Undoubtedly our ability to create andextracting memories is a fundamental part of human experience, but we still have a lot to learn about this process. For example, today scientists lack a clear understanding of how different areas of the brain interact to form and extract memories. However, the results of a recent study shed light on this phenomenon, showing how neural activity is carried out in two separate areas of the brain during the extraction of memories - the hippocampus and the neocortex. The work was published in the journal PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences).
How the hippocampus and neocortex help retrieve memories
Hippocampus, a structure located deep inbrain, has long been considered the center of memory. The hippocampus helps to “glue together” fragments of memories (“where” and “when”), ensuring the collaboration of neurons. This is often called "neural synchronization." When neurons that encode “where” information are synchronized with neurons that encode “when” information, these details become connected through a phenomenon known as Hebb’s theory. But the hippocampus is simply too small to store every single piece of memory. This led researchers to the theory that the hippocampus connects the neocortex — a region of the brain that processes complex sensory details such as sound and vision — to help fill out the details of the memories.
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However, the work of the neocortex is a completethe opposite of the hippocampus, the neocortex ensures that neurons will not work together. Researchers call this "neural desynchronization." Imagine that you are asking 100 people to give their names at the same time. Obviously, the synchronism of their response will make the recognition of each individual name impossible. But if each person desynchronizes his answer (that is, people will take turns pronouncing their names), you are likely to collect much more information from them. The same applies to neurocortical neurons - if they are synchronized, then they are struggling to convey a message, but if they are desynchronized, information is easily transmitted.
The work of researchers showed that the hippocampus andNeocortex really works together when it comes to memories and their retrieval. The hippocampus synchronizes its activities with the neocortex to glue parts of the memories, and the neocortex later helps to extract them. Meanwhile, the neocortex desynchronizes its activities to help process event information and later retrieve memories.
How are cats and bicycles connected?
During the study, scientists tested 12patients with epilepsy aged 24 to 53 years. All subjects had electrodes placed directly in the brain tissue - the hippocampus and neocortex, as this is part of the treatment for epilepsy. During the experiment, patients studied the associations between various stimuli (such as words, sounds, and videos), and then remembered them. So, scientists found that during training, neural activity in the neocortex is desynchronized, and then, after about 150 milliseconds, the neural activity in the hippocampus is synchronized. Apparently, information on the sensory details of the stimuli is first processed by the neocortex and then transmitted to the hippocampus for bonding. Researchers have found that the hippocampus and neocortex work closely together to form and restore memories.
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The results confirm the recenta theory that suggests that the neocortex desynchronized work and the synchronized hippocampus must interact so that a person can form and then retrieve memories. Understanding how the hippocampus and neocortex work together to form memories and extract them can be important for the further development of new technologies that can help improve the memory of people suffering from cognitive impairment, such as dementia, and in general to improve memory performance. .