We encounter so many things on a daily basis in our lives. It goes without saying that while we solidify some memories, we tend to forget about some of them. Have you ever wondered what it is in your mind and brain that consolidates and solidifies you memories?
A new study (R) conducted by the researchers at NeuroElectronics Research Flanders (NERF- empowered by imec, KU Leuven and VIB) found the rewarding experiences that result in the inception of stronger memories in our minds. The findings of this study were further solidified with studying further navigation in the rats.
With this, the researchers were successfully able to trace back the mechanism involved behind the selective memory enhancement to the replay processes that occur in the hippocampus which is considered as the memory processing centre in the brain.
These findings are believed to provide with a much bigger picture in terms of one of the most important factors which is the memory consolidation.
It is not unknown that we do tend to have better recollection of certain memories in comparison to the others. This could be result of a number of factors, including stronger memory encoding during the experience or even because of the memory consolidation that takes place after the incident has happened.
If you want better examples of how this works, let us guide you with one. We often tend to have a better memory recollection of rewarding incidents because they made us feel good about the situation included.
Prof. Fabian Kloosterman, who is currently conducting researchers to unravel the process of memory processing in the brain stated saying that one of the most common ways by which our brain tends to consolidate the memory is by mentally relieving the experience altogether.
Considering this in biological terms, when we try to relive the memory, it triggers the reactivation or even replay of the neuronal activity patterns which are associated with a certain involved experience. This whole process does occur in the hippocampal-cortical brain networks while we are asleep.
The main aim of the study which Kloosterman along with his team of researchers are focusing on is to find whether the positive effect of rewards on the hippocampal replay have impacts beyond the time of experience and thus further contributes to the process of memory consolidation.
Inclusion of rewards and challenges
To find the salient answers for their study, the researchers trained the rats to familiarize them with two goal locations in a similar setting. One of the goals was quite big and positive, nine food pellets while the other goal location only did have a single food pellet on offer.
Frédéric Michon, PhD student in the Kloosterman lab, who was responsible for conducting the experiments, said that the rats did better remember the goal location which had a better and larger reward in comparison to the other one. Additionally, they also witnessed that the reward related effect on the memory was the strongest when the food pellets were located around in the places which required a much more complex memory formation by the rats.
Reliving the memories
One of the most important factors associated with better recollection of the memory is by reliving the events one after the other in the sequence that they happened in.
This was something that the researchers did want to know more about. In order to learn about the contribution of the replay brain activity following the actual experience, the researchers worked to disrupt one of the important signally pattern in the neural signaling process. Although, this was done after the rats learnt and familiarized themselves with the place of the reward.
Shedding some light, Michon further stated saying that they observed that the memory was impaired only at the higher rewarding spots and especially in the positions where the rewards were placed around in the challenging locations around.
The researchers were able to demonstrate the natural hippocampal replay following the stage of initial learning is responsible for some of the consolidation of some of the highly rewarded experiences. The same also does depend on the difficulty of the task.
Kloosterman suggested saying that the findings of their study effectively relays the importance of the process of fine tuned memory consolidation of the memories. These findings are believed to help open further opportunities for the treatment associating for strengthening the memories and additionally could also be a lot helpful in understanding the shortcomings that affect some people suffering from some chronic age related diseases like dementia.