May 18, 2022

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Decoding the "secret code" that the brain uses to encrypt quick memories  Science

Decoding the “secret code” that the brain uses to encrypt quick memories Science

Working memory is a cognitive system with limited use and capability that is responsible for temporarily storing information for processing, allowing information to be retained temporarily and processed for short periods of time.

For decades, scientists have wondered how and where the brain encrypts rapid memories. One theory suggests that working memory depends on specialized ‘stores’ in the brain, where the brain is separate from the place where it handles emotional information from the eyes or nose, and another counter theory states that there are no such private stores.

Working memory

Here, both of these theories are challenged New studyPublished in the April 7 issue of Neuron Magazine, Rather than modifying what happens during cognition or trusting specialized memory stores, work memory collects the most relevant sensory information from the environment and summarizes it in relatively simple code.

Working memory is a cognitive system with limited use and capability that is responsible for temporarily storing information for processing, allowing people to hold and temporarily process information for short periods of time, for example when you view a phone number. Remember the sequence of numbers to call, or when a friend asks for directions to a place, then follow the turns.

Working memory allows you to store and process information for a short period of time (Shutterstock)

Working memory basically acts as a bridge between perception (when we read a phone number) and action (when we dial that number). The term work memory is often used interchangeably or synonymously with short-term memory, but many theorists emphasize the significant difference between them.

Working memory puzzles

Clayton Curtis, senior author of the study, is a professor of psychology and neurology at New York University, according to a report. A statement “There is evidence that what we have stored for decades (in working memory) may be different from what we perceive,” LiveScience said in an email.

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To solve the mysteries of working memory, Curtis and Jonah Quake, PhD students at New York University, used brain scanning technology, also known as functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI), which measures the activity of the brain by monitoring changes associated with blood flow to different areas. Brain.

This technology is based on the fact that it connects the blood flow and neurological function of the brain, and when a part of the brain is in use, the blood flow to that area increases, so this technology indirectly provides brain cell function.

Researchers have used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) technology to solve working memory puzzles (Shutterstock).

The team used this technique to scan the brains of 9 volunteers. In one experiment, participants looked at a circle of gratings on a screen for about 4 seconds; Then the graphic disappeared and after 12 seconds, participants were asked to memorize the angle of inclination.

In other experiments, participants all looked at a cloud of moving points that turned in the same direction, and were asked to memorize the exact angle of motion of the point cloud.

Participants were asked to focus only on the direction of the diagonal lines or the angle of motion of a point cloud, so the researchers assumed that their brain activity reflected only specific features of the graphics, and this is what they actually discovered during the group. The brain scan data were then analyzed.

An important step forward

The researchers used computer modeling to visualize complex brain activity, creating a type of topographic map representing activity in different groups of brain cells, which helped participants understand how brain activity relates to what they observe on the screen during memory work.

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Specialists in imaging and radiation examine patients' images through computer screens
Researchers use computer modeling (Shutterstock) to visualize complex brain function

This analysis reveals that instead of encrypting all the minute details of each graphic, the brain stores only the relevant information needed for the task. Line-like patterns of brain activity appeared in the visual cortex, where the brain receives and processes visual information, and the parietal cortex is an important part of processing and storing memory.

Derek Ni, an assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience at Florida State University, says in an email to Live Science that the new work represents an “important step” in the study of working memory. “This study provides unprecedented insight into this mysterious intermediate stage between cognition and action,” he added.

One limitation of the study was that the panel used very simplified graphics that did not necessarily reflect the real-world visual problem. This limit has been extended to multiple studies of work memory. “In order to move us from the laboratory to practical use, we need to move the field towards richer stimuli that better fit in with our natural visual experiences,” the educator concluded.