Archive for April 29th, 2009

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Neuroscientists decode brain activity important for navigation and spatial memory

April 29, 2009

How many times have you wondered where did I leave my keys?  Activity in your hippocampus and medial temporal lobes encodes the answer.

A new study using high resolution brain imaging has shown that the encoding of memories involves the precise pattern of activity of a very large number of neurons in the human hippocampus.  The hippocampus and surround medial temporal lobes are important parts of the brain for our ability to navigate, form and recall memories, and imagine future experience.  This study found that the pattern of activity can be read like a map to accurately “predict” what environment you are in and your location within the environment.

A group of Neuroscientists at the Welcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging at University College London led by Dr. Eleanor Maguire have imaged the pattern of activity in the hippocampus and surrounding medial temporal lobe of human subjects while they navigated around a virtual environment.  The researchers asked if there is a reliable pattern of activity in the hippocampus, like a map, that can be read to predict where the subject is in the environment.   The results of this study are “yes” — there is a functional structure to the pattern of activity in the human hippocampus that encodes your location in an environment.
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