Researchers have discovered new information about how the area of the brain that drives memory when the eyes rest on a face versus another object or image in a research conducted by Cedars-Sinai. Their findings, published in the peer-reviewed journalScience Advances, help to better understand how memory works, and provides evidence for a future treatment strategy for memory disorders.
People shift their eyes from one particular location to another three to four times per second when they see the eyes on the face. In this study, researchers found that certain cells in the amygdala, a component of the brain, are found to be responsible for social information, responding and activating memory.
You might argue that faces are one of the most important objects we examine, according toUeli Rutishauser, PhD, director of the Center for Neural Science and Medicineat Cedars-Sinai, and senior author of the study. Often, we make significant decisions based on the experience of people, whether or not we trust someone, or whether or not we have never seen this person.
Researchers analyzed the location of subjects eye using a camera to see where they found the electrodes in their brains.
The researchers recorded the participants'' theta wave activity. It''s a common type of electrical brain wave that is formed in the hippocampus and is crucial in processing information and creating memories.
Investigators first showed study participants groups of images that included human and primate faces, as well as other items, such as flowers, cars, and geometric shapes. They then showed participants a series of images of human faces, some of which they had seen during the first activity, and asked if they remembered them.
The investigators discovered that each time participants eyes were on a human face, but none of the other types of imagecertain cells in the amygdala were fired. Every time these face cells fired, the pattern of theta waves in the hippocampus was reset or restarted.
The Amygdala is preparing the hippocampus for new socially relevant information, according to Rutishauser, the Board of Governors chair in neurosciences and a professor of neurosurgery and biomedical sciences.
According to Juri Minxha, a postdoctoral researcher in neurosurgery at Cedars-Sinai and co-first author of the study, primates have shown that theta waves restart or reset every time they make an eye movement. In this study, we demonstrate that this happens in humans, especially when we look at other individuals.
Researchers found that, as a whole, individuals face cells fired when their eyes were fixed on a face, the more likely the subject was to remember that face. When a subjects face cells fired more slowly, the face they had fixed on was likely to be forgotten.
When subjects were presented faces they had previously, they were also shown faces that were previously stored in memory, which suggests that the hippocampus was not infected.
According to Rutishauser, these results suggest that people who struggle to remember faces may have a dystopian amygdala, noting that this type of dyslexia has been implicated in social cognition disorders, such as autism.
According to Rutishauser, the results indicate that both eye movements and theta waves are important in the memory process.
This technique, triggered by the amygdala in response to concerns, might not be implemented, according to Rutishauser. So, restoring theta waves might be an effective treatment strategy.