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

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
South Africa Sees Male Circumcision as Way to Reduce HIV Infectionsi
X
November 28, 2014 3:31 PM
South Africa remains plagued by AIDS despite massive government and NGO efforts on prevention and life-sustaining Anti-Retro-Viral programs. But the country has opened up another front to reduce new HIV infections: promoting circumcision. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from a pioneering circumcision center in Orange Farm, Johannesburg.
Video

Video South Africa Sees Male Circumcision as Way to Reduce HIV Infections

South Africa remains plagued by AIDS despite massive government and NGO efforts on prevention and life-sustaining Anti-Retro-Viral programs. But the country has opened up another front to reduce new HIV infections: promoting circumcision. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from a pioneering circumcision center in Orange Farm, Johannesburg.
Video

Video To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violence

The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.

All About America

AppleAndroid