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: Steadily rising increases in mitochondrial DNA mutations cause abrupt shifts in disease

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

'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

Cause of ageing remains elusive

21 hours ago

A report by Chinese researchers in the journal Nature a few months ago was a small sensation: they appeared to have found the cause for why organisms age. An international team of scientists, headed by the ...

Newly discovered bacterial defence mechanism in the lungs

22 hours ago

A new study from Karolinska Institutet presents a previously unknown immunological mechanism that protects us against bacterial infections in the lungs. The study is being published in the American Journal of Respiratory an ...

User comments : 0