background preloader

MIT discovers the location of memories: Individual neurons

MIT discovers the location of memories: Individual neurons
Update 12/2/15: We’ve now followed up on this story: The more we learn about memory, the weirder it gets. The original continues below. MIT researchers have shown, for the first time ever, that memories are stored in specific brain cells. By triggering a small cluster of neurons, the researchers were able to force the subject to recall a specific memory. By removing these neurons, the subject would lose that memory. As you can imagine, the trick here is activating individual neurons, which are incredibly small and not really the kind of thing you can attach electrodes to. Now, just to temper your excitement, we should note that MIT’s subjects in this case are mice — but it’s very, very likely that the human brain functions in the same way. In the experiment, MIT gave mice an electric shock to create a fear memory in the hippocampus region of the brain (pictured above) — and then later, using laser light, activated the neurons where the memory was stored.

Related:  F.Y.I./Informative and Thought ProvokingNervous SystemUNIT 1: Sensory ReceptorsBrainneuroscience

Mirror stage A toddler and a mirror The mirror stage (French: stade du miroir) is a concept in the psychoanalytic theory of Jacques Lacan. The mirror stage is based on the belief that infants recognize themselves in a mirror (literal) or other symbolic contraption which induces apperception (the turning of oneself into an object that can be viewed by the child from outside of himself) from the age of about six months. The more we learn about memory, the weirder it gets For much of the history of brain science, the word “engram” has been a bit of a catch-all term, referring to the hypothetical physical incarnation of memory. If this turned out to be a storm of electrical activity, then that’s what the engram would be; if it turned out that networks of physical neurons were the home of specific memories, then an engram was that, instead. Lately, though, the word has gotten a lot more specific. We now have the term “memory neurons” to refer to the nerve cells of the hippocampus, which seem to play a crucial role in storing and retrieving memories. Since the original proof that at least some memory is localized to specific physical neurons just a few short years ago, understanding of the physical basis of memory has advanced at a lightning pace.

Consciousness Does Not Reside Here WHAT IS THE RELATION between selective attention and consciousness? When you strain to listen to the distant baying of coyotes over the sound of a campsite conversation, you do so by attending to the sound and becoming conscious of their howls. When you attend to your sparring opponent out of the corner of your eye, you become hyperaware of his smallest gestures. Because of the seemingly intimate relation between attention and consciousness, most scholars conflate the two processes.

Iterative Algorithmic Plastic Sculpture: Fimo Fractals One of our favorite shapes is the Sierpinski triangle. In one sense, a mere mathematical abstraction, on the other, a pattern that naturally emerges in real life from several different simple algorithms. On paper, one can play the Chaos Game to generate the shape (or cheat and just use the java applet). Updated Brain Map Identifies Nearly 100 New Regions The first hints of the brain’s hidden geography emerged more than 150 years ago. In the 1860s, the physician Pierre Paul Broca was intrigued by two of his patients who were unable to speak. After they died, Broca examined their brains. On the outer layer, called the cortex, he found that both had suffered damage to the same patch of tissue. The Brain: The Connections May Be the Key There was just one problem: Nobody knew what the connectome looked like. MRI scans can capture the entire brain, but they can get down to a resolution of only a few cubic millimeters, not nearly fine enough. Other methods, such as staining, allow scientists to look at one neuron at a time but not to track the broader links between them. Seung needed a way to see every neuron in a given piece of brain tissue. He found the way by teaming up with scientists who know how to slice brains very, very thinly. Jeff Lichtman, a neuroscientist at Harvard University, has built a device called an ultramicrotome that uses a diamond knife to shave brain tissue layer by layer.

The 6 Creepiest Lies the Food Industry is Feeding You Kobe Beef Doesn't Really Exist Getty Seasoned carnivores know that Kobe beef is just about the cream of the crop, if you can afford it. The Japanese Wagyu cattle it comes from are raised with a very direct set of rules, followed with the kind of strict meticulousness you'd expect from a country where making a cup of tea is an hour-long ritual. Luckily, the international market has made Kobe beef pretty widely available.

Mike the Headless Chicken Beheading[edit] On September 10, 1945, farmer Lloyd Olsen of Fruita, Colorado, United States, was planning to eat supper with his mother-in-law and was sent out to the yard by his wife to bring back a chicken. Olsen chose a five-and-a-half-month-old cockerel named Mike. Personality Traits Correlate With Brain Activity Your personality says a lot about you. To categorize people by their disposition, psychologists have long relied on questionnaires. Now, however, researchers may be closing in on a tangible view of character in the brain. According to a recent study in PLoS One, resting brain activity varies with a person’s scores on a well-established personality test. When awake but not engaged in a task, each subject displayed activity patterns distinct from those found in someone with different traits. Even at rest, the brain hums with neural activity.

Freedom Vaults : Guidelines for Saying No to Police Searches One of the main powers that law enforcement officers carry is the power to intimidate citizens into voluntarily giving up their rights. Police are trained to believe in their authority and trained to perform their interactions with private citizens with confidence. It is their job to deal with problems and they learn to manage uncomfortable situations through strength.