How we recall where we've parked our cars
A new study has revealed that a previously understudied part of the brain is essential for forming the basis for contextual memories, which help you to recall events ranging from global disasters to where you parked your car.
According to the study by Dartmouth, the retrosplenial cortex, which has remained unknown till now, is important for contextual memory.
By using a newly developed technology known as chemogenetics, Professor David Bucci's laboratory is beginning to elucidate how different brain structures contribute to contextual learning and memory. Developed at the University of North Carolina, the chemogenetics technique enables researchers to "remotely control" the activity of brains cells. This is accomplished by using a virus to transfers genes for a synthetic receptor into a brain region.
The receptors are responsive only to a synthetic drug that is administered through a simple injection. By binding to the receptors, the drug temporarily turns off -- or turns on -- brain cells in that region for a short amount of time.
The researchers said that by providing new insight into the function of this part of the brain, the findings will also have implications for understanding the basis for illnesses that impact contextual memory, such as Alzheimer's disease, as recent studies have shown that the retrosplenial cortex is one of the first brain areas that is damaged in persons with Alzheimer's disease.
The study was published in the journal The Journal of Neuroscience.
(Posted on 13-08-2014)