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New research reveals memories go through several transition stages since they are encoded

Nov, 2021

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Beijing Normal University researchers recently published a study that aimed to shed more light on the neurological mechanisms behind the modification of neural representations of memories through time and their consequences on memory consolidation.

The group used the intracranial electroencephalography (EEG) approach in their tests, which allows for the capture of brain images with great spatiotemporal resolution. They used EEG to ask sixteen epileptic patients who had EEG electrodes placed in their brain for diagnostic purposes to perform a long- and short-term memory task in which they were shown visual and verbal associations and then asked to recollect them after varying amounts of time.

Following that, the team used deep learning algorithms to examine the recordings they acquired while individuals completed the memory tests. This enabled them to investigate the long-term effects of neuronal representation alterations on memory encoding and development. The researchers also analyze neural representations linked with different experimental items (such as images) during the memory encoding, short-term memory maintenance, and long-term memory retrieval stages. They focused on the distinctive qualities of these representations and how they altered over time in order to acquire a better understanding of the role of memory transformations through different memory stages.

The brain representations of the items that individuals were required to remember began to change immediately after these images were presented, according to the researchers. Furthermore, they discovered that the neural models of these images gathered at the time of the retrieval stage of the long-term memory task resembled to those collected at the time of the retrieval stage of the short-term memory task more than most collected at the time of the memory encoding stage. 

Collectively, the results provide more support for the modification of memory-specific neuronal representations during the stages of encoding, short-term retention, and long-term retention of memory. In the coming years, their findings could help to guide future research into the alteration of these brain representations, as well as improve insights into memory processes.

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