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Short-term memory is based on synchronized brain oscillations
Date:1/31/2012

This press release is available in German.

Holding information within one's memory for a short while is a seemingly simple and everyday task. We use our short-term memory when remembering a new telephone number if there is nothing to write at hand, or to find the beautiful dress inside the store that we were just admiring in the shopping window. Yet, despite the apparent simplicity of these actions, short-term memory is a complex cognitive act that entails the participation of multiple brain regions. However, whether and how different brain regions cooperate during memory has remained elusive. A group of researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics in Tbingen, Germany have now come closer to answering this question. They discovered that oscillations between different brain regions are crucial in visually remembering things over a short period of time.

It has long been known that brain regions in the frontal part of the brain are involved in short-term memory, while processing of visual information occurs primarily at the back of the brain. However, to successfully remember visual information over a short period of time, these distant regions need to coordinate and integrate information.

To better understand how this occurs, scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Biological Cybernetics in the department of Nikos Logothetis recorded electrical activity both in a visual area and in the frontal part of the brain in monkeys. The scientists showed the animals identical or different images within short intervals while recording their brain activity. The animals then had to indicate whether the second image was the same as the first one.

The scientists observed that, in each of the two brain regions, brain activity showed strong oscillations in a certain set of frequencies called the theta-band. Importantl
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Contact: Dr. Stefanie Liebe
stefanie.liebe@tuebingen.mpg.de
44-207-837-5433
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
Source:Eurekalert  

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