A new study reveals that making long-term memories isn't so complicated after all.
Scientists have been studying the way the brain processes and stores information for decades. According to a press release from the University of Sussex in the U.K., a recent study suggests that the brain mechanisms underlying the creation of long-term memories are simpler than previously thought.
The study suggests that simply rehearsing information after it is presented to you is all it takes for your brain to store it as a permanent memory.
The study’s findings were published on Oct. 27 in the Journal of Neuroscience. The researchers also discovered that the region of the brain, the posterior cingulate, that becomes active when a person lies down is the same one associated with long-term memories. This part of the brain helps us recall details of an event, and stores them into our consciousness permanently.
The study examined patients who were shown 26 40-second clips of YouTube videos that had a narrative element. For the first 20 videos, participants were given a 40-second period to recall the events of the video and recite them to researchers. On the last six, however, they were asked to immediately recite the narrative of the clip.
The participants were able to recall details from the first 20 videos two weeks after the study. They largely forgot the clips that they viewed last.
According to lead researcher Dr. Chris Bird, “We know that recent memories are susceptible to being lost until a period of consolidation has elapsed. In this study we have shown that a brief period of rehearsal has a huge effect on our ability to remember complex, lifelike events over periods of 1-2 weeks. We have also linked this rehearsal effect to processing in a particular part of the brain — the posterior cingulate.”