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April 5, 2007

We almost thought we knew it all

This memory thing is proving to be elusive. QuantumFogs retinue of neuron researchers at the Weizmann Institute discovered the brain doesn't work the way everyone thought it did.

Dr. Ilan Lampl says most people think the brain forms unique firing patterns, with each pattern related to a certain object or specific thought. A chair would have one pattern, the wall color another. There's been some evidence to support this idea.

The Doctor found something different. He recorded neuron patterns in the cortex of rats and found them to be no different than randomized data. The patterns seem to have occurred by chance. But, he shouldn't give up yet.

A different team from Caltech and UCLA posits the notion that each neuron is capable of recognizing something specific. Christof Koch from Caltech, says the brain is not a simple set of switches.

The Caltech-UCLA team wired up consenting patients with intracranial electrodes and monitored specific neurons. Patients selected sets of pictures as the research team took note of how a neuron responded. A given neuron would react to a picture of Jennifer Anniston, but not to a picture of Anniston and Pitt.

The provocative tease in the picture is a scantily clothed neuron in the hippocampus.

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