Long-term memories of certain areas are gathered in the so-called place cells of brain. A group of neuroscientists led by Dr. Andrea Burgalossi from the University of Tübingen’s Werner Reichardt Centre for Integrative Neuroscience (CIN) have reprogrammed now such place cells in mice that are free roaming, by sending across many different electrical impulses directly to individual neurons. Following stimulation, these place cells were reprogrammed in such a way that their place-related activities switched their location where the stimulation was done.
Long-Term Memories Help Day to Day Functioning of Human Beings
How does one know what happened had happened to him or her yesterday, or last year? How does one recognize places one has been, people one has met? Sense of past, which always comes with the recognition of what is present right now, is probably the one of the most significant building blocks of our identity. Furthermore, from not being late to work as we are not able to remember where the office was, to know who our family and friends are, long-term memory is what that helps us to function in our day to day lives.
It is therefore not surprising that human brain depends on some of the very stable representations so as to form long-term memories. One such instance is memories of places where we have been. To each of the new places, our brain makes a match with a subset of neurons in the hippocampus (a centrally situated brain area that is key to formation of memories): place cells. The memory of a certain given environment is thought to be gathered as a certain combination of place-cell activities in the hippocampus: the map of a place. Place maps continue to be stable as long as we remain in the same environment, but reorganize their pattern of activity in many different locations, thereby creating a new place map for each of the environments
The study is now being published in Cell Reports.