New 3D computer model of brain gives a glimpse of how memories form

Researchers have developed a method to create 3D models of memory-related brain structure to give a glimpse into how memories form.

The Mercator Foundation and the Ruhr University Bochum, Germany have started the Mercator Research Group to study memory structure. Dr. Martin Pyka and his colleagues from the Mercator Research Group hope to reconstruct the anatomic data of the brain into a 3D model using a computer.

Scientists explain that the interconnection between neurons is complex, especially when it comes to the cells of the hippocampus, which is the major component of the brain in humans and vertebrates. There are two hippocampi in each side of the brain, which also resemble a sea horse. The hippocampus assists in the formation of memory and in navigating space. Very little information is known regarding the anatomic understanding of the neural networks that lie inside this region and the connection it has with other parts of the brain.

The hippocampus is one of the major parts of the brain. Scientists suggest that in Alzheimer's disease, the hippocampus is among the first regions that get damaged, leading to disorientation and memory loss.

Dr. Pyka reveals that the approach they have adopted is pretty unique as it auto-calculates neural interconnections based on their position within the brain. The latest technique is able to produce memory structure much more easily than any previous methods. Scientists are able to monitor the neural signal spread in the brain with the help of the 3D models.

"The hippocampus' form and size could explain why neurons in those networks fire in certain frequencies," the study claims.

With the help of the latest method, scientists have so far created 3D models of a rat's hippocampus. The 3D models also include different layers of the brain, such as the entorhinal cortex, subiculum CA3 and CA1 regions.

The scientists believe that the study is significant as it can help them have a better understanding of how animals put together several pieces of information to memorize aspects, such as different types of dangers and sources of food, and remember them when needed.

The findings have been published in the trade journal Frontiers in Neuroanatomy.

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