Based on a recent medical research, the study of neurons could shed light on memory loss and improve patients’ condition. Scientists at the universities of Leicester and California have reached this conclusion after observing the activity of the medial temporal lobe in 14 respondents suffering from severe epilepsy.
Memory loss is one of the most popular subjects among medical experts as they are now trying to find a solution to this worrisome health affection. Many more patients get diagnosed each year with Alzheimer’s disease; hence, the necessity of adopting new effective measures.
It is for this particular reason that scientists at the University of Leicester have teamed up with their colleagues at the University of California to carry out a new experiment in this direction. Matias Ison and Rodrigo Quian Quiroga, the two authors of the research, have asked 14 patients suffering from acute epilepsy to take part in a series of medical tests.
The 14 patients had previously had electrodes implanted in the brain, so medical experts could better study the behavior of their brains during seizures. The electrodes had been added to the medial temporal lobe area, which is responsible for short memory formation.
The subjects were first handed a given number of pictures showing famous actors and political figures, such as, Jennifer Aniston, Clint Eastwood and Ronald Reagan. After viewing this pics for several seconds, respondents were then, asked to watch another series of composite images.
The latter photos showed the aforementioned stars in a given location or as they carried out a particular activity. For instance, Ronald Reagan was portrayed while leaning against the Leaning Tour of Pisa.
The activity registered by the implanted electrodes showed that the neurons in the medial temporal lobe were immediately activated when they first noticed the actors. On the other hand, the neurons that were activated by the image of the Leaning Tour of Pisa began responding to the image of the actors, as well; thus, enabling the learning process.
By breaking up this learning process into steps, scientists have managed to understand the manner in which short-term memory is formed. Previous studies have only relied on learning and reward training scheme that did not fully explained the activity of the brain.
Researchers plan to further study long-term and short-term memories to understand why certain memories linger longer in our brains, while others are completely forgotten.
They also want to find the methods by which these forgotten memories could be later on accessed again, so they would prevent memory loss in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
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