked whether they recognized each one.

The researchers predicted that the more participants relied on recollection with saline, the more they would be hurt under the influence of midazolam. Their findings matched those predictions. Researchers found that the participants' memory while in the placebo condition was best for words, but the worst for abstract images. Midazolam impaired the recognition of words the most and did not affect recognition of abstract pictures.

The experiment further reinforced the thought that the ability to recollect depends on the ability to link the stimulus to a context. While the words were very concrete and therefore easy to link to the experimental context, the photographs were of unknown people and unknown places (not, for example, of Marilyn Monroe or the Eiffel Tower) and thus hard to distinctively label. The abstract images were also unfamiliar and not unitized into something that could be described with a single word (such as Picasso's "Guernica"). This meant that a person could not easily link the image with a context, regardless of drug condition.

Jonathan Potts | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.andrew.cmu.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Smart Data Transformation – Surfing the Big Wave
02.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Informationstechnik FIT

nachricht Climate change could outpace EPA Lake Champlain protections
18.11.2016 | University of Vermont

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

NTU scientists build new ultrasound device using 3-D printing technology

07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

The balancing act: An enzyme that links endocytosis to membrane recycling

07.12.2016 | Life Sciences

How to turn white fat brown

07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>