How is the brain able to recall events in a chronological order? Two studies from UT Southwestern shed light on this question. The findings from these studies could potentially provide a basis for new treatments against memory loss.
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Almost ten years ago, a certain group of neurons were discovered in rats. Aptly called “time cells”, these neurons help in recording the time of events, allowing the brain to correctly arrange the events in an episodic memory.
Located in the brain’s hippocampus, these cells show a characteristic activity pattern while the animals are encoding and recalling events, explains Bradley Lega, M.D., associate professor of neurological surgery at UTSW and senior author of the PNAS study. By firing in a reproducible sequence, they allow the brain to organize when events happen, Lega says. The timing of their firing is controlled by 5 Hz brain waves, called theta oscillations, in a process known as precession.
Lega investigated whether humans also have time cells by using a memory task that makes strong demands on time-related information.
Learn more about these studies over at MedicalXpress.
(Image Credit: Melissa Logies/ MedicalXpress)