Cedars-Sinai researchers are leading a new study to look at how the brain forms and recalls memories. During the study, investigators will record the activity of neurons in different parts of the brain, using small electrodes inserted into brain implants in patients undergoing surgical treatment for drug-resistant epilepsy.
“Our long-term goal is to enable the development of new treatments that combat the devastating effects of memory disorders like Alzheimer’s disease,” says lead investigator Ueli Rutishauser, PhD, director of Human Neurophysiology Research at Cedars-Sinai.
The research will test how short-term memory helps form long-term memory, and how long-term memories inform decisions.
“Our long-term goal is to enable the development of new treatments that combat the devastating effects of memory disorders like Alzheimer’s disease.”
For example, if you are asked if you recognize someone in a photo, you must access your memory and decide whether to answer yes or no. The teams will look at the mechanisms that make such memory-based decisions possible.
Investigators want to gain a detailed understanding of the neural networks behind the conscious recollection of learned information.
“This is a large-scale effort to understand each step in the brain’s process of forming and retrieving memories, and how those memories influence the many decisions we make in our day-to-day lives,” says Rutishauser.
In addition to Cedars-Sinai, the study includes researchers from Boston Children’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Johns Hopkins, and University Health Network in Toronto.
The new research project is made possible by a grant from the National Institutes of Health. The NIH’s Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative aims to further our understanding of the human brain.
“The BRAIN Initiative is fostering work that’s critical to the advancement of neuroscience in the US,” said Dr. Patrick Lyden, chair of the Department of Neurology. “Cedars-Sinai is honored to be selected as one of a small group of distinguished institutions capable of doing this specialized work.”