Family memories captured with YesVideo

Family memories captured with YesVideo Emily Dickey posted this in FamilyLife is all about memories, right? We take photos and videos, we write journals and make scrapbooks, and we sit and reminisce and tell stories. I’ve talked a lot about YesVideo here on my blog because I love their memory-making services. They take photographs and video (tapes, files, etc.) and convert them to digital files and DVD, allowing you to watch and share anywhere!My family has used their services many times with old VHS tapes. We don’t even own a VHS player anymore and some tapes were unplayable anyway. Tons of old home movies and loved memories that we thought were lost and gone… until we sent them off to YesVideo. I know it…

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Scientists pinpoint proteins vital to long-term memory

Sep. 12, 2013 — Scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have found a group of proteins essential to the formation of long-term memories.The study, published online ahead of print on September 12, 2013 by the journal Cell Reports, focuses on a family of proteins called Wnts. These proteins send signals from the outside to the inside of a cell, inducing a cellular response crucial for many aspects of embryonic development, including stem cell differentiation, as well as for normal functioning of the adult brain.”By removing the function of three proteins in the Wnt signaling pathway, we produced a deficit in long-term but not short-term memory,” said Ron Davis, chair of the TSRI Department of Neuroscience. “The pathway is clearly part of the conversion of short-term memory to the long-term stable form, which occurs through changes in gene expression.”The findings stem from experiments probing the role of Wnt signaling components in olfactory memory formation in Drosophila, the common fruit fly — a widely used doppelgänger for human memory studies. In the new study, the scientists inactivated the expression of several Wnt signaling proteins in the mushroom bodies of adult flies — part of the fly brain that plays a role in learning and memory.The resulting memory disruption, Davis said, suggests that Wnt signaling participates actively in the formation of long-term memory, rather than having some general, non-specific effect on behavior.”What is interesting is that the molecular mechanisms of adult memory use the same processes that guide the early development of the organism, except that they are repurposed for memory formation,” he said. “One difference, however, is that during early development the signals are intrinsic, while in adults they require an outside stimulus to create a memory.”The first author of the study, “Wnt signaling is required for long-term memory formation,” is Ying Tan of the Baylor College of Medicine. Other authors include Germain U. Busto of TSRI and Curtis Wilson of Baylor College of Medicine.The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health (NS19904).

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Long-term memory stored in the cortex

Aug. 27, 2013 — ‘Where’ and ‘how’ memories are encoded in a nervous system is one of the most challenging questions in biological research. The formation and recall of associative memories is essential for an independent life. The hippocampus has long been considered a centre in the brain for the long-term storage of spatial associations. Now, Mazahir T. Hasan at the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research and José Maria Delgado-Garcìa at the University Pablo de Olavide of Seville, Spain, were able to provide first experimental evidence that a specific form of memory associations is encoded in the cerebral cortex and is not localized in the hippocampus as described in most Neuroscience textbooks. The new study is a game changer since it strongly suggests that the motor cortical circuits itself, and not the hippocampus, is used as memory storage.Henry Molaison, known widely as H.M., is a famous name in memory research. Large parts of the American‘s hippocampus – the region of the brain that is a major element in learning and memory processes – were removed in the 1950s in an attempt to cure his epileptic seizures. He subsequently suffered severe memory lapses and was no longer able to remember virtually anything new he had learned. Most scientists thereby concluded that the hippocampus is the site of long-term memory.However, the extent of H.M.’s brain damage was obviously underestimated, because other regions in addition to the hippocampus were also removed or damaged in the surgical procedure. …

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Neurologists report unique form of musical hallucinations

Aug. 20, 2013 — One night when she was trying to fall asleep, a 60-year-old woman suddenly began hearing music, as if a radio were playing at the back of her head.The songs were popular tunes her husband recognized when she sang or hummed them. But she herself could not identify them.This is the first known case of a patient hallucinating music that was familiar to people around her, but that she herself did not recognize, according to Dr. Danilo Vitorovic and Dr. José Biller of Loyola University Medical Center. The neurologists describe the unique case in the journal Frontiers in Neurology.The case raises “intriguing questions regarding memory, forgetting and access to lost memories,” the authors write.Musical hallucinations are a form of auditory hallucinations, in which patients hear songs, instrumental music or tunes, even though no such music is actually playing. Most patients realize they are hallucinating, and find the music intrusive and occasionally unpleasant. There is no cure.Musical hallucinations usually occur in older people. Several conditions are possible causes or predisposing factors, including hearing impairment, brain damage, epilepsy, intoxications and psychiatric disorders such as depression, schizophrenia and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Hearing impairment is the most common predisposing condition, but is not by itself sufficient to cause hallucinations.Vitorovic and Biller describe a hearing-impaired patient who initially hallucinated music when she was trying to fall asleep. …

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Neuroscientists plant false memories in mice: Location where brain stores memory traces, both false and authentic, pinpointed

July 25, 2013 — The phenomenon of false memory has been well-documented: In many court cases, defendants have been found guilty based on testimony from witnesses and victims who were sure of their recollections, but DNA evidence later overturned the conviction.In a step toward understanding how these faulty memories arise, MIT neuroscientists have shown that they can plant false memories in the brains of mice. They also found that many of the neurological traces of these memories are identical in nature to those of authentic memories.”Whether it’s a false or genuine memory, the brain’s neural mechanism underlying the recall of the memory is the same,” says Susumu Tonegawa, the Picower Professor of Biology and Neuroscience and senior author of a paper describing the findings in the July 25 edition of Science.The study also provides further evidence that memories are stored in networks of neurons that form memory traces for each experience we have — a phenomenon that Tonegawa’s lab first demonstrated last year.Neuroscientists have long sought the location of these memory traces, also called engrams. In the pair of studies, Tonegawa and colleagues at MIT’s Picower Institute for Learning and Memory showed that they could identify the cells that make up part of an engram for a specific memory and reactivate it using a technology called optogenetics.Lead authors of the paper are graduate student Steve Ramirez and research scientist Xu Liu. Other authors are technical assistant Pei-Ann Lin, research scientist Junghyup Suh, and postdocs Michele Pignatelli, Roger Redondo and Tomas Ryan.Seeking the engramEpisodic memories — memories of experiences — are made of associations of several elements, including objects, space and time. These associations are encoded by chemical and physical changes in neurons, as well as by modifications to the connections between the neurons.Where these engrams reside in the brain has been a longstanding question in neuroscience. “Is the information spread out in various parts of the brain, or is there a particular area of the brain in which this type of memory is stored? This has been a very fundamental question,” Tonegawa says.In the 1940s, Canadian neurosurgeon Wilder Penfield suggested that episodic memories are located in the brain’s temporal lobe. When Penfield electrically stimulated cells in the temporal lobes of patients who were about to undergo surgery to treat epileptic seizures, the patients reported that specific memories popped into mind. Later studies of the amnesiac patient known as “H.M.” confirmed that the temporal lobe, including the area known as the hippocampus, is critical for forming episodic memories.However, these studies did not prove that engrams are actually stored in the hippocampus, Tonegawa says. To make that case, scientists needed to show that activating specific groups of hippocampal cells is sufficient to produce and recall memories.To achieve that, Tonegawa’s lab turned to optogenetics, a new technology that allows cells to be selectively turned on or off using light.For this pair of studies, the researchers engineered mouse hippocampal cells to express the gene for channelrhodopsin, a protein that activates neurons when stimulated by light. …

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Chimpanzees and orangutans remember distant past events

July 18, 2013 — We humans can remember events in our lives that happened years ago, with those memories often surfacing unexpectedly in response to sensory triggers: perhaps a unique flavor or scent. Now, researchers reporting in Current Biology, a Cell Press publication, on July 18 have evidence to suggest that chimpanzees and orangutans have similar capacities. In laboratory tests, both primate species were clearly able to recollect a tool-finding event that they had experienced just four times three years earlier and a singular event from two weeks before, the researchers show.Share This:It seems we have more in common with our primate cousins than we thought, specifically when it comes to our autobiographical memories, the researchers say.”Our data and other emerging evidence keep challenging the idea of non-human animals being stuck in time,” says Gema Martin-Ordas of Aarhus University in Denmark. “We show not only that chimpanzees and orangutans remember events that happened two weeks or three years ago, but also that they can remember them even when they are not expecting to have to recall those events at a later time.”The chimpanzees and orangutans in the study could also distinguish between similar past events in which the same tasks, locations, and people were involved, she adds. “This is a crucial finding since it implies that our subjects were able to bind the different elements of very similar events — including task, tool, experimenter. This idea of ‘binding’ has been considered to be a crucial component of autobiographical memories.”When presented with a particular setup, chimpanzees and orangutans instantaneously remembered where to search for tools and the location of a tool they had seen only once. The researchers note in particular the complexity and speed of the primates’ recall ability.”I was surprised to find out not only that they remembered the event that took place three years ago, but also that they did it so fast!” Martin-Ordas says. “On average it took them five seconds to go and find the tools. Again this is very telling because it shows that they were not just walking around the rooms and suddenly saw the boxes and searched for the tools inside them. More probably, it was the recalled event that enabled them to find the tools directly.”She says the new findings are just the beginning of a completely new line of research on memories for past events in non-human animals.Share this story on Facebook, Twitter, and Google:Other social bookmarking and sharing tools:|Story Source: The above story is reprinted from materials provided by Cell Press, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS. …

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Sleep mechanism identified that plays role in emotional memory

June 12, 2013 — Sleep researchers from University of California campuses in Riverside and San Diego have identified the sleep mechanism that enables the brain to consolidate emotional memory and found that a popular prescription sleep aid heightens the recollection of and response to negative memories.Their findings have implications for individuals suffering from insomnia related to posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other anxiety disorders who are prescribed zolpidem (Ambien) to help them sleep.The study — “Pharmacologically Increasing Sleep Spindles Enhances Recognition for Negative and High-arousal Memories” — appears in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience.Mednick and UC San Diego psychologists Erik J. Kaestner and John T. Wixted determined that a sleep feature known as sleep spindles — bursts of brain activity that last for a second or less during a specific stage of sleep — are important for emotional memory.Research Mednick published earlier this year demonstrated the critical role that sleep spindles play in consolidating information from short-term to long-term memory in the hippocampus, located in the cerebral cortex of the brain. Zolpidem enhanced the process, a discovery that could lead to new sleep therapies to improve memory for aging adults and those with dementia, Alzheimer’s and schizophrenia. It was the first study to show that sleep can be manipulated with pharmacology to improve memory.”We know that sleep spindles are involved in declarative memory — explicit information we recall about the world, such as places, people and events, ” she explained.But until now, researchers had not considered sleep spindles as playing a role in emotional memory , focusing instead on rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.Using two commonly prescribed sleep aids — zolpidem and sodium oxybate (Xyrem) — Mednick, Kaestner and Wixted were able to tease apart the effects of sleep spindles and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep on the recall of emotional memories. They determined that sleep spindles, not REM, affect emotional memory.The researchers gave zolpidem, sodium oxybate (Xyrem) and a placebo to 28 men and women between the ages of 18 and 39 who were normal sleepers, allowing several days between doses to allow the pharmaceuticals to leave their bodies. The participants viewed standardized images known to elicit positive and negative responses for one second before and after taking supervised naps. They recalled more images that had negative or highly arousing content after taking zolpidem, a finding that also suggests that the brain may favor consolidation of negative memories, she said.”I was surprised by the specificity of the results, that the emotional memory improvement was specifically for the negative and high-arousal memories, and the ramifications of these results for people with anxiety disorders and PTSD,” Mednick said. “These are people who already have heightened memory for negative and high-arousal memories. Sleep drugs might be improving their memories for things they don’t want to remember.”The study may have even broader implications, the researchers said. …

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Never forget a face? Researchers find women have better memory recall than men

June 4, 2013 — New research from McMaster University suggests women can remember faces better than men, in part because they spend more time studying features without even knowing it, and a technique researchers say can help improve anyone’s memories.The findings help to answer long-standing questions about why some people can remember faces easily while others quickly forget someone they’ve just met.”The way we move our eyes across a new individual’s face affects our ability to recognize that individual later,” explains Jennifer Heisz, a research fellow at the Rotman Institute at Baycrest and newly appointed assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology at McMaster University.She co-authored the paper with David Shore, psychology professor at McMaster and psychology graduate student Molly Pottruff.”Our findings provide new insights into the potential mechanisms of episodic memory and the differences between the sexes. We discovered that women look more at new faces than men do, which allows them to create a richer and more superior memory,” Heisz says.Eye tracking technology was used to monitor where study participants looked — be it eyes, nose or mouth — while they were shown a series of randomly selected faces on a computer screen. Each face was assigned a name that participants were asked to remember.One group was tested over the course of one day, another group tested over the course of four days.”We found that women fixated on the features far more than men, but this strategy operates completely outside of our awareness. Individuals don’t usually notice where their eyes fixate, so it’s all subconscious.”The implications are exciting, she says, because it means anyone can be taught to scan more and potentially have better memory.”The results open the possibility that changing our eye movement pattern may lead to better memory,” says Shore. “Increased scanning may prove to be a simple strategy to improve face memory in the general population, especially for individuals with memory impairment like older adults.”The complete study, published in the journal Psychological Science, can be found at this link.

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