Making connections between objects (like looking at someone and thinking of an animal or object to help remember their name) improves our ability to remember – that’s how all our brains work. It seems that everyone’s brain functions in like manner when assessing a situation and laying down a memory

Nature:   Every memory leaves its own imprint in the brain, and researchers are starting to work out what one looks like.

For someone who’s not a Sherlock superfan, cognitive neuroscientist Janice Chen knows the BBC’s hit detective drama better than most. With the help of a brain scanner, she spies on what happens inside viewers’ heads when they watch the first episode of the series and then describe the plot.

But Chen and her colleagues found something odd when they scanned viewers’ brains: as different people retold their own versions of the same scene, their brains produced remarkably similar patterns of activity.

Chen and others have since refined their techniques to decode memories with increasing precision. In the case of Chen’s Sherlock studies, her group found that patterns of brain activity across 50 scenes of the opening episode could be clearly distinguished from one another. These patterns were remarkably specific, at times telling apart scenes that did or didn’t include Sherlock, and those that occurred indoors or outdoors.

Near the hippocampus and in several high-level processing centres such as the posterior medial cortex, the researchers saw the same scene-viewing patterns unfold as each person later recounted the episode — even if people described specific scenes differently1. They even observed similar brain activity in people who had never seen the show but had heard others’ accounts of it.

“It was a surprise that we see that same fingerprint when different people are remembering the same scene, describing it in their own words, remembering it in whatever way they want to remember,” says Chen. The results suggest that brains — even in higher-order regions that process memory, concepts and complex cognition — may be organized more similarly across people than expected.

These findings suggest some of the neurobiological mechanisms that link individual memories into more general ideas about the world. “Our memory is not just pockets and islands of information,” says Josselyn. “We actually build concepts, and we link things together that have common threads between them.” The cost of this flexibility, however, could be the formation of false or faulty memories: Silva’s mice became scared of a harmless cage because their memory of it was formed so close in time to a fearful memory of a different cage.

Read the full article (fascinating): https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-00107-4?utm_source=pocket&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=pockethits

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