Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Yesterday, today and tomorrow: Mount Sinai researchers are making sense of episodic memory

18.12.2003


Many of our actions are guided by past experiences combined with insight into the future. A major mystery of biology involves understanding how brain cells can create a representation that extends backward and forward through time. A new study conducted by researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine published in the December 18th issue of Neuron begins to unravel the brain activity that underlies concurrent processing of the recent past, the present and the imminent future.



Memories that are organized by time and context are known as episodic memory. Dr. Matthew L. Shapiro, Associate Professor of Neurobiology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and leader of the study offers the following example. "Imagine driving to work, parking your car, and taking an elevator to your office. During the day you may take the elevator several times without thinking of your car. Only when the end of the day arrives and you descend in the elevator to go home do you remember where your car is parked. In the present moment in the elevator, the past guides your future action." To examine the brain processes involved in such episodic memories, Drs. Shapiro and Ferbinteanu examined cellular activity within the brain while rats searched for food in a maze where the starting and ending point was varied.

The researchers examined activity in the hippocampus, a brain region that is key for memory. The hippocampus contains cells, called place cells, which become more active in response to a particular spatial location. "We found that the activity of the place cells showed something very interesting while the rats performed the task. Some cells signaled location alone but others were additionally sensitive to recent or impending events," explains Dr. Ferbinteanu. "These cells maintained spatial selectivity, but this activity depended upon where the animal had just been or where it intended to go." Therefore, the hippocampus can support episodic memory by creating patterns of cellular activity for events within a temporal context.


"The pattern of cell firing suggests a model of how the hippocampus helps form episodic memories," suggests Dr. Shapiro. "When you park your car, hippocampal neurons fire in a pattern that includes location. When the time has come to go home, the goal in the elevator is to find the car. This goal activates cells in the hippocampus that did not fire during prior trips in the elevator that day, but form a new pattern that perhaps includes the visual and verbal images that guide recollection and future action." Further studies are needed to determine how the brain activates and decodes the signals that simultaneously integrate the past, present, and future.

Debra Kaplan | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.mountsinai.org/

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Single-stranded DNA and RNA origami go live
15.12.2017 | Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard

nachricht New antbird species discovered in Peru by LSU ornithologists
15.12.2017 | Louisiana State University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: First-of-its-kind chemical oscillator offers new level of molecular control

DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.

Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Engineers program tiny robots to move, think like insects

15.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

One in 5 materials chemistry papers may be wrong, study suggests

15.12.2017 | Materials Sciences

New antbird species discovered in Peru by LSU ornithologists

15.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>