It’s still a mystery how the brain records time and place of any incident within a memory. Some UT southwestern researchers discovered how our brain encodes time and place into memories. Whenever you see or attend any event your brain tends to record and store the information where and when it happened. This kind of information storing memory is known as Episodic memories.
These episodic memories can be lost whenever your specific part of the brain meets with an accident or a disease. For example, Alzheimer’s disease – is a progressive disorder that causes your brain cells to delete or degrade the memories of when and where you experienced it. These memories are made in the medial temporal lobe which includes the hippocampus and the medial entorhinal cortex.
The researchers set up an experiment on mice, in which a group of neurons known as “time cells” has been discovered on rats. These cells tend to play an important role by storing the data when an event takes place. Which allows the brain to correctly store the information of what happens in the episodic memory. By using a brain imaging technique the scientists traced the neuron activity in the medial entorhinal cortex.
Bradley Lega, M.D., associate professor of neurological surgery at UT South Western medical center said that “For years scientists have proposed that time cells are like the glue that holds together memories of events in our lives,” “This finding specifically supports that idea in an elegant way.”
She also looked over whether humans do have time cells by using memory tasks which makes strong demands on time-related information. Some epilepsy patients were hired and they went under surgery to remove the damaged parts of the brains which spark seizures. And electrodes were implanted into brains in order to help surgeons to track down the seizure foci and to provide some information about the brain’s inner workings.
When Lega and researchers recorded the electrical activity from the hippocampus in patients’ brains, they have also done “free recall” tasks asking them to read a list of words and for distracting them from reading a short math problem was also given. The final results left the scientists in excitement. Not only they found the robust population of time cells, but also how well they were able to do temporal clustering (linking of words together in a time).
Our brain has two separate sets of brain circuits in the medial entorhinal cortex that was specifically adjusted to record time or information. With how brain records time and place scientists also discovered that the simulation technique might be able to imitate the precise patterning of time cells to help people accurately remember more events.