News / USA

Brain Researchers Uncover Secrets of Memory

Brain Researchers Uncover Secrets of Memoryi
X
February 21, 2013 1:38 AM
Much research on the human brain is focused on understanding how people form memories, store them and retrieve them. Now, a study by scientists at the University of California-Davis and the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston is providing new insight into the process. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports, researchers at the two schools found that separate areas of the brain coordinate much like little radio stations -- to form memories involving time and space.

Brain Researchers Uncover Secrets of Memory

Greg Flakus
Much research on the human brain is focused on understanding how people form memories, store them and retrieve them. Now, a study by scientists at the University of California-Davis and the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston is providing new insight into the process. Researchers at the two schools found that separate areas of the brain coordinate much like little radio stations - to form memories involving time and space.

In Memorial-Hermann hospital at the University of Texas Medical Center in Houston, Neurosurgeon Nitin Tandon visits 26-year-old epilepsy patient Tyler.

Dr. Tandon has placed platinum electrodes on the surface of Tyler's brain so that he can monitor electrical signals when Tyler is having a seizure.

"Before we can even understand how we would come up with prosthetic devices that we may be able to use to supplant certain brain functions that have been lost, we have to model those and understand those at a computational level," Tandon said.

Since such studies contribute to the understanding of epilepsy, Tyler is a willing participant.

"I think the more education there is about it, the better off the rest of the people will be," Tyler said.

Patients like Tyler have also contributed to a study of how the brain forms memories of events in terms of time and space.

“It has been a puzzle how the brain communicates both with the "where" and the "when" areas,” Tandon said.

Dr. Tandon had patients with implanted electrodes carry out learning tasks that involved both space and time to see how the brain handled the information.

"The way the brain does this, that it accomplishes communication with these two different areas at the same time, is by using two different frequencies coming from the same part of the brain, the hippocampus," he said.

The hippocampus is a structure on the lower side of the brain that regulates the formation of memories that are then stored in separate areas of the brain.

“It is very much like saying that you have a radio station that is sending out signals to two different groups of listeners at the same time and it does that by using two different frequencies,” Tandon said.

At the University of California, Davis, neuroscientist Arne Ekstrom analyzed data from the brain scans -- applying graph theory techniques used to study information flow.

He, Tandon and their colleagues hope to pursue this investigation in future studies.

Since memory loss is one of the problems associated with epilepsy, Dr. Tandon says this research holds promise for epileptics as well.

“We are setting ourselves up for being able to restore memory dysfunction much better than we have with these electrodes in patients with epilepsy and also, potentially, at some point, being able to restore normal network dynamics,” Tandon said.

Dr. Tandon hopes that one day such advances could help epileptic patients like Tyler lead more normal lives.

You May Like

UN Watchdog Urges Israel to Probe Possible Gaza War Crimes

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in a 51-day war in Gaza, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel More

New Kenyan 'Thin SIMs' Poised to Transform African Mobile Money

Equity's new technology is approved in African nation for one-year trial, though industry leader Safaricom says thin SIMs could lead to data theft and fraud More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid