How we remember each other

Apr 03, 2007

Researchers at McGill University’s Douglas Mental Health University Institute, in collaboration with a French team at the University of Paris, have used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to identify the part of the brain that stores our memories of meetings, parties, arguments, fun and the myriad other social interactions that colour our daily lives.

"For a few years we’ve known that the medial prefrontal cortex is involved in the processing of social information,” said Prof. Lepage. “What we didn’t know is that this same brain region is also involved in the actual memory storage for social information."

The McGill team, PhD student Philippe Olivier Harvey and Martin Lepage, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Psychiatry, McGill University and Director of the Brain Imaging Group of the Douglas Mental Health University Institute and their French colleagues, identified a precise region in the frontal cortex that seems to specialize in the processing and memory storage of social information.

Using a functional MRI technique, the scientists measured brain activity in 17 volunteers while they performed memory tasks involving pictures of social scenes (interacting individuals) and non-social scenes (landscapes with no people). They identified the internal part of the prefrontal cortex, called the medial prefrontal cortex, as the key structure in remembering social information from an image.

How efficiently our brains process, store and retrieve social events and relationships is essential to our social adaptation. Various regions of the brain, notably the hippocampus, are directly involved in learning and memory.

Previous findings by the same research teams linked this prefrontal region with how we think about ourselves and others. This new work could lead to a greater understanding of certain mental disorders, such as schizophrenia and autism, that affect social and relational skills. These findings are published in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, February 2007.

Source: McGill University

Explore further: Nervous system may play bigger role in infections than previously known

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

5G is NOT 4G+1

Nov 05, 2014

Recently, Spaniards had to re-tune all television sets as a result of the introduction of 4G mobile networks. Their data transmission speed (10 times higher than the 3rd generation's) required a release of ...

Genes play a key part in the recipe for a happy country

Oct 30, 2014

Why are the Danes naturally more cheerful than the Brits, and why are we in turn more upbeat than the French? Research presented as part of this year's ESRC Festival of Social Sciences shows us that the recipe behind a happy ...

'Red effect' sparks interest in female monkeys

Oct 17, 2014

Recent studies showed that the color red tends increase our attraction toward others, feelings of jealousy, and even reaction times. Now, new research shows that female monkeys also respond to the color red, ...

Are male brains wired to ignore food for sex?

Oct 16, 2014

Choosing between two good things can be tough. When animals must decide between feeding and mating, it can get even trickier. In a discovery that might ring true even for some humans, researchers have shown that male brains ...

Recommended for you

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.