If you meet an old friend for lunch, your brain will likely create a memory forever linking that friend to the restaurant you dine in.
For the first time, researchers at the University of Leicester and the University of California Los Angeles could see this association being created, according to a study published in Neuron. When your brain associates a person with a place, neurons in one area of the brain change behavior and a link is formed, the authors claim.
Years ago, scientists discovered a response in the medial temporal lobe that responds only to a specific place or person.
The research shows these neurons will respond to two people—but only if they are connected somehow. “A neuron that was responding to Jennifer Aniston was also responding to pictures of Lisa Kudrow,” another actress on the TV program Friends, explains Matias Ison, one of the study’s authors. The actresses were often on-screen together, so it makes sense the brain would create a link.
Researchers wanted to know if it was those same neurons in the medial temporal lobe creating the link. Doing so could help explain how diseases like Alzheimer’s make it harder to form new memories, the authors suggest.
To find out, researchers monitored medial temporal brain cells on 14 epilepsy patients who had electrodes implanted in their brains.
They began the study by identifying the patients’ neurons responding to pictures of a specific famous person, like Jennifer Aniston. Researchers then identified responses to pictures of specific places, like the Eiffel Tower.
Next, to monitor the brains forming a new link between a person and a place, the patients were shown a fake image combining the person and the place, for example, Jennifer Aniston at the Eiffel Tower.
This caused neurons in the medial temporal lobe to change behavior, creating a new memory forever linking the person and the place.
“When the association is created, suddenly the cell very rapidly changes its firing properties,” says Itzhak Fried, co-author of the study and head of the Cognitive Neurophysiology Laboratory at UCLA. For instance, he explains, a cell that previously responded to pictures of Jennifer Aniston will now respond similarly to pictures of the Eiffel Tower.
Fried believes these changes could help explain how the brain creates memories of information beyond just people and places. He says these neurons could help us re-assemble everything relevant to our memories.
It could also explain why people with Alzheimer’s may not remember where they parked their car. “I have to create an association between my car and the particular place. If an association is not created, then I will not be able to find my car,” says Fried.
The more threads you have in your memory web, the more new information you can easily learn. This is especially true when you have many threads in a particular area, because your learning curve for facts is exponential; the more you know, the quicker you can learn more.
Expand your memory web with these tips:
• Watch knowledge videos. These fall into two categories: documentaries that interest you but you have not seen (yes-videos) and programs that would generally not interest you (no–videos). No-videos will generally have few or no threads in your memory web.
*Allow yourself 20 minutes every day for five days a week to watch yes-videos. This will expand your knowledge base painlessly, amounting to nearly seven hours per month.
*Use “piggy bank” time to watch no-videos. For example, when watching a TV program, flip to a no-video during commercial breaks. Once you learn about these subjects, your interest in them may increase.
• Read fiction. You may already read a lot of nonfiction, but fiction also creates many useful threads. The key is to find novels on subjects or periods in history that will help you. They offer new experiences to live vicariously.
• Listen to audio courses or audio books while in the car, showering, or cleaning.
Adding just 20 minutes of these memory-enhancing tips in your day will help new information and associations stick and keep your neurons infinitely active.
To further absorb what you learn, listen to the Memory Supercharger Paraliminal before you go to sleep, during lunch, or between clients. Simply push play, close your eyes, relax, and listen.
This closed-eye process activates your “whole mind” with a precise blend of music and words to help you get the most out of every minute.
To learn more about Memory Supercharger and all our other Paraliminal programs, please click here.