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Penn researchers pinpoint the brain waves that distinguish false memories from real ones
Date:10/23/2007

at retrieval, distinguishing correct from incorrect responses, said Per B. Sederberg, lead author and former Penn neuroscientist now performing post-doctoral research at Princeton University. The timing of these oscillatory effects suggests that self-cued memory retrieval initiates in the hippocampus and then spreads to the cortex. Thus, retrieval of true as compared with false memories induces a distinct pattern of gamma oscillations, possibly reflecting recollection of contextual information associated with past experience.

Gamma waves actually predicted whether or not an item that was about to be recalled was previously studied, said Michael Kahana, a professor of psychology in Penns School of Arts and Sciences and lead investigator. In other words, one could see a difference in brain activity just prior to remembering something that had and had not actually happened.

In addition to providing a better understanding of how memory works, the findings may also provide a clearer picture of how to assist those suffering with epilepsy. In epilepsy's 2.6 million American sufferers, brain oscillations become so strong that they sweep across the brain, producing seizures. Although seizures are controlled with medication in two-thirds of people with epilepsy, the remainder may be candidates for surgery to remove the brain regions where seizures originate.

Identifying the neural signatures of successful memory storage and retrieval can help neurosurgeons reduce the cognitive deficits that might result from epilepsy surgery, said Brian Litt, associate professor of neurology and bioengineering at Penn, and a co-author of the study.

In addition, these techniques for mapping cognitive networks could give rise to better ways of mapping functional networks in brain, which may help in treating a number of neurological disorders, including depression, schizophrenia, head trauma and affective disorders, Litt said.


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Contact: Jordan Reese
jreese@upenn.edu
215-573-6604
University of Pennsylvania
Source:Eurekalert

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