General, Research, Technology

How do brain cells map memories?

Human memory is selective and there isa lot of reasons. Recently, neuroscientists have discovered a curious aspect of how our memory works. When the brain needs to remember information related to a specific place, individual neurons take aim at specific memories. “A key feature of memory is our ability to selectively recall certain events, even if they occurred in an environment in which other events took place,” scientists write in a paper published in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

This is how the map of neurons in the human brain looks like.

How does the brain choose memories?

If you are asked to recommend a tourista route for the city where you have often been to, selective fragments from memories of places from different trips may come to mind. Researchers from several universities, including Columbia University in New York and Emory University in Atlanta (USA), studied individual neurons - the so-called "memory cells" - 19 patients who underwent brain surgery due to the treatment of epilepsy.

Patients completed the task to evaluatespatial memory operation. During the assignment, the subjects were placed on the road using virtual reality glasses (VR), and asked to press a button when they encounter specific objects. As part of the assignment, the researchers asked participants to walk along the track and mark the location of the remote object. By examining the medial temporal lobe (MTL) and, in particular, the entorhinal cortex, scientists discovered that the cells that track the memory were “spatially tuned” to a location, and then could get location information that a person should remember.

What other amazing aspects of memory do you know? You can discuss this issue in the comments and with the participants in our chat on Telegram.

The work of scientists shows that neurons inthe human brain tracks events that we intentionally recall and can change their patterns of activity to distinguish between memories. They are like points on the Google map, which mark the places where important events of your life took place. This discovery may serve as a potential mechanism for our ability to selectively use various experiences from the past and help specialists understand how these memories affect the spatial map of the human brain.

It looks like an active neuron

In the past, scientists have already tried to understand how thiscan do. They found that the cells of a neural network are very important for the operation of spatial memory, since it works similarly to the GPS system. Spatial tuning of neurons is the idea that individual neurons are "activated to represent a location in the environment during navigation." In a previous work, it was assumed that spatially tuned cells reassign their triggering schemes in a different environment, so the events that occur in different places are associated with different spatial maps, ”the researchers explain.

Read the latest news from the world of science and high technology on our channel in Yandex.Zen.

Based on this work, scientists have suggested thatindividual neurons in MTL, and especially in the entorhinal cortex, will exhibit a kind of “spatial tuning of neurons” modeled by past experience. It turns out that the human brain creates a real map of memories.