Study Identifies New Patterns of Brain Activation Used in Forming Long-Term Memories

Researchers at New York University and Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science have identified patterns of brain activation linked to the formation of long-term memories. The study, which appeared in the journal Neuron, also offered an innovative and more comprehensive method for gauging memories. It asked subjects to recall the content of a television sit-com, which more accurately simulated real-life experiences because it required retrieving material that occurs in more complex settings than typically exist in a laboratory environment.

The study’s principal investigator was Lila Davachi of NYU’s Department of Psychology and its Center for Neural Science. Its co-investigators included Uri Hasson and Dav Clark, both of NYU’s Department of Psychology and Center for Neural Science, and Orit Furman and Yadin Dudai of Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science.

Making sense of and recalling the complex, multi-sensory information encountered in everyday life—such as reading a newspaper while listening for a boarding announcement at the airport—is a fundamental task that the brain readily accomplishes. What is less clear is which regions of the brain are employed to encode these experiences. Previous research has examined neurological activity important for successful memory encoding, but the studies have not simulated the real-world settings in which long-term memories are typically formed. Instead, they often rely on recollection of single images or simple words.

By contrast, the NYU and Wiezmann Institute of Science researchers sought to replicate the every-day enviro 500

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