Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Rutgers researchers offer new theories about memory

06.06.2003


For decades, scientists have disagreed about the way the brain gathers memories, developing two apparently contradictory concepts. But newly published research by a team of scientists at Rutgers-Newark’s Center for Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience (CMBN) indicates that both models of memory may be partially correct – and that resolving this conflict could lead to new approaches for the treatment of memory disorders such as Alzheimer’s Disease.



The dispute has centered on how the hippocampus – a structure deep inside the brain – processes new information from the senses and stores it. Some researchers – such as Mark Gluck and Catherine Myers, co-directors of the Memory Disorders Project at the CMBN – have been proponents of "incremental memory," viewing the acquisition of memory as a learning process that occurs over time.

"If you see thunder and lightning occur together once, that may be seen as a coincidence," Myers observed. "But the more often you see them happen at the same time, the more likely you are to remember them as related parts of one event."


Other researchers, such as Martijn Meeter, also with the CMBN, have focused on "episodic memory," which is more like memorization. This model argues that "an event only has to occur once and you’ll remember it," Myers said. "If someone tells you a name, you may not remember it for a long time, but you will remember it initially at least." More dramatic events tend to be stored in long-term memory most easily. But Gluck, Myers and Meeter are developing a computer model that suggests the two methods of storing memory work together, and present their novel ideas in a paper published in the June issue of the journal Trends in Cognitive Science. Research using new classes of drugs that affect specific portions of a laboratory rat’s hippocampus and the region around it with greater accuracy has led the Rutgers-Newark team to propose a new interpretation of how the brain organizes all the sensory input that becomes memories.

That input goes through a kind of assembly line as the brain gathers it and directs it to the hippocampus, Myers said. Before reaching the hippocampus itself, the information all passes through a structure adjacent to the hippocampus called the entorhinal cortex for processing. The two parts of the brain lie side by side, resembling two halves of a hotdog bun. The new paper by the Rutgers-Newark investigative team floats the possibility that the entorhinal cortex – part of the "hippocampal region" but not part of the hippocampus itself – handles incremental learning. The main task of the hippocampus may be storing episodic memory.

"Understanding how the entorhinal cortex differs in function from the hippocampus is a hugely important and timely problem in the neurobiology of memory," Gluck said. "The entorhinal cortex is among the very first brain regions that are damaged in the earliest stages of Alzheimer’s Disease, so understanding it is crucial to measuring the effectiveness of novel drugs to fight AD."

Until very recently, write the researchers, only broad generalizations could be made about how memory was processed in the general hippocampal region. When humans suffer brain injuries, note the Rutgers-Newark scientists in their paper, "the damage is seldom limited to a single brain structure." As a result, some memory functions long assumed to take place in the hippocampus alone may occur in surrounding parts of the brain, such as the entorhinal cortex.

A coordinated effort between different portions of the brain, taken as a whole, may contribute to what we think of as memory, Myers observed. "It’s a team, and everyone is doing a specialized job," she said. She likened much previous research to the poem The Blind Men and the Elephant, wherein each of six men is right about the portion of the elephant that he is touching but is unable to form a comprehensive understanding of the animal as a whole.

"Everyone has been so caught up in his or her own world that everyone has been right on one component, but has not been able to take in the larger picture," Myers said.


For more information on Rutgers-Newark’s Memory Disorders Project, go to www.memory.rutgers.edu or contact the researchers at gluck@pavlov.rutgers.edu and myers@pavlov.rutgers.edu. Keep up with the latest developments in the field of neurobiological memory research in the free newsletter and Webzine called Memory Loss and the Brain, published by Gluck and Myers (www.memorylossonline.com).

Mike Sutton | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.memory.rutgers.edu
http://www.memorylossonline.com

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht A new view of microscopic interactions
01.07.2020 | University of Missouri-Columbia

nachricht Microscope allows gentle, continuous imaging of light-sensitive corals
01.07.2020 | Marine Biological Laboratory

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: ILA Goes Digital – Automation & Production Technology for Adaptable Aircraft Production

Live event – July 1, 2020 - 11:00 to 11:45 (CET)
"Automation in Aerospace Industry @ Fraunhofer IFAM"

The Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials IFAM l Stade is presenting its forward-looking R&D portfolio for the first time at...

Im Focus: AI monitoring of laser welding processes - X-ray vision and eavesdropping ensure quality

With an X-ray experiment at the European Synchrotron ESRF in Grenoble (France), Empa researchers were able to demonstrate how well their real-time acoustic monitoring of laser weld seams works. With almost 90 percent reliability, they detected the formation of unwanted pores that impair the quality of weld seams. Thanks to a special evaluation method based on artificial intelligence (AI), the detection process is completed in just 70 milliseconds.

Laser welding is a process suitable for joining metals and thermoplastics. It has become particularly well established in highly automated production, for...

Im Focus: A structural light switch for magnetism

A research team from the Max Planck Institute for the Structure of Dynamics (MPSD) and the University of Oxford has managed to drive a prototypical antiferromagnet into a new magnetic state using terahertz frequency light. Their groundbreaking method produced an effect orders of magnitude larger than previously achieved, and on ultrafast time scales. The team’s work has just been published in Nature Physics.

Magnetic materials have been a mainstay in computing technology due to their ability to permanently store information in their magnetic state. Current...

Im Focus: Virtually Captured

Biomechanical analyses and computer simulations reveal the Venus flytrap snapping mechanisms

The Venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) takes only 100 milliseconds to trap its prey. Once their leaves, which have been transformed into snap traps, have...

Im Focus: NASA observes large Saharan dust plume over Atlantic ocean

NASA-NOAA's Suomi NPP satellite observed a huge Saharan dust plume streaming over the North Atlantic Ocean, beginning on June 13. Satellite data showed the dust had spread over 2,000 miles.

At NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, Colin Seftor, an atmospheric scientist, created an animation of the dust and aerosols from the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Dresden Nexus Conference 2020: Same Time, Virtual Format, Registration Opened

19.05.2020 | Event News

Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium AWK'21 will take place on June 10 and 11, 2021

07.04.2020 | Event News

International Coral Reef Symposium in Bremen Postponed by a Year

06.04.2020 | Event News

 
Latest News

First exposed planetary core discovered

01.07.2020 | Physics and Astronomy

Energy-saving servers: Data storage 2.0

01.07.2020 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Laser takes pictures of electrons in crystals

01.07.2020 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>