Brain stimulation could help in reactivating memories, reports a recent study by researchers from University of Notre Dame.

Working Memory Of The Brain

According to the study, people likely forget the names of persons they just met at a party after the conversation is over. However, the names could be recollected if they shift back to the conversation again. Researchers noted that the working memory of the brain plays a key role in recollecting the names of people.

While psychologists are trying to understand the concept of working memory for years now, Nathan Rose, researcher at ND, and his team have come up with a new theory to explain the process.

One of the widely accepted theories, which is prevalent since 1940s, has it that the neurons that are involved in "information actively firing throughout a delay period" save information on memories.

Synaptic Theory Of Working Memory

In a study published in the journal Science, Rose and his team proposed that synaptic theory, a less common and not-well-studied theory, is responsible for the working memory in human brain. According to synaptic theory, with the help of changes in weights or links between neurons, the information can be stored in the specific region of brain for short period.

For the purpose of the study, the researchers asked a group of healthy young adults to remember two things: a face and a word. When they were monitored under the neural imaging system, it was found that different areas of brain were active when the two different things were remembered.

When the participants were told to remember one thing specifically, the brain activity associated with the other thing completely vanished. However, it was found that the participants did not forget the other thing, which was unattended, and were able to remember it when they were prompted to. During which, the part of the brain that is associated with that name or face started to perform actively.

Frankenstein Effect

When the researchers gave transcranial magnetic stimulation to the participants, they were able to retrieve their unattended memory easily. This was possible only when the participants were aware that they need to remember the specific object or thing later for some purpose.

The process by which the memory is revived with the help of magnetic pulse is known as the Frankenstein effect.

"Once the item is no longer relevant on the trial, we don't see the same reactivation effect," Rose said in a press release. "So that means this is really a dynamic maintenance mechanism that is actually under cognitive control. This is a strategic process. This is a more dynamic process than we had anticipated."

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