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fMRI shows how brain organizes memories into a single narrative

Investigators from the University of California, Davis have used functional MRI to show how the hippocampus organizes discrete memories into a single overarching narrative.

The study, conducted under the auspices of the university's Center for Neuroscience, is part of a "new era in memory research," according to a statement released by the university. Traditionally, neuroscience has been focused on basic memory processes, while psychology has focused on how memory "captures and connects events in the 'real world.' " But these fields are beginning to overlap, said study lead author Brendan Cohn-Sheehy, a doctoral student.


Humans remember events by creating stories about them and then organizing them into an encompassing account, Cohn-Sheehy noted. But the "chapters" of the narrative aren't always linear.


And although it's thought that the hippocampus is key to how the brain creates these narratives from discrete events, it's unclear exactly how it does this, Cohn-Sheehy and colleagues wrote. Using fMRI, the group explored this question, visualizing the hippocampus of study participants as they heard and then recalled short stories.

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