AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 26, Number 4, 2017

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Cedars-Sinai Investigators Identify Human Brain Processes Critical to Short-term Memory

Findings show how the brain’s cells create and recall memories, giving boost to development of treatments for memory disorders

Cedars-Sinai neuroscientists have uncovered processes involved in how the human brain creates and maintains short-term memories. “This study is the first clear demonstration of precisely how human brain cells work to create and recall short-term memories,” said Ueli Rutishauser, PhD, associate professor of Neurosurgery in the Cedars-Sinai Department of Neurosurgery and the study’s senior author. “Confirmation of this process and the specific brain regions involved is a critical step in developing meaningful treatments for memory disorders that affect millions of Americans.” The study’s findings involve a type of brain cell, called a persistently active neuron, that is vital for supporting short-term memory. Results indicate that this specific type of neurons remain active for several seconds when a person is required to memorize an object or image and recall it at a later time. The findings reveal critical new information on how the human brain stores and maintains short-term memories – the ability to remember ideas, thoughts, images and objects during a time frame of seconds to minutes. Short-term memory is essential for making decisions and mental calculations. 

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