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Symphony of memory formation revealed

campus is located on the floor of each lateral ventricle. The debilitating effects of damage to the hippocampus were highlighted in the 2001 feature film "Memento," which told the story of a man who struggles to track his wife's killer despite a head injury that destroys his ability to form short-term memories.

The UCLA study used fMRI to scan the brains of volunteers as they viewed information using goggles with a TV display. Researchers first introduced pairs of names and faces in sequence and instructed volunteers to learn which face corresponded to which name. In order to distract the subject to prevent rote rehearsal, researchers then asked the volunteers to focus on a crosshair on the screen and report any change. Finally, the researchers showed the volunteers the earlier faces at random, asking them to recall the name associated with each. The process was repeated five times over eight minutes.

Researchers used the scans to evaluate blood-oxygen level dependent signals. When the brain becomes active, blood flow increases. The magnetic properties of hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to body tissues, vary depending on the level of oxygenation. These differences can be detected by fMRI.

Other UCLA researchers on the team were Stephen A. Engel of the Department of Psychology; Paul M. Thompson of the Laboratory of Neuroimaging and Department of Neurology; and Susan Y. Bookheimer of the Ahmanson-Lovelace Brain Mapping Center and Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, Division of Brain Mapping.


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Contact: Dan Page
dpage@support.ucla.edu
310-794-2265
University of California - Los Angeles
23-Jan-2003


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