Damage to the hippocampus can be caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain, for example during a cardiac arrest, or various other illnesses such as limbic encephalitis or Alzheimer’s disease.
It has been known for some time that selective damage to the hippocampus can lead to amnesia, with patients unable to recall past events. However, by asking patients to describe imaginary experiences, the research team led by Dr Eleanor Maguire found that the patients' ability to construct fictitious events was also severely impaired. The research is published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The researchers asked the patients to imagine and then describe in detail situations in commonplace settings, such as a beach, pub and forest, as well as potentially plausible future events such as a Christmas party or a future meeting with a friend.
"We found that the role played by the hippocampus in processing memory was far broader than merely reliving past experiences," says Dr Maguire, a Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow at UCL. "It also seems to support the ability to imagine any kind of experience including possible future events. In that sense, people with damage to the hippocampus are forced to live in the present."
"Furthermore, the patients reported that they were unable to visualise the whole experience in their mind's eye, seeing instead just a collection of separate images," explains Dr Maguire.
Dr Maguire and her colleagues believe that the findings suggest a common mechanism that might underpin both recalling real memories and how we visualise imaginary and future experiences, with the hippocampus providing the spatial context or environmental setting into which the details of our experiences are bound.
Craig Brierley | alfa
Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution
09.12.2016 | Veterans Affairs Research Communications
Oxygen can wake up dormant bacteria for antibiotic attacks
08.12.2016 | Penn State
Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.
Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...
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:...
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...
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...
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...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
09.12.2016 | Life Sciences
09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation
09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine