University College London researchers recently decoded thinking patterns using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to detect which memories a person was recalling during the scan, an AFP article reported. The results might hold profound implications for traumatic brain injury victims and other suffering from memory loss.
The head of the study, Eleanor Maguire said, “We’ve been able to look at brain activity for a specific episodic memoryï‚¾to look at actual memory traces. We found that our memories are definitely represented in the hippocampus. Now that we’ve seen where they are, we have an opportunity to understand how memories are stored and how they may change through time,” the AFP article noted.
A Smart Planet article said, “By knowing how memories are stored, scientists hope to see how they are affected by aging and injury.” The hope is that researchers will find ways to better prevent and mitigate damage to memory structures in the brain.
The study, published in the March 11, 2010 edition of Current Biology, involved predicting which of 4 films each of 10 people were thinking by way of an fMRI scan. Maguire said, “Given a set of memories, we could tell just from the patterns of activity in the hippocampus which memory a person was recalling,” an AOL News article reported. However, this doesn’t mean that scientists can read our minds. The techniques the researchers used required fine-tuning for the study participants.
A Geeks are Sexy article mentioned that the results might make it possible to differentiate between real and false memories and between fresh and older memories. They added that “by learning more about how the brain forms and recalls memories, it may be possible to learn more about the causes and potential treatment of conditions such as Alzheimer’s.”
AFP Staff. (March 11, 2010) “Brain scan can read people’s thoughts: researchers.” Retrieved on March 12, 2010 from the Google News Web site:http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5j1QUZEkzsVVjqf-88NzA_…
Lister, J. (March 12, 2010) “Memories are made of this.” Retreived on March 12, 2010 from the Geeks Are Sexy Web site: http://www.geeksaresexy.net/2010/03/12/memories-are-made-of-this/
Mone, Gregory. (March 11, 2010) “Scientists Can See What’s On Your Mind.” Retrieved on March 12, 2010 from the AOL News Web site: http://www.aolnews.com/science/article/you-read-my-mind-scientists-use-b…
Nusca, Andrew. (March 12, 2010) “Brain scans can read your mind, researchers say.” Retrieved on March 12, 2010 from the Smart Planet Web site:http://www.smartplanet.com/business/blog/smart-takes/brain-scans-can-rea…