Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Memories light up the corners of our minds

02.03.2004


fMRI shows certain brain areas "light up" as we learn

Memories do indeed light up the corners of our mind, just as the songwriter said.

Scientific evidence for this notion comes from studies using magnetic resonance imaging to examine the living human brain. These studies show that certain brain areas "light up" as an individual is learning information.



Scientists had previously established that people remember emotionally charged events and facts better than neutral ones. Now researchers at MIT have discovered that memories with an element of arousal or excitement are remembered by a different area of the brain--the amygdala--from memories of a calmer nature, which are remembered by the prefrontal cortex. These findings, published in the journal PNAS Online on Feb. 23, are an important step in understanding how the brain makes memories. Scientists hope this information will one day lead to a treatment for memory loss and learning impairments.

For the study, Elizabeth Kensinger, a researcher in MIT’s Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, and Suzanne Corkin, professor of behavioral neuroscience in the same department, asked 14 men and 14 women to "learn" 150 words related to events, while the participants brains were being scanned in an fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) procedure. Some of the words represented arousing events, such as "rape" or "slaughter." Others were nonarousing, such as "sorrow" and "mourning."

They then tested the participants to see which of the words they remembered having been shown. Kensinger and Corkin found that on average, people remembered more of the arousing words than the others. They also discovered that the hippocampus was active while all the words were learned, but the amygdala and prefrontal cortex were active only for learning the arousing and nonarousing words, respectively.

"This result suggests that stress hormones, which are released as part of the response to emotionally arousing events, are responsible for enhancing memories of those events," said the researchers. "We think that detailed cognitive processing may underlie the enhanced memory for the nonarousing events."

The next steps in this research will be a similar study using words denoting positive events, both arousing and nonarousing, and a study to examine the fate of emotional memory in aging.

The researchers used the brain scanning facilities at the Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, a collaborative research center founded by MIT, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. The National Science Foundation and the National Institute on Aging funded the Kensinger and Corkin study.

Denise Brehm | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/www/

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht New measure for the wellbeing of populations could replace Human Development Index
07.11.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

nachricht Because not only arguments count
30.10.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Mathematik in den Naturwissenschaften (MPIMIS)

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Data use draining your battery? Tiny device to speed up memory while also saving power

The more objects we make "smart," from watches to entire buildings, the greater the need for these devices to store and retrieve massive amounts of data quickly without consuming too much power.

Millions of new memory cells could be part of a computer chip and provide that speed and energy savings, thanks to the discovery of a previously unobserved...

Im Focus: An energy-efficient way to stay warm: Sew high-tech heating patches to your clothes

Personal patches could reduce energy waste in buildings, Rutgers-led study says

What if, instead of turning up the thermostat, you could warm up with high-tech, flexible patches sewn into your clothes - while significantly reducing your...

Im Focus: Lethal combination: Drug cocktail turns off the juice to cancer cells

A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.

The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...

Im Focus: New Foldable Drone Flies through Narrow Holes in Rescue Missions

A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.

Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...

Im Focus: Topological material switched off and on for the first time

Key advance for future topological transistors

Over the last decade, there has been much excitement about the discovery, recognised by the Nobel Prize in Physics only two years ago, that there are two types...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

ICTM Conference 2019: Digitization emerges as an engineering trend for turbomachinery construction

12.12.2018 | Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Data use draining your battery? Tiny device to speed up memory while also saving power

14.12.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Tangled magnetic fields power cosmic particle accelerators

14.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

In search of missing worlds, Hubble finds a fast evaporating exoplanet

14.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>