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Brain Cells Observed Summoning a Memory

timothy posted about 6 years ago | from the can-we-say-frickin'-amazing? dept.

Biotech 381

Anti-Globalism writes "Scientists have for the first time recorded individual brain cells in the act of summoning a spontaneous memory, revealing not only where a remembered experience is registered but also, in part, how the brain is able to recreate it."

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I just summoned some 'memories' (1, Insightful)

thealsir (927362) | about 6 years ago | (#24884441)

and they gave me +5 HP.

Nah, this is sweet, as it puts one more dagger into the idea that memories are not stored in the mind but the "soul." (Whatever that is.)

Plus, of course, the scientific value of studying the brain.

Re:I just summoned some 'memories' (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24884477)

soul is a delusion of the delusional religious fags. Memories most certainly occur in the mind. Asshole

GOATSE! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24884733)

You nerds love it!
http://goatse.cz/ [goatse.cz]

Re:I just summoned some 'memories' (5, Interesting)

Nathrael (1251426) | about 6 years ago | (#24885019)

As far I know, not only religious people use the term "soul". Psychologists use it too, although in a a little bit different meaning as the various afterlife-guys.

Re:I just summoned some 'memories' (3, Interesting)

zappepcs (820751) | about 6 years ago | (#24884489)

For every guy out there, (misogynist comment inbound) I have to say I hope this leads to better understanding of how women communicate and remember things as compared to men. Perhaps there will be a translator, or a pill to make them more understandable? doh!

Well, perhaps this will lead to true understanding of memories, and how the brain actually functions. I hope. I'd like to see some real AI in my lifetime and the human brain is the best example we have of how to create that.

 

Re:I just summoned some 'memories' (5, Funny)

AnotherUsername (966110) | about 6 years ago | (#24884595)

I just want to know when I will be able to download into my mind knowledge. I'll take an order of all the languages in the world, with a side of advanced mathematics and physics, and maybe some animal science for dessert.

Re:I just summoned some 'memories' (4, Funny)

nilbog (732352) | about 6 years ago | (#24884933)

Don't forget Jujitsu and a crash course in helicopter piloting.

Anyone? Anyone?

Re:I just summoned some 'memories' (0, Redundant)

Dekker3D (989692) | about 6 years ago | (#24884989)

"i know kung fu"

Re:I just summoned some 'memories' (4, Interesting)

Jimbob The Mighty (1282418) | about 6 years ago | (#24885061)

Hmm, actually, is there a nuerological difference between memories and "muscle memory"?

Because I'd laugh my ass off at somebody who thought they would be able to jump straight into a 7th dan Karate Kata, and fall flat on their face.

Re:I just summoned some 'memories' (5, Informative)

am 2k (217885) | about 6 years ago | (#24885105)

Yes, muscle memory is stored in the cerebellum, not the cerebrum. That's why you don't have to "think" about it to do it.

Most of the martial arts training is about moving the information from the latter to the former.

Re:I just summoned some 'memories' (1)

Datamonstar (845886) | about 6 years ago | (#24884993)

Animal science. Would you by any chance mean Biology, perhaps? God, you really DO need this technology, don't you?

Re:I just summoned some 'memories' (1)

jabithew (1340853) | about 6 years ago | (#24885101)

I think "Zoology" actually.

Re:I just summoned some 'memories' (-1, Flamebait)

hedwards (940851) | about 6 years ago | (#24884701)

Honestly, if you post this sort of thing of course you're going to get a sexist reply. I mean the assumption that it's men that's broken is in and of itself sexist.

If women would treat their partners better, believe them when they say they're thinking about nothing and stop assuming that every detail is being cataloged, quite a few of these problems would largely stop happening.

Of course they're going to be exceptions, and most guys would love to find one. But realistically women bad mouth men because they don't want to admit that they're being unreasonable. In most cases it's not the man, but the poor judgment when choosing that's to blame.

Re:I just summoned some 'memories' (1)

GigaplexNZ (1233886) | about 6 years ago | (#24884879)

Honestly, if you post this sort of thing of course you're going to get a sexist reply. I mean the assumption that it's men that's broken is in and of itself sexist.

I got the feeling that zappepcs wasn't suggesting that at all. Then you went on to blame it all on the Women. At least you got the "of course you're going to get a sexist reply" part right...

Re:I just summoned some 'memories' (1)

jabithew (1340853) | about 6 years ago | (#24885115)

But it's easy to blame it on women on Slashdot! There are none here to correct you...

Re:I just summoned some 'memories' (3, Funny)

Jimbob The Mighty (1282418) | about 6 years ago | (#24885049)

Actually, I'm looking forward to the idea of being able to implant some of the more impressive memories from porn.

Cue song..."The human brain is for porn.

Of course, this will mean rickrolling will be taken to a whole new level.

Re:I just summoned some 'memories' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24885163)

"human brain is the best example we have of how to create that."

Condition 1 : Bush is not a human

Re:I just summoned some 'memories' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24884513)

Nah, this is sweet, as it puts one more dagger into the idea that memories are not stored in the mind but the "soul."

...Who believes that the soul stores memories, exactly?

Re:I just summoned some 'memories' (1)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | about 6 years ago | (#24884681)

Children.

Re:I just summoned some 'memories' (1)

spazdor (902907) | about 6 years ago | (#24884743)

The religious.

Re:I just summoned some 'memories' (2, Funny)

uhlume (597871) | about 6 years ago | (#24885147)

I think he just said that.

Re:I just summoned some 'memories' (0, Flamebait)

renegadesx (977007) | about 6 years ago | (#24884795)

Sarah Palin apparently does.

Re:I just summoned some 'memories' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24885047)

...Who believes that the soul stores memories, exactly?

Well, consider: "The soul is eternal, it suffers neither birth nor death..."

So, can you remember where "you" were 500 years ago?...

The brain that recorded the required memories has long since turned to dust. So if "you" ever hope to be more than this single instance, a "soul" will be necessary.

Otherwise, your reincarnation in the next life/planet/galaxy/dimension will start from scratch.

Re:I just summoned some 'memories' (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24884631)

No one I know has ever contested that memories are stored in the "mind." What is debated is whether they are stored in the brain (as opposed to DNA, RNA, patterns in the physical structure of the brain, ect.) In this subject that distinction is very important. Particularly given that from a neuroscience perspective, "Mind" and "Soul" might as well be synonymous.

This is certainly a large step towards understanding memories, but it doesn't tell us anything about where the memories are stored, just what part of the brain activates when a memory is recalled. (That they've got it down to specific neurons is either highly impressive or a exaggeration in my estimation.)

Oh and "Soul" = "Dark Energy" you know "We have no fucking clue how to account for the data so we're going to name it this until we come up with something better."

When they can isolate the "Bing" moment (the point at which neurological function gives rise to experiential phenomenon) then we can put down the idea of a soul entirely, not before.

Re:I just summoned some 'memories' (4, Insightful)

Nathrael (1251426) | about 6 years ago | (#24885045)

When they can isolate the "Bing" moment (the point at which neurological function gives rise to experiential phenomenon) then we can put down the idea of a soul entirely, not before.

Sadly, not everyone will. While everyone who has a clue about science certainly will, a lot of people rather trust religion than science and will continue to believe that memories are stored in the soul. After all, there are also a lot of people out there who still believe in ID, even with all the overwhelming scientific research against it.

Re:I just summoned some 'memories' (5, Interesting)

andreicio (1209692) | about 6 years ago | (#24885141)

I think that for some people the 'soul' theory is the reason they trust religion, not the other way around.
You'll have to agree that it is a bit depressing knowing for certain that your existence is just the few years you spend 'alive' and after that it's all gone. And for some, it's too depressing.
Humans need to know they'll live on somehow, that their lives have some meaning. And if you're not famous enough to hope for historical eternal life, than soul is what you have left.

Re:I just summoned some 'memories' (5, Interesting)

Nathrael (1251426) | about 6 years ago | (#24885165)

Actually, I find the thought of simply ceasing to exist not that bad; although I seriously don't want to die (and thus are transhumanist), believing in no afterlife were you would be judged gives you a nice feeling of freedom - while religious people usually try to avoid a lot of things since they want to reach heaven (or whatever else they believe in how they will be rewarded for a life devoted to their god[s]), I act on my own moral criterias without any pressure, being free to choose what is right and what not on my own.

Though yes, I fully agree with you.

Re:I just summoned some 'memories' (1)

jabithew (1340853) | about 6 years ago | (#24885137)

The concept of a soul is more like phlogiston, that magic substance that had to gain more and more bizarre properties so people could keep it (after all, you can *see* it so it must be there).

I think the time when a soul can be accepted as a reasonable explanation of phenomena by rational individuals has long since passed. If you believe in it as an article of faith, I have no problem with that, but don't pretend it's a scientific theory.

p.s. I've never bought into dark energy either, sounds too much like bullshit. One day I could be proved wrong though...

Not really the results only show (1)

FromTheAir (938543) | about 6 years ago | (#24884687)

The results only show the neurons that become active it does not actually show where the memories are stored.

Re:I just summoned some 'memories' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24884717)

Do you remember waking up in the mortuary every once in a while with a floating skull accompanying you?

Did the skull tell you that you have a whole lot of things written on your back?

If you answered "yes" to the above question... Stay well away from the Lady of Pain doll, and when you see Lothar at the Bone of the Night, don't offend or make fun of him, ever. Otherwise, have fun.

Re:I just summoned some 'memories' (1)

Cassius Corodes (1084513) | about 6 years ago | (#24885009)

Dont trust the skull

Re:I just summoned some 'memories' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24884793)

No, it doesn't do that at all. See, those who contend that the "soul" is responsible for memories (particularly those who believe in past lives) at least tacitly acknowledged that the mind is involved in the process.

By way of analogy, consider the internet. If you did not have knowledge of networks or the internet, you might conclude that it is the computer is storing all the information of the internet, rather than getting it from somewhere else. You'd be wrong.

In the same way, people will still be able to claim that it is the soul that stores memories, with your mind serving as the computer.

la le la (1)

djupedal (584558) | about 6 years ago | (#24884461)

Waiting for someone to post the content to yet-another-register-to-read-linked-article....

Re:la le la (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24884497)

You must be new here. Everyone knows that Slashdotters don't read the article, especially if it's a New York Times article that you don't have to login for.

Re:la le la (2, Funny)

djupedal (584558) | about 6 years ago | (#24884581)

For the Brain, Remembering Is Like Reliving

By BENEDICT CAREY
Published: September 5, 2008
For the first time, scientists have recorded individual brain cells fetching a spontaneous memory.
For free access to this article and more, you must be a registered member of NYTimes.com

Re:la le la (1)

RuBLed (995686) | about 6 years ago | (#24884509)

I RTFA article just fine without registering unless my brain tried to create/recreate the contents of the article while I was RTFS.

Re:la le la (1)

Mincer Lightbringer (979840) | about 6 years ago | (#24884915)

I've found that it is usually possible to read http://nytimes.com/ [nytimes.com] articles without the need for login via CoralCDN [coralcdn.org] -- in the case of this article, the link would be http://www.nytimes.com.nyud.net/2008/09/05/science/05brain.html?_r=2&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&oref=slogin&oref=slogin [nyud.net]

bet the wont summon one from me (3, Funny)

ArsonSmith (13997) | about 6 years ago | (#24884465)

Like the one where I rtfa'd.

Cool but... (0)

Brad1138 (590148) | about 6 years ago | (#24884473)

As science progresses at an almost geometric rate, how long till we truly understand the brain and DNA etc... How long till we can artificially create a "sentient being" or even a "human". How long till we see "Borg" like (although hopefully more attractive) interfaces, or have the ability to read and or view peoples memory. Sounds very cool and very scary at the same time.

Re:Cool but... (3, Interesting)

moteyalpha (1228680) | about 6 years ago | (#24884809)

Well I have created a few humans already and they also have children. The normal way is much easier. As far as neural arrays that exceed human understanding this is a sticky question when you ask who would be the designated driver. Very much depends on how all this is implemented and I imagine it will be a bigger zoo than the internet. It is easy to use machines to increase our effectiveness but it levels the playing field of who is smarter when everybody has an AI as an advisor. It seems we are backing into another problem like the internet and how it influences life itself in odd ways.It is good to consider what it will become before it becomes a reality. I think the goals of the people who create the machines will tell how they effect those who don't prepare for the eventuality.

This is your Brain (Cell) on Drugs Ads? (-1)

Zymergy (803632) | about 6 years ago | (#24884485)

Ok, now I want to see the actual images of individual human brain cell deaths during the consumption of alcohol or other Drugs.
Imagine, A whole new generation enjoying the "This is your Brain (cells) on Drugs, Any Questions?", Ad Campaigns... (Might be more interesting than the egg broken into the frying pan bit)

Re:This is your Brain (Cell) on Drugs Ads? (4, Funny)

ArsonSmith (13997) | about 6 years ago | (#24884501)

I'm hoping this six pack will wipe out 3rd grade. Man I hated that Tommy Butler douche bag.

Get high feed your yeast colonies explains it (1)

FromTheAir (938543) | about 6 years ago | (#24884729)

Yes but there is a way to counteract the damage from Acetaldehyde
Get high feed your yeast colonies explains it. http://newswire.pro/candida_yeast.htm [newswire.pro]

I have doubts (3, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 6 years ago | (#24884487)

Past studies have shown how many neurons are involved in a single, simple memory. Researchers might be able to isolate a few single neurons "in the process of summoning a memory", but that is like saying that they have isolated a few water molecules in the runoff of a giant hydroelectric dam. The practical utility of this is highly questionable.

Re:I have doubts (3, Insightful)

Iamthecheese (1264298) | about 6 years ago | (#24884593)

Yes! It has no utility! Like that ultra expensive Hadron Colider! Or theoretical physics! Or the first electron microsope! Or playing around with lightning and carbon!

In all seriousness, this is the first step on the road to a computer that can Feed Me Information Directly! yipeeeeee!

Re:I have doubts (1)

Splab (574204) | about 6 years ago | (#24884725)

Or even better; help those who have lost their memory to regain it, I can't think of much worse things to happen than to lose all memory.

Re:I have doubts (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | about 6 years ago | (#24884849)

Lose your CPU? Although you probably wouldn't mind afterwards.

Re:I have doubts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24884739)

In all seriousness, this is the first step on the road to a computer that can Feed Me Information Directly!

Or remove it. Either can be potentially used for good or bad. Essentially they have discovered the biological brain uses something akin to FAT. Researchers are trying to reverse engineer the brain. Multitudes of potential uses ranging from brain enhancements, cures, etc to new interogation methods, thought programming, etc. Science fiction becoming science fact while creating more science fiction and choices leading to history.

Re:I have doubts (1)

Nathrael (1251426) | about 6 years ago | (#24885075)

Probably, though I'm pretty sure that removing memory will be a lot harder than adding it. And also, if that technology would come into the wrong hands - hey, it's still better to have erased parts of your memory than to get killed.

Re:I have doubts (2, Insightful)

blahplusplus (757119) | about 6 years ago | (#24884643)

"The practical utility of this is highly questionable."

Many things in science have little practical utility until well after the fact. We could name a lot from mathematics alone, someones little curiousity becomes some key concept for understanding some other problem somewhere down the line. While I agree not all of them turn out like that, the fact is we're going to have dead ends no matter which way you slice it, it's one long search for what is true and relevant.

Re:I have doubts (1)

Frangible (881728) | about 6 years ago | (#24884665)

That isn't the point; the study isn't claiming to have deduced how memory works (I like the fun theories involving microtubules and quantum fields there, but hey). It simply shows that activation patterns during recall correlate with those during actual experience, much like is the case with memory encoding in REM sleep.

This is significant because those correlations in experience and recall can profoundly effect our current mental state and environment. Imagery is a tool used very efficiently in sports psychology and works on the same principles.

On the other hand, other studies have shown in recovering from traumatic events, those who recount the negatives of the experience, focus on pain recall, how they were hurt, etc actually have much worse outcomes than patients not receiving any therapy.

Other studies have yet shown similar correlations involving mirror neurons for observing someone else performing an action; if they lift their hand, and we watch them with full attention, the part of our motor cortex correlating with actually performing that action will activate in us. And this is actually used to create procedural ("muscle") memory without ever having actually done that action!

The take home lesson is that what is active and what is not active in your brain right now is influenced by not only what you experience, but also by what you remember, what you think about, and what you imagine. And these things are both good and bad, and are controlled to a significant degree by you.

Address bus (1)

shmlco (594907) | about 6 years ago | (#24884957)

When I read the article, what stuck me the most was not that the specific pattern observed WAS the memory, but more like the control sequence needed to create it and then retrieve it.

In computer terms, it seemed like putting a set of addresses out on the memory bus, controlling the storage in and then out of a block of RAM.

Re:Address bus (1)

Frangible (881728) | about 6 years ago | (#24885079)

That's part of it certainly-- at some point through mechanisms we don't really understand the memory has to be referenced-- but it's also more than that; the correlates in regional activity mirror structures that tend to serve more active roles in the experience than in memory encoding per se.

imo a (rough) computer analogy would be something akin to having a Counter-Strike screenshot also be a partial memory dump from very specific regions of the processor and your 3D card, and opening that screenshot later loads those memory dumps and overwrites what you were doing, forcing those same things to be re-executed. (fortunately computers don't do that, and that's one reason they don't have emotional problems ;) )

Re:I have doubts (1)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | about 6 years ago | (#24884699)

Past studies have shown how many neurons are involved in a single, simple memory.

The article even says:

Dr. Fried said in a phone interview that the single neurons recorded firing most furiously during the film clips were not acting on their own; they were, like all such cells, part of a circuit responding to the videos, including thousands, perhaps millions, of other cells.

The practical utility of this is highly questionable

Where in the article does it suggest this has practical utility? It seemed to me to be full of implications that this was just one step in a long process:

"It's a really central piece of the memory puzzle and an important step in helping us fill in the detail of what exactly is happening when the brain performs this mental time travel" of summoning past experiences.

Re:I have doubts (1)

Grey Ninja (739021) | about 6 years ago | (#24884723)

I don't know. If you isolate what a few drops of water do, you pretty much know what a giant body of water will do. It will flow downhill. You honestly have to start somewhere.

The zen of slashdot (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 6 years ago | (#24884835)

Understand TFA without RTFA. (my emphasis)

Re:I have doubts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24885001)

All great things start off as farts in the wind.

Re:I have doubts ... summons Star Trek memories (1)

davidsyes (765062) | about 6 years ago | (#24885081)

Seven of Nine might say that waterfall/droplet analogy could represent a glimpse into the lack of order in the chaos in the human mind. No Vinculums available for puny human brains. But, i am SURE Lord Garth could do something about it. Even Dr Simon van Gelder's hijacked neural neutralizer chair could help out. Though, i'd steer clear of the Klingon 'Mind Sifter/Mind Reaper'. Don't bother trying to read the Kazon brain: Seven told Neelix 'The Kazon were UNWORTHY of Assimilation.' Best ST SLAM.

Careful! (4, Insightful)

suck_burners_rice (1258684) | about 6 years ago | (#24884527)

Knowing how a memory is stored and how the brain can recreate it might lead to some crazy new technologies in the future, such as being able to load gigabytes of data into your brain by using energy to manipulate the brain into "remembering" things that were never there. Of course, it could lead to some extremely scary scenarios, like messing with people's heads by putting things in there that aren't supposed to be. I hope the scientists are being really, really careful on this one!

Re:Careful! (-1, Troll)

QuantumG (50515) | about 6 years ago | (#24884609)

I like your enthusiasm but your Ludditism is unnecessary.

Re:Careful! (1)

Barny (103770) | about 6 years ago | (#24884695)

Pfft, quit yappin' and hand me my memory doubler :P

Re:Careful! (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | about 6 years ago | (#24884851)

"I had to dump a chunk of long-term memory - my childhood." -- Johnny Mnemonic

Re:Careful! (2, Funny)

incognito84 (903401) | about 6 years ago | (#24884859)

Actually, it could serve as a way to punish criminals without burning through tax dollars with prison time. Just take all of their most beloved memories and replace them with a picture of Chuck Norris and the sensation of being kicked in the groin. For example, from their wedding day, all they'll remember is: "Honey, I d--Chuck Norris?! Ow, my groin!"

Re:Careful! (1)

Yetihehe (971185) | about 6 years ago | (#24885071)

DHS will catch people accused of being terrorists. If they don't find anything offending, they will plant some memories and presto!, we have terrorist, he can even plead guilty...

Self portriat (1)

Utopia Tree (1040146) | about 6 years ago | (#24884533)

What does a memory of what a memory being recovered look like?

Re:Self portriat (1)

Jorgandar (450573) | about 6 years ago | (#24884547)

It looks a lot like John McCain's speaches.

Re:Self portriat (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24884575)

It looks a lot like John McCain's speaches.

The correct spelling is 'speeches'. :)

Re:Self portriat (5, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 6 years ago | (#24884569)

What does a memory of what a memory being recovered look like?

I sometimes have epileptic seizures which make me spontaneously remember past events. Sometimes it causes me to recall events which may not have happened. I am literally processing garbage data.

The seizure often interferes with the recording of memory, probably because it is messing with the replay of memory at the same time, so it is difficult to report exactly what the experience consists of after the event, beyond a simple outline.

Wow (2, Funny)

XanC (644172) | about 6 years ago | (#24884673)

That's quite fascinating! (I hope the condition isn't too serious, of course.) The idea of a brain processing garbage data is certainly thought-provoking. Do you have any buffer overflow vulnerabilities that could lead to an exploit?

Re:Wow (1)

zobier (585066) | about 6 years ago | (#24884953)

A few years back a /.er told of recovering from a seizure like their brain rebooting, senses coming online one-by-one. I wish I could find the link now.

Re:Wow (3, Informative)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 6 years ago | (#24885087)

A few years back a /.er told of recovering from a seizure like their brain rebooting, senses coming online one-by-one. I wish I could find the link now.

That might be a good way to describe it, but it is probably not close to what actually happens. Long term memory is one of the most vulnerable brain functions. It is the first to be lost when anything goes wrong and the last to come back.

My recollection of recovering from a grand mal seizure is that of vague memories early on and better memories later. That is consistent with long term memory starting to come back. But the spotty early memories include myself apparently behaving normally: talking to people, etc. So simple functions may come back quote quickly.

Re:Wow (2, Informative)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 6 years ago | (#24884979)

That's quite fascinating! (I hope the condition isn't too serious, of course.) The idea of a brain processing garbage data is certainly thought-provoking. Do you have any buffer overflow vulnerabilities that could lead to an exploit?

Possibly. When I was a teenager I would sometimes be terrified of small things. I don't have a fear of heights except a small height like standing on a curb could generate strange fears.

I took medication for my condition between the ages of 19 and 25. It is mostly under control now, possibly because of the medication but also possibly because I have learnt what states to avoid.

I am very much aware that the brain is not a stored program computer. Memory, behaviour and (to some extent illness) are all hard wired. If an anomoly is caused by a particular state in my brean then I can avoid the problem by avoiding that state.

Over time I have become much more relaxed. I avoid the stressful conditions which I associated with having seizures. Maybe I have learnt around the problem. Maybe the drugs changed my brain. Maybe this is a natural change which everybody experiences.

Re:Self portriat (2, Informative)

anss123 (985305) | about 6 years ago | (#24884689)

Sometimes it causes me to recall events which may not have happened. I am literally processing garbage data.

Everyone remembers events that never happened. "False memory" they call it, and according to trusty old Wikipedia there's no way to distinguish between a false memory and a true one.

Re:Self portriat (1)

zobier (585066) | about 6 years ago | (#24884939)

You mean my past lives weren't real!?

Re:Self portriat (4, Funny)

uhlume (597871) | about 6 years ago | (#24885167)

...according to trusty old Wikipedia there's no way to distinguish between a false memory and a true one.

Sure there is, just check the revision history and talk pages.

Re:Self portriat (1)

drpimp (900837) | about 6 years ago | (#24884789)

Recently a friend/worker had a seizure at work. It was quite scary, especially because 2 weeks prior, another friend of mine passed away due to having a seizure, suffocate in his sleep after (Similar to the Olympian Flo-Jo). Both of which do not have epilepsy, nor could the doctors determine why they have them. What if the concept of "a pointer to your memory in your brain is invalid" triggers the seizure, your brain reads the data at that pointer and then somehow just before post-ictal phase your brain recovers? This is something I have pondered on before and just curious what anyone else may think.

Re:Self portriat (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | about 6 years ago | (#24884883)

The seizure often interferes with the recording of memory, probably because it is messing with the replay of memory at the same time, so it is difficult to report exactly what the experience consists of after the event, beyond a simple outline.

Kinda like dreams? [xkcd.com]

Re:Self portriat (2, Funny)

RuBLed (995686) | about 6 years ago | (#24884613)

What does a memory of what a memory being recovered look like?

A core dump...

Stimulate the neurons (1)

tsa (15680) | about 6 years ago | (#24884551)

I wonder what will happen if you stimulate the neurons instead of listening to them. Despite the impressive results obtained, we still know nothing about how the brain stores memories. Maybe stimulating the neurons in a patient will help understanding that a bit.

Re:Stimulate the neurons (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24885037)

You mean like elecro-shock therapy? Do you have a tongue depressor for me to bite down on?

nod (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24884563)

What is this "nod" tag on all the stories? Is it the new "idle"?

CERN ATLAS likedetector? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24884577)

I'd like to see them build an instrument a little like CERN's ATLAS. The person's head goes in the middle and the detector precisely measures the electric field (instead of particles) as a time varying function in the entire 3D region around the person with very high resolution. The measurements are then back projected to give a neuron level map of the entire brain in real time over logn periods of time. Yes it would generate CERN sized data sets and require CERN sized computers to crunch the numbers, but the results would be fascinating.

What the article actually says... (5, Informative)

Anik315 (585913) | about 6 years ago | (#24884587)

To summarize the article, researchers have determined that the neurons which are fired when an event is experienced are the same neurons that are fired when it is remembered. That's all it says. It does not say that our experiences and memories don't independently exist, just that they correlate with neural activity.

Article Text (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24884607)

September 5, 2008
For the Brain, Remembering Is Like Reliving
By BENEDICT CAREY

Scientists have for the first time recorded individual brain cells in the act of summoning a spontaneous memory, revealing not only where a remembered experience is registered but also, in part, how the brain is able to recreate it.

The recordings, taken from the brains of epilepsy patients being prepared for surgery, demonstrate that these spontaneous memories reside in some of the same neurons that fired most furiously when the recalled event had been experienced. Researchers had long theorized as much but until now had only indirect evidence.

Experts said the study had all but closed the case: For the brain, remembering is a lot like doing (at least in the short term, as the research says nothing about more distant memories).

The experiment, being reported Friday in the journal Science, is likely to open a new avenue in the investigation of Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia, some experts said, as well as help explain how some memories seemingly come out of nowhere. The researchers were even able to identify specific memories in subjects a second or two before the people themselves reported having them.

"This is what I would call a foundational finding," said Michael J. Kahana, a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, who was not involved in the research. "I cannot think of any recent study that's comparable.

"It's a really central piece of the memory puzzle and an important step in helping us fill in the detail of what exactly is happening when the brain performs this mental time travel" of summoning past experiences.

The new study moved beyond most previous memory research in that it focused not on recognition or recollection of specific symbols but on free recall â" whatever popped into people's heads when, in this case, they were asked to remember short film clips they had just seen.

This ability to richly reconstitute past experience often quickly deteriorates in people with Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia, and it is fundamental to so-called episodic memory â" the catalog of vignettes that together form our remembered past.

In the study, a team of American and Israeli researchers threaded tiny electrodes into the brains of 13 people with severe epilepsy. The electrode implants are standard procedure in such cases, allowing doctors to pinpoint the location of the mini-storms of brain activity that cause epileptic seizures.

The patients watched a series of 5- to 10-second film clips, some from popular television shows like "Seinfeld" and others depicting animals or landmarks like the Eiffel Tower. The researchers recorded the firing activity of about 100 neurons per person; the recorded neurons were concentrated in and around the hippocampus, a sliver of tissue deep in the brain known to be critical to forming memories.

In each person, the researchers identified single cells that became highly active during some videos and quiet during others. More than half the recorded cells hummed with activity in response to at least one film clip; many of them also responded weakly to others.

After briefly distracting the patients, the researchers then asked them to think about the clips for a minute and to report "what comes to mind." The patients remembered almost all of the clips. And when they recalled a specific one â" say, a clip of Homer Simpson â" the same cells that had been active during the Homer clip reignited. In fact, the cells became active a second or two before people were conscious of the memory, which signaled to researchers the memory to come.

"It's astounding to see this in a single trial; the phenomenon is strong, and we were listening in the right place," said the senior author, Dr. Itzhak Fried, a professor of neurosurgery at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the University of Tel Aviv.

His co-authors were Hagar Gelbard-Sagiv, Michal Harel and Rafael Malach of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, and Roy Mukamel, of U.C.L.A.

Dr. Fried said in a phone interview that the single neurons recorded firing most furiously during the film clips were not acting on their own; they were, like all such cells, part of a circuit responding to the videos, including thousands, perhaps millions, of other cells.

In studies of rodents, including a paper that will also appear Friday in the journal Science, neuroscientists have shown that special cells in the hippocampus are sensitive to location, activating when the animal passes a certain spot in a maze. The firing pattern of these cells forms the animals' spatial memory and can predict which way the animal will turn, even if it makes a wrong move.

Some scientists argue that as humans evolved, these same cells adapted to register a longer list of elements â" including possibly sounds, smells, time of day and chronology â" when an experience occurred in relation to others.

Single-cell recordings cannot capture the entire array of circuitry involved in memory, which may be widely distributed beyond the hippocampus area, experts said. And as time passes, memories are consolidated, submerged, perhaps retooled and often entirely reshaped when retrieved later.

Though it did not address this longer-term process, the new study suggests that at least some of the neurons that fire when a distant memory comes to mind are those that were most active back when it happened, however long ago that was.

"The exciting thing about this," said Dr. Kahana, the University of Pennsylvania professor, "is that it gives us direct biological evidence of what before was almost entirely theoretical."

Re:Article Text (1)

zobier (585066) | about 6 years ago | (#24884621)

Damnit, missed the dashes. Got the quotes and apostrophes though.
It's the 00's /., can we please have Unicode now?

Re:Article Text (1)

zobier (585066) | about 6 years ago | (#24884645)

I mean it looks like it's trying to do UTF but it's failing.

Will it help me remember where I left my keys? (1)

rubies (962985) | about 6 years ago | (#24884641)

Can't get home. Oh wait, I rode the bicycle in today.

Turn them off! (1)

palemantle (1007299) | about 6 years ago | (#24884653)

Dr. Itzhak Fried, the senior researcher involved in the project complained to the gathered reporters about getting frantic calls in the middle of the night.

The caller, who'd only identify himself as Alberto or as G, wanted Dr Fried to tell him how he could turn the little blasted cells off, the ones that did the "recalling" anyway.

Whats that tingling sensation? (2, Funny)

greysunrise (1261960) | about 6 years ago | (#24884685)

Get out of my head!

Um, we've known this for well over 10 years!!!! (4, Informative)

iHal (1213402) | about 6 years ago | (#24884719)

This is interesting and I don't mean to be cynical, but neuroscience is at least 10 years behind cognitive science and psychology. I can't wait until they can use all their fancy technology to tell us something psychologists and psychophysicists don't already know :) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Embodied_Embedded_Cognition [wikipedia.org] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Embodied_cognition [wikipedia.org] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Situated_cognition [wikipedia.org]

Re:Um, we've known this for well over 10 years!!!! (2, Informative)

taylorcp (615045) | about 6 years ago | (#24884907)

It isn't the most elegant post but the mods definitely need to mod this up. The idea that neuroscience retreads the ground trod by cognitive scientists, psychologists and psyhcophysicists is essentially and profoundly true. Take the case of light detection where a study by Hecht, Schlaer & Pirenne done with psychophysical methods in the 40s estimated the minimum number of photons needed to detect a light. This result was only "measured directly" by neuroscientists in the late 1980s. Color vision is another example. Well worked out by psychophysicsts long before neuroscientists could say anything about opponent colour channels in the brain. There's been a recent bias to laud people who stick electrodes into cells... but this doesn't make the science particularly ground-breaking.

Re:Um, we've known this for well over 10 years!!!! (2, Insightful)

Cassius Corodes (1084513) | about 6 years ago | (#24885065)

Yeah but eventually you have to pop it open and take a peek inside - making conclusions from observable behaviour only takes you so far. Unfortunately neuroscience was stuck in a rut for a long time and only in the early 90s did it begin to emerge and embrace some new ideas.

One step closer to to the upload ! (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | about 6 years ago | (#24884731)

Where is my mind now ?

The article will be more low-key (4, Interesting)

Nemus (639101) | about 6 years ago | (#24884735)

This is the kind of claim you make in the NY Times or another public media outlet: while it might happen, because sometimes people do stupid things, I doubt the actual research article will go so far as to say anything so far-fetched.

While it makes logical sense (memory, so far as it is located any single place, does seem to be strongly linked to the deeper, distinct organs within the brain, like the hippocampus), there is no actual way to "know" what exactly is going on: this is a quasi-experimental design, at best, and at most all they can reliably say is "Similiar structures in the brain responded in a similar way during recall of an event compared with how they behaved during the observation of the event itself." For example, it has been shown in some studies that areas in the occipital area of the brain (which has been strongly linked to vision) "light up" when a subject is asked to describe a previously viewed visual stimulus: however, researchers in these studies make no claims to such being evidence of an observed activation of a memory, which is essentially the claim being made here. Typically, the most they will offer in such studies is that the brain may be "spoofed" into thinking it is viewing the same stimulus again, thus activating certain, similiar function. Logically, both the visual research and this phenomena certainly sound like memory: but logic isn't science, nor is something true because it makes logical sense. Newtonian mechanics make logical sense, but good luck building a model of the universe as successful as one provided by quantum/relativistic physics, which often times make utterly no logical sense.

This is one of the key problems in any kind of study concerning phenomena which are part and parcel of the conscious mind/brain: being that we do not experience the subject's perceptions ourselves, and since consciousness is so singular and personal, we might never be able to say with any clear confidence what we are observing in the brain. However, kudos to the researchers. At the very least they've examined a function (whatever it is) within the brain that is an utter pain in the ass to study.

Curious (1)

nickswitzer (1352967) | about 6 years ago | (#24884769)

This talks about spontaneous memory recalling. What if it isn't spontaneous and you are trying to recall something, does that matter? Yes it seems to be good for the field especially for dementia, but what if what these people are experiencing is the wrong type of memory recollection and the type they are looking for is stored elsewhere? I guess I am just skeptical about the knowledge about that this "type" of memory has compared to others, if there are others (I assumed there were since it described the recollection as spontaneous instead of just a memory).

Tits (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24884857)

Tits, every cell is optimized to remember tits.

Awesome innovation! ; (5, Funny)

assemblerex (1275164) | about 6 years ago | (#24884909)

We're one step closer to a "Forget your first sexual encounter" pill.

Wait (1)

eclectro (227083) | about 6 years ago | (#24885011)

Pics or it didn't happen.

Your sig (1)

Iamthecheese (1264298) | about 6 years ago | (#24885095)

I'm fine, but thanks anyway.
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