What makes the first impression last?

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London, Mar 25 (ANI): Scientists at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and the California Institute of Technology have found how the memory of a first impression lasts in the brain.

They have suggested that when memory-related neurons in the brain fire in sync with certain brain waves, the resulting image recognition and memories are stronger than if this synchronization does not occur.

Synchronization is influenced by "theta waves," which are associated with relaxation, daydreaming and drowsiness, but also with learning and memory formation.

While it has long been understood that a relaxed mind is one that is ready to receive new information, the study pinpoints a mechanism by which this state of mind allows neurons to work together to improve memory retention.

Further exploration of these events could have implications for developing new therapies to treat learning disabilities and some types of dementia, according to the authors.

"Theta oscillations are known to be involved in memory formation, and previous studies have identified correlations between memory strength and the activity of certain neurons, but the relationships between these events have not been understood. Our research shows that when memory-related neurons are well coordinated to theta waves during the learning process, memories are stronger," said Dr. Adam N. Mamelak.

"We have yet to discover all factors that influence theta oscillations and the coordination of spike timing, but this study establishes a direct relationship between events at the circuit level of the brain - individual neuron spike timing relative to the local brain wave environment - and their effects on human behavior," said Dr. Ueli Rutishauser.

He said that the study also found that while the predictability of memory strength was determined by spike timing relative to theta oscillations, it was not influenced by other related factors, such as the neuron-firing rate or the amplitude of the theta oscillations.

This study was conducted with eight volunteers who suffer from epilepsy and were undergoing intracranial EEGs.

The authors note that steps were taken to ensure that the patients' underlying medical condition did not affect the outcome of the study.

The study has been published in the journal Nature. (ANI)

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