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Getting a grasp on memory
Date:3/31/2011

. When the scientists looked at the fMRI results, they were surprised to find that among the areas that lit up in the scans - those known to be involved in object recognition, for instance - was the amygdala. The amygdala is more famously known as the seat of emotion in the brain. Though it has recently been found to play a role in the consolidation of certain memories, studies have implied that it does so by attaching special weight to emotion-laden events. But the images used in the experiment - hot-air balloons, dogs, people looking through binoculars, etc. - were hardly the sort to elicit an emotional response. Yet, not only was the amygdala lighting up in the fMRI, the team found that its activity was actually predictive of the subject's ability to identify the degraded image long after that moment of induced insight in which it was first recognized.

'Our results demonstrate, for the first time, that the amygdala is important for creating long-term memories - not only when the information learned is explicitly emotional, but also when there is a sudden reorganization of information in our brain, for example, involving a sudden shift in perception,' says Ludmer. 'It might somehow evaluate the event, 'deciding' whether it is significant and therefore worthy of preservation.'


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Contact: Yivsam Zagad
news@weizmann.ac.il
972-893-43852
Weizmann Institute of Science
Source:Eurekalert

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