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Sciences. Neuroscience. New neurons help us to remember fear. Fear burns memories into our brain, and new research by University of California, Berkeley, neuroscientists explains how. Scientists have long known that fear and other highly emotional experiences lead to incredibly strong memories. In a study appearing online today (Tuesday, June 14) in advance of publication in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, UC Berkeley’s Daniela Kaufer and colleagues report a new way for emotions to affect memory: The brain’s emotional center, the amygdala, induces the hippocampus, a relay hub for memory, to generate new neurons.

The figure shows newly born nerve cells (green) colocalizing with a neuronal marker which indicates immature nerve cells (red). Astrocytes are labelled in blue. In a fearful situation, these newborn neurons get activated by the amygdala and may provide a “blank slate” on which the new fearful memory can be strongly imprinted, she said. “Many affective disorders involve disordered emotional memories like PTSD, depression and anxiety. How Does the Brain Retain Information? Researchers show that memories reside in specific brain cells. Our fond or fearful memories — that first kiss or a bump in the night — leave memory traces that we may conjure up in the remembrance of things past, complete with time, place and all the sensations of the experience.

Neuroscientists call these traces memory engrams. But are engrams conceptual, or are they a physical network of neurons in the brain? In a new MIT study, researchers used optogenetics to show that memories really do reside in very specific brain cells, and that simply activating a tiny fraction of brain cells can recall an entire memory — explaining, for example, how Marcel Proust could recapitulate his childhood from the aroma of a once-beloved madeleine cookie. In that famous surgery, Penfield treated epilepsy patients by scooping out parts of the brain where seizures originated.

Fast forward to the introduction, seven years ago, of optogenetics, which can stimulate neurons that are genetically modified to express light-activated proteins. False memory. Human Thought Controls Neurons in Brain. Neuroscience research involving epileptic patients with brain electrodes surgically implanted in their medial temporal lobes shows that patients learned to consciously control individual neurons deep in the brain with thoughts. Subjects learned to control mouse cursors, play video games and alter focus of digital images with their thoughts. The patients were each using brain computer interfaces, deep brain electrodes and software designed for the research.

The article below offers more detail. Controlling Individual Cortical Nerve Cells by Human Thought Five years ago, neuroscientist Christof Koch of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) , neurosurgeon Itzhak Fried of UCLA, and their colleagues discovered that a single neuron in the human brain can function much like a sophisticated computer and recognize people, landmarks, and objects, suggesting that a consistent and explicit code may help transform complex visual representations into long-term and more abstract memories.

Neuroscience For Kids. The smell of a flower - The memory of a walk in the park - The pain of stepping on a nail. These experiences are made possible by the 3 pounds of tissue in our heads...the BRAIN!! Neuroscience for Kids has been created for all students and teachers who would like to learn about the nervous system. Discover the exciting world of the brain, spinal cord, neurons and the senses. Use the experiments, activities and games to help you learn about the nervous system. Can't find what you are looking for? Portions of Neuroscience for Kids are available in Spanish, Slovene, Chinese, Portuguese, Italian, Korean, Dutch, Telugu, Japanese, Belarusian, Serbian, Russian and Turkish. "Neuroscience for Kids" is maintained by Eric H.