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Researchers from UT South-western have found over 100 memory-sensitive neurons which determine how we create and recall memories. The researchers titled the study Neurons in the Human Medial Temporal Lobe Track Multiple Temporal Contexts During Episodic Memory Processing and published it in the NeuroImage journal.

The researchers believe that their findings could help people with Schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease, or traumatic brain injury.

A traumatic brain injury could affect memory

A traumatic brain injury results from a violent jolt and blows to the head or body. Pieces of a shattered skull or bullets which penetrate the brain can also cause it. In addition, traumatic brain injury can be mild, moderate, or severe.

Mild traumatic brain injury temporarily affects neurons. Severe, traumatic brain injury, on the other hand, bleeding, bruising, and tears tissues of the brain. People with moderate to severe brain injury often exhibit memory problems as it destroys parts of the brain responsible for remembering and learning.

Since there are various types of memory, traumatic brain injury affects people differently. Moreover, people who suffer from prismatic brain injury might not have difficulty remembering past long-term events. However, they could have difficulty learning new information and events after their injury.

According to an Associate Professor of Neurological Surgery and lead study author, Dr. Bradley Lega, neurons of the medial temporal lobe track different temporal contexts for episodic memory processing.

Scientists discover phase offset in humans 

Dr. Legal adds that the study explains how people remember past events and new ones. Furthermore, the researchers concluded that firing occurred at different times depending on other brain activities when retrieving memories.

The difference in time is called phase offset. Until now, scientists have not made this discovery in humans. These results show how people re-experience events and monitor if the brain is experiencing new memories or has previously encoded them.

In addition, the researchers found 103 memory-sensitive neurons in the entorhinal cortex and hippocampus. These brain regions are more active after the brain successfully embodies a memory. The same thing occurred when people recalled these memories.

This finding could explain why hippocampal dame in people with schizophrenia disrupts their ability to tell apart memories from delusions and hallucinations.