Scientists have discovered that the brain repeats a pre-sleep process neuronally during sleep. Researchers think that this repetition is the brain’s transfer of memories into long-term memory.
Scientists have long known that the brain needs sleep to review events throughout the day and transfer them to long-term memory. However, how the brain hides memories has not been fully understood to date.
Scientists from Brown University, Stanford University, and Case Western Reserve University were able to observe how the brain transfers our short-term memories into long-lasting memory during sleep with the small microelectrodes placed in the brain of two epileptic patients.
Scientists who came together for the study published in Cell Reports magazine created an academic research consortium. Scientists used BrainGate technology for these studies of the brain.
BrainGate is an implant system developer that continues to be developed to control the communication of the limbs with people with various diseases or ALS patients known as motor neuron disease with the robotic arms and the world.
BraingGate’s surgeons placed a series of electrodes in the subjects for the study. After the electrodes were placed, subjects were asked to consider the movement in only one direction. BrainGate’s decoder mapped the way neurons behave during this thought of people, enabling them to speak and transform thought into action through prosthetic limbs and assistive robotic devices.
Beata Jarosiewicz, a BrainGate researcher, said that different neurons have different preferred aspects. “Some neurons increase the rate of firing when a person wants to move their hand up,” said Beata Jarosiewicz. Some of the other neurons increase the rate of firing when they want to move left or right. By looking at the way of activation along all the neurons, we can say in which direction the person wants to move his hand. ”
The recording process of the brain during sleep was detected by a game
Scientists who wanted to understand how the brain records memories during sleep worked with two people with BrainGate implants. The researchers asked the two people who participated in the study to sleep to record neuron activity.
After the participants recorded their neuron activities during their sleep, the two participants were asked to repeat the light movements in a 1980s game played with colored lights. Of course, the participants repeated their light movements with their mental activities instead of doing it with their arms. After this procedure, the participants were asked to sleep again.
Examining the recorded neuron activities of people who were sleeping again, scientists found that neuron activities are the same as neuron activities during play. According to the determination, the brain repeated the process at the neuronal level during sleep.
Scientists think that this repetition that the brain performs mechanically is related to the hippocampus and neocortical parts of the brain. The fact that the hippocampus in the brain is memory-related and the process is repeated here, made scientists think that this process is the memory of long-term memories.
This study conducted by scientists may be an important starting point for future brain and memory studies. Researchers are considering researching which memory segments are repeated more frequently at certain sleep stages in the future.