Researchers find new class of neurons that map memories

Researchers have uncovered a new class of brain cell that acts like the red pin on a Google map to tell you where you found things on past journeys. These neurons, dubbed memory-trace cells, are the place markers that record whether you had that mouth-watering gelati opposite the Trevi Fountain or just up the road from the Pantheon. On a more sombre note, they are clustered in a part of the brain that takes an early hit in the onset of Alzheimer's disease and may well explain the appalling degradation of memory seen in that illness. To unearth these very special neurons, the researchers, led by biomedical engineer Joshua Jacobs from Columbia University in the US, devised a clever video game, albeit one unlikely to rival Fortnite as a teen meme. Players ride a trolley along a road bounded on...

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SOTT FOCUS: MindMatters: Meaning in Chaos: Exploring Jordan Peterson’s Maps of Meaning (Chapter 2)

Dr. Jordan Peterson's 1999 classic Maps of Meaning contains much the raw material for his more recent lectures and writing. While a dense read at times, it's worth the effort. On this episode of MindMatters we take a look at the first sections in Chapter 2, which explore the universals of human experience: the unbearable present, the encounter with chaos, and its transformation into the ideal future. With examples from everyday life and neuropsychology, Peterson shows how we are hardwired to respond to novelty, constantly comparing our present state with our ideal future - however vague our notion of it may be. And how the inescapable presence of chaos and novelty mean we must constantly adapt our goals and the steps we take to reach them, constantly learning in the process and constantly transforming the present into the future. For...

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Stress hormone helps control the circadian rhythm of brain cells in rats

Researchers from the University of Copenhagen have shown how the brain's circadian rhythm in rats is, among other things, controlled by the stress hormone corticosterone - in humans called cortisol. This has been shown by means of a completely new method in the form of implanted micropumps. As day turns into night, and night turns into day, the vast majority of living organisms follow a fixed circadian rhythm that controls everything from sleep needs to body temperature. This internal clock is found in everything from bacteria to humans and is controlled by some very distinct hereditary genes, known as clock genes. In the brain, clock genes are particularly active in the so-called suprachiasmatic nucleus. It sits just above the point where the optic nerves cross and sends signals to the brain about the surrounding light level. From here, the suprachiasmatic...

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