hippocampus Archives - Unhinged

Relational Memory and the Hippocampus

by Doug 0 Comments

Declarative memory – Memory for facts and events, to be contrasted with procedural memory, which supports the ability to acquire and express skills (or the difference between “knowing that” and “knowing how”). The nature of declarative representations, thought to be fundamentally relational and flexible, makes it possible for such memory to be consciously accessed and “declared”.

Explicit memory – A kind of memory based on explicit remembering or conscious recollection of some prior learning episode, or the kind of memory test that requires explicit remembering; usually defined in contrast to implicit memory, involving the ability of behavior to be influenced by previous experience without requiring the individual to consciously recollect the prior experience.

Recollection – A process that results in the retrieval of additional information about a particular item from memory beyond its oldness; this information could be some detail of the study experience such as the color of the font of the item or its location on the screen, or some internal state at study time, such as what the item reminded you of.

Relational memory – Memory for relations among the constituent elements of experience, providing the ability to remember names with faces, the locations of various objects or people, or the order in which various events occurred. Can be contrasted to item memory, i.e., of the individual elements themselves. The hippocampus is required for memory for arbitrary or accidentally occurring relations.

Place cells – When an animal is exploring its environment, principal neurons of the hippocampus fire preferentially in particular regions of the environment corresponding to the neurons’ “place fields”; in this way, a set of such neurons can represent the entire environment. The “places” are represented relationally, in terms of the relations among elements in the environment.

Source memory – Memory for information about an item beyond the item itself; i.e., its various relations to other elements of the event. In laboratory experiments, this usually refers to the particular location of an item on the computer screen, the color of the font or format in which the item is displayed, or the voice or identity associated with some piece of presented information.

Unitization – The fusing, blending, or configuring of multiple aspects of a sensory array into a single-item representation; thought to be accomplished by cortical regions outside of the hippocampus [such as in the fusiform face area (FFA) for faces, and the perirhinal cortex for some complex objects], and less flexible and less relational than hippocampal representations of multiple objects.

*NCBI -National Center for Biotechnology Information

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Unhinged Episode #049: Fear: The Halloween Special

by Ed 1 Comment
Unhinged Episode #049: Fear: The Halloween Special

It’s Halloween, which brings us to our special episode on FEAR. What scares us, and why? We talk about the horror movies that scared us growing up, and why we enjoy them. What is it about a good horror movie that gets our hearts racing? Why do we enjoy being scared? There’s science behind that and we talk about some of the theories.

Besides scary movies, we also discuss other fears of ours, including heights, speed, public speaking, insects, and more. Through the study of fear, scientists can now identify what areas in the brain are responsible, hopefully leading to more accurate and successful treatments of anxiety.

We all have fears. Sometimes they might seem irrational, but we know what scares us. Some fears are debilitating, and some can be fun. Our brains decide that for us, but with more research, we can hope to one day be able to reliably control the volume knob of our anxieties.

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